Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Favorite Reads of 2015

Here is my Best of 2015 list. Better late than never!

Children’s Books

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (2015)
As some of you know, I love evacuation stories! This is the best one I have read since Back Home by Michelle Magorian in 1984. Here, when Ada and her brother are evacuated to the country during WWII, a whole new world is revealed to Ada, who has never left her family’s apartment due to a twisted foot – and a twisted mother.

Historical Fiction
The King’s Falcon by Stella Riley (2014)
Third in her Civil War series (which has attracted diehard fans), this book follows Ashley Peverell and Francis Langley, minor characters in previous books, who have accompanied Charles II into exile in Paris. Ashley becomes involved with a beautiful actress, Athenais de Galzain, who has a powerful enemy, as if Ashley didn’t already have more trouble than he can handle . . .

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)
First in a three-book series about Thomas Cromwell, a surprisingly sympathetic look at the ambitious statesman who engineered Henry VIII’s divorce. It is very absorbing although I usually dislike books written in the present tense. Apparently, this is a trend:
This contemporary upsurge can perhaps be traced back to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which won the Booker prize in 2009. But when she began working on a novel that put the camera behind Cromwell’s eyes, there was no theory attached, Mantel has explains: “I was writing as I saw it.
“It was only a little later I became aware of what had happened and saw that I’d made two important decisions very quickly – tense and point of view. And they are inextricable.”

Red Sparrow (2013) and Palace of Treason (2015) by Jason Matthews
The first two books about Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer, and his opposite number, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova, are fast-paced and brutal and impossible to put down.
Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton (2011)
My sisters and I love this mystery series about Lacey Flint, a young detective constable in London. This review from the News & Advance in Lynchburg does a great job capturing her appeal. I know Sharon Bolton is tired of people begging her to write more books about Lacey so I try to coax only once a year. I like her standalones too but more Lacey would be great.

The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by Harry Bingham (2014)
We also like this dark series about a very unusual Welsh detective who goes undercover in her determination to solve a crime. This is the third book in the series and is not for the faint of heart.

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood (2013)
All the residents in this London apartment building have something to hide – and one of them is a killer. I listened to this on audio as I painted my guest room, and was fascinated by the quirky characters.

Echo Park (Bosch #12) by Michael Connelly (2006)
When a serial killer confesses to the murder of one of Harry’s cold cases, Harry must reopen the investigation under media glare.  For years I wondered why my sister and father were such fans of Harry Bosch and then I became hooked myself.

The Blue Sky of Spring by Elizabeth Cadell (1956)
I had read the other books in the series many years ago but somehow missed this book about the irrepressible Wayne family, which comes second and is now back in print. This series is laugh-out-loud funny!


Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson (2010)
This was the best nonfiction I had read in years and I spent much of the year recommending it to friends, including rushing a copy of the audiobook to my brother who was then in Rome. Olson describes how three key Americans in London maintained our allegiance with Britain before America came into WWII: Edward R. Murrow, the handsome journalist from CBS News in Europe; Averell Harriman, the millionaire who ran FDR’s Lend-Lease program in London; and John Gilbert Winant from New Hampshire, the idealistic U.S. ambassador to Britain (cousin of my friend Tim).

The Hired Girl by Laura Schlitz (2015)
Seeking a better life and adventure, sheltered fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs escapes from her family’s farm to become a hired girl to an affluent Baltimore family. Schlitz won the Newbery for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village, her Canterbury Tales-like book but I prefer The Hired Girl and A Drowned Maiden’s Hair.
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (2014)
First in a fantasy trilogy, set in the future, in which a young orphan learns her identity and the need to claim her dead mother’s throne—and defeat the Red Queen, a cruel sorceress determined to destroy anyone who stands in her way.

Best Rereads

The Lark Shall Sing (1955) and Six Impossible Things (1961) by Elizabeth Cadell
Book 1 and Book 3 about the Wayne family; now back in print. See above.

The Black Madonna: Roundheads and Cavaliers #1 by Stella Riley (1992)
Stubborn, red-headed Kate Maxwell resents the changes caused by the English Civil War and the annoying attraction she feels for Italian goldsmith, Luciano del Santi, who cares only about avenging his father’s death.

Best Twist Ending Although It Annoyed Me

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (2014)
Fourteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf is obsessed with the disappearance of her mother, a scientist who studied elephant grief, and is determined to find her.

Here is my Goodreads 2015 Year in Books

Favorite Reads of 2019
Favorite Reads of 2018
Favorite Reads of 2017
Favorite Reads of 2016
Favorite Reads of 2013
Favorite Reads of 2011
Favorite Reads of 2010
Favorite Reads of 2009
Favorite Reads of 2008

By the way, don't forget to watch Sanditon!  I am enjoying it.