This fun little exercise is not something I have participated in before but, having enjoyed reading Cleo and Marina‘s choices, I decided that I would take part too. If you click on the covers you may read my reviews.
A Book With More Than 500 Pages
The Last Hours by Minette Walters.
A captivating and chilling account of life as it would have been for the lords and serfs in England, 1348. They lived in fear of a wrathful god and are now facing a virulent plague that kills victims within days. I have read many fictional accounts of plague ridden England but the breadth and depth of this one truly impressed.
A Forgotten Classic
The Beauties by Anton Chekhov (translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater).
A collection of thirteen, freshly translated short stories and my first foray into this esteemed writer’s work. Snapshots of flawed humanity viewed through a studied, concise lens.
A Book That Became a Movie
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling.
Despite knowing the story well I enjoyed, once again, immersing myself in the world of the boy wizard and his nemesis.
A Book Published This Year
Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary.
I don’t read as many crime novels these days as their plots had started to merge into each other, but Sarah’s books remain outstanding. This is the fourth in her Marnie Rome series. A battle for survival is being fought by those living in the run down estates of ignored and dirty London. There is a brooding violence lurking within the twists and turns of the plot, each new scene oozing menace. Masterfully crafted.
A Book With A Number In The Title
2084 by various authors.
Anthology of fifteen short stories set in a variety of dystopian societies. Each builds on contemporary topics, playing out possibilities in disquieting directions. Ways of living may have moved on but attitudes have not changed. The writing throughout is excellent, each tale darkly compelling.
A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty
Stanly’s Ghost by Stefan Mohamed.
The third book in the author’s Bitter Sixteen Trilogy. An adrenaline pumping adventure that never takes itself too seriously. A must read for anyone who has ever dreamed of having superpowers.
A Book With Non Human Characters
A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris.
A dark fairy tale weaving magic and the power of the natural world into a story of love and then revenge. A reminder that however much man tries to insulate himself with his beliefs and inventions, he remains reliant on and at the mercy of the forces of nature. We may damage our world but it will not be tamed.
A Funny Book
Man With A Seagull On His Head by Harriet Paige.
Interpreting funny as curious, quirky.
Council worker Ray Eccles walks to his local beach where he suffers a blow to the head from a falling seagull. This previously ordinary middle aged man, who had never before thought to create art, returns home to spend every waking moment trying to paint the woman he glimpsed as he was felled. Ten years later Ray Eccles is acclaimed by the art world, the depiction of which is fabulous. The book is piercing in its insights, poignant yet somehow uplifting. Existentialism wrapped into an entertaining tale.
A Book By A Female Author
So the Doves by Heidi James.
Intelligent murder mystery. An evocative study of memory and the stories we create to shape how we regard ourselves. Artfully told this tale demands that the reader question their core perceptions of themselves. It is a disturbing, compelling, ultimately satisfying read.
A Book With A Mystery
Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson (translated by Quentin Bates).
The fifth book in the author’s Dark Iceland series of crime novels to be published in English. In many ways this felt like a country house murder mystery with chilling, nordic noir undercurrents. Excellent reading.
A Book With A One Word Title
Glass by Alex Christofi.
One young man’s attempts to cope in our modern world. Entertaining and engaging with an understated depth and intelligent humour.
A Book of Short Stories
Postcard Stories by Jan Carson (with illustrations by Benjamin Phillips).
Fifty-two short stories, one for each week of a year. They were originally written on the back of postcards and then mailed individually to the author’s friends. Mostly set in or around contemporary Belfast they capture the attitudes and vernacular of their subjects with wit and precision. As with Carson’s previous work, there is at times an injection of magical realism which beautifully offsets the dry humour of her candid observations.
We That Are Young by Preti Taneja.
A fabulous reworking of King Lear set in modern day India. A literary feast and my book of the year.
A Book Set On A Different Continent
Sorry To Disrupt The Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell.
A story of a suicide and its effect on the family, particularly the surviving sibling. Deeply disturbing yet brilliantly rendered.
The First Book By A Favourite Author
The Clocks In This House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks.
The author’s only book to date but I met him at a festival and he is lovely so, a favourite.
This is a mesmeric tale of loss and survival. Set a few years after the end of the First World War, its cast of characters include those who have returned from the conflict and the families of those who did not. There are the bruised and haunted, scoundrels and chancers, and the wealthy privileged whose carefully managed roles ensured they were barely touched. All wish to look to the future yet remain affected by the still recent past. A book with heart and soul that is original, penetrative and engaging.
A Book I Heard About Online
The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers.
A fictionalised story based on surviving accounts of true events from eighteenth century northern England. Multi-layered presenting the north and its people with vivid, brutal realism. Although historical, it is a tale for our own changing times. A prodigious, beguiling, utterly compelling literary achievement.
A Best Selling Book
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet.
A story of three brutal murders in a remote community of the Scottish Highlands in 1869. Booker shortlisted. Original and engaging.
A Book Based Upon A True Story
Tinderbox by Megan Dunn.
A book about the author’s failure to write a book, and how this led to her writing this one. It provides a window into the creative process and much else besides. It is unapologetic and makes no attempt to garner pity. The writing throughout is droll and pithy, the existence of this book an against the odds achievement. It should be recommended reading for aspiring authors everywhere.
A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile
How to Be a Kosovan Bride, by Naomi Hamill.
Not from the bottom of my TBR pile as I question if I will ever get there but one that sat waiting to be read for longer than it deserved.
Two young women living in newly liberated but still deeply traditional, contemporary Kosovo. Both enter into marriages sanctioned by their respective families while other girls their age continue with school. One is warmly welcomed by her in-laws but discovers that life as a wife is not as satisfying as she had hoped. The other is rejected by her husband and returns to her studies, trying for university. The rhythm and form of the narrative quietly capture the difficulties to be faced when female aspiration stretches beyond the widely accepted limitations of weddings, babies and home. History and supposed progress in a country I knew little about.
A Book Your Friend Loves
Tin Man by Sarah Winman.
Not just my friend, anyone who has posted comments about this on line.
A hauntingly, achingly beautiful story of friendship and love. A glorious, heartfelt read.
A Book That Scares You
Nasty Women by various authors.
A collection of essays written by contemporary women about their everyday experiences of living in the twenty-first century western world. Predates the #MeToo campaign. Enlightening and discomfiting, an important read.
A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.
The first instalment in a quartet of novels focusing on a futuristic, steampunk version of our world. An imaginative page-turner.
The Second Book In A Series
Freefall by Adam Hamdy.
The second book in the author’s Pendulum Trilogy. A high-octane, adrenaline fuelled thriller that powers along at unremitting pace yet never runs out of the energy and ingenuity to maintain reader engagement.
A Book With A Blue Cover
Blue Dog by Louis de Bernieres.
A story of a boy and his dog, somewhat Boy’s Own in aspect but still good reading for any age. As one would expect from an author of this stature, the writing is fluent and engaging. Loosely based on the true story of a Kelpie cattle dog that travelled around Western Australia’s Pilbara region in the 1970s.