Books 2014

A list of the books I’m reading through 2014, as inspired by the #ReadWomen2014 campaign.

December

All the Birds, Singing – Evie Wyld

The Bear – Claire Cameron

Popco – Scarlett Thomas

Bailey’s Café – Gloria Naylor

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

November

Sisterland – Curtis Sittenfeld

The River – Tricia Wastvedt

Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman

The Edible Woman – Margaret Atwood

How I live Now – Meg Rosoff

October

Big Brother – Lionel Shriver

What Was Lost – Catherine O’Flynn

The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

September

The Observations – Jane Harris

Boudica: Dreaming the Hound (Boudica #3)- Manda Scott

I’m really enjoying Manda Scott’s fictionalised account of the life of Boudica. This is the third in a quartet. It brings the period to life with huge imagination and has got me thinking about this period in British history and the way of life that was destroyed by the Roman invasion.

A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki

This is a stunning book, love it.

August

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith (J K Rowling)

I raced through this and look forward to reading the next Cormoran Strike novel, The Silkworm, when it’s out in paperback.  I was interested to note that this got better reviews before people realised the author was Rowling, indicative of prejudice towards her, perhaps literary snobbery or maybe because she’s a woman, I don’t know, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

boudiBoudica: Dreaming the Bull (Boudica #2) – Manda Scott

Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty

Sister Josephine – Joanna Traynor

“That life is a passage not a vessel. It cannot be filled. It can only be travelled.” – Taiwo, Sister Josephine.

Boudica : Dreaming the Eagle (Boudica #1) – Manda Scott

July

On Beauty – Zadie Smith

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple

June

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

Parable of the Sower – Octavia E Butler

Excellent dystopian adventure which left me wanting to read the second in the series, Parable of the Talents, and feeling sad that Butler never managed to complete the third in the trilogy.

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum – Mary Hooper

May

Untold Story – Monica Ali

Something Vital Fell Through – Char March

A collection of short stories from Leeds poet Char March who I had never heard of until I discovered this on a charity shop shelf, glad I did, some absolute gems in here.

kishwarWitness the Night – Kishwar Desai

A powerful novel, part detective story, part analysis of the place of girls and women within India. Won the Costa first novel award in 2010.

April

The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell

Trick of the Light – Jill Dawson

An exploration of destructive relationships set on a remote US mountain where the main character, Rita, has moved to from the UK, along with her volatile partner and their young daughter. The sense of place is superb and it’s a tense involving tale.

The Outcast – Sadie Jones

Quiet – Susan Cain

March

The Stories of Eva Luna 

The Uninvited – Liz Jensen

Inventor of the psychological eco-thriller, Jensen mixes up the genres again in this page turner which combines elements of the supernatural, environmentalism, sci-fi, crime and horror to create an unusual and enjoyable story.

Gillespie and I – Jane Harris

Really enjoyed this well plotted, dark, inventive tale. Has made me want to search out her first novel – The Observations.

 

February

 

Bedsit Disco Queen – Tracey Thorn

Thorn has a dry style and her book is an interesting and amusing take on the UK music scene from the late 70’s onwards and her part in it.

kindredKindred – Octavia E. Butler

Edana is a black woman married to a white man and living in 70’s USA. They are both flipped back through time to help Edana’s distant ancestor Rufus – a white slave trader. Butler said that with this  novel she was, “trying to get people to feel slavery.” I enjoyed it, although not as much as some of her other work. Having read one of The Patternist series, (Mind of My Mind), I’d really like to read more.

 

Life after Life – Kate Atkinson

So good I was almost tempted to go back and start it again.

Tatty  –  Christine Dwyer Hickey

Life in a ‘dysfunctional’ Irish family, set in the 60’s and 70’s, described through the eyes of child. Eloquent, moving, wry.

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont – Elizabeth Taylorpalf

This had been on my shelf for about 2 years, something about it didn’t appeal to me but when I finally picked it up I became absorbed. I really enjoyed this story of an old, rich, white woman and her year of life as a hotel resident. It’s beautifully written, acutely observant, often made me laugh out loud and also drew me close to tears.

January

Trick of the Dark – Val McDermid

Rubbernecker – Belinda Bauer

This was the first book I’ve read by Bauer. The protagonist is a 17 year old boy with Asperger’s who helps to solve a murder. While Patrick was a believable character, I was a little concerned that the novel played into some of the stereotypes around Asperger’s syndrome. I was also a little dismayed by the idea that unpleasant, ‘chavvy’ nurse Tracy deserved a nasty end. Overall though I enjoyed this, it was very readable, with some fun twists and it made me laugh.

The Last Runaway – Tracy Chevalier chevalier

Chevalier, (best known for Girl with a Pearl Earring), is an author who I find inconsistent, but I’m always interested in what she’s going to come up with next. Her novels are without fail thoroughly researched and I always learn something from them. With this one I was gripped by the first half but I did feel the plot lost its way a little towards the end.

The story concerns a young Quaker woman named Honor Bright, who emigrates from England to North America in the 1850’s and becomes involved in The Underground Railroad – a network of people who helped slaves escape captivity. I did wonder if Honor‘s opinions on the subject of slavery were perhaps modern-day values transposed onto the past and was interested in the author’s notes at the end which provided more information about The Underground Railroad.

The Casual Vacancy  – J.K. Rowling

I enjoyed Rowling’s first novel for the adult market. I’d heard a few criticisms of it and wasn’t sure what to expect but I found it to be a proper good yarn. There were some great characters and it kept me involved all the way through its 576 Pages.

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