Here you'll find my snippets and thoughts on all things bookish. If you want to read a proper review / what other people thought, you can click on the link in each title.
Underway - The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
20.The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato
This is an easy, pleasant-enough read. A story that intertwines 17th century with modern day Venice, it's perfect for packing in your beach/pool bag for a not-too-taxing diversion from doing...well nothing very much. 3 out of 5 stars.
19. Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure by Joanne Harris
The third in the Chocolat-The Lollipop Shoes trilogy, this finds Vianne, Anouk and Rosette travelling back to the village of Lansquenet to 'ride the wind' again. Secrets and adversaries, both old and new, abound as Vianne gains a new perspective of the 'outsiders' as an 'insider'...almost. I read this voraciously, perhaps even greedily with the peach juice dripping down my chin, at every opportunity!
18. Paris: The Secret History by Andrew Hussey
A loan from a French friend whose Russian fiance refers to this as definitive Paris reading, The Secret History is a fascinating trawl through the history of this diverse and extraordinary city. Even better was that I was reading it while visiting and actually turned the final page on the Eurostar coming back to London. It was a wonderful parallel journey which breathed new perspective into this city's proud and whimsical people and the revolutionary spirit which flows through their veins.
17. Winter in Madrid by C. J. Sansom
I love Sansom's series featuring 16th century lawyer Matthew Shardlake so I was looking forward to trying out his new political thriller, albeit in a completely different time and place. It's a bit of a slow starter but persevere. The dramatic tension builds and you'll find yourself turning page after page eager to find out what will happen. A nice twist in the final paragraphs too.
16. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I didn't really know what to expect but this book really is a pilgrimage. A wonderfully written, beautifully moving story of the things that happen when you step just a little outside everyday routine. One step leads to another and another and another and all there is to do is to pay a little attention to the life all around.
15. Lost At Sea by Jon Ronson
This is a series of tales about the weird and the wonderful that Ronson has come across during his career in journalism. There are UFOs, robots, kidneys, hot dogs and superheroes...and even a story about Robbie Williams. OK so maybe it is just plain weird but it's really entertaining reading.
14. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
What a brilliant read. This tale criss-crosses the generations chapter by chapter in true Morton style until the final secret is revealed.
13. Killing The Shadows by Val McDermid
It's been years since I last read a McDermid. I loved them then. I love them now. This one - to coin an Aussie phrase - is a bl**dy ripper!
12. The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris
Four years after Chocolat, Harris follows Vianne and Anouk to Paris, to a little corner of Montmarte, where the shadows have gathered and chocolate weaves its marvellous magic again.
11. Cover The Mirrors by Faye L. Booth
Not really convinced by this one. It's not the worst I've read but it's not great either.
10. Sword Song (The Saxon Chronicles 4) by Bernard Cornwell
Another ripping tale of medieval warmongering as Uhtred fights for love and London. On with number 5 I say!
9. The Innocent by David Baldacci
Another brilliant Baldacci. They are all good but I liked this one even more than usual.
8. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
So the trilogy's done. And it was enjoyable. But I found the final leg in James' trifecta at best predictable. At worst, ridiculous.
7. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
Quite a nice read and not too taxing with the fairytale ending kept intact.
6. Capital by John Lanchester
This is a fantastic read. Lanchester draws our attentions to an affleunt South London suburb and gives us a forage into the minutae of 'a year' in the life of Pepys Road - the residents, the workers and their myriad of associations. A mysterious series of postcards creates a winding thread throughout but it is the living rather than the whodunit that held me enthralled. I'm off to see Lanchester interviewed next month (March) as part of The Guardian Book Club - can't wait!
5. London By Tube by David Revill
Subtitled A History Of Underground Station Names, this book does what it says on the tin by taking the reader - in alphabetical order - to each of the 268 stations on the network. It's absolutely fascinating and I am certain I'll be dipping back in for a refresher from time to time.
4. Winter: A Berlin Family by Len Deighton
I haven't read a Len Deighton for years and it was good to 'be back'. This intricate tale occurs during the first half of the 20th century, weaving its tendrils through two World Wars and their devastating aftermath. Absorbing reading.
3. The Cypress Tree by Kamin Mohammadi
This is a wonderful read and a real insight into a culture I had previously given little thought to. We often read expat stories about those who choose to emigrate (even as a 'trailing spouse' so to speak) but imagine the heartbreak of being forced to leave, to feel that your new culture contravenes the old one and that, as a result, you have to wear two faces. A must read.
2. Under The Weather by Tony Bradman
A series of stories about climate change written from a child/teenager's point of view. An easy read but if I'm really honest, I found myself getting bored with what felt like the same thing over and over. Not very PC I know but there you go.
1. The Moment by Douglas Kennedy
Over the last couple of years, I've become a fan of Kennedy but much to my surprise, when I looked back it's been over a year since I read A Special Relationship so I was delighted to find that The Moment kept the Kennedy flame alive. He breathes such life and complexity into his characters and draws you into their stories so completely that it's really hard to stop and turn the light off when sleep beckons!
65. The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling
A rather good read about an everyday community. Finely drawn characters in whom we sense a myriad of people we know are what make the story of community (mean) spirited-ness. Long'ish' but worth the read.
64. First Family by David Baldacci
Baldacci always writes a cracking tale and this one is no exception. Two murderous tales twist and turn throughout with the outcome being a rather satisfying one. (No spoilers peeps - we don't do those here at Gidday.)
63. Uptown Girl by Olivia Goldsmith
Light fluffy and fun - a perfect holiday read.
62. Lords of the North (The Saxon Chronicles 3) by Bernard Cornwell
I am really enjoying this series - it's a great way to learn a little bit more about England's early history without all the droll fact-finding. This one finds Uhtred leading the Saxon army north to defend his monarch's realm with hopes of regaining his own at Bebbanburg. Great storytelling.
61. The Expats by Chris Pavone
What a brilliant story. So many twists and turns in this thriller it was hard to see where it would all end...which kept me turning the pages right up to the last page. Put this on your Must Read list - especially if you are an expat!
60. Fifty Shades Darker by E L James
Another enjoyable read. It's not going to win any literary prizes but I can see the global appeal of the story and the sex. Ms James maybe prize-less but she's laughing all the way to the bank. Good for her!
59. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I loved this. Eloquent and at the same time fantastical, I felt myself led into Morgenstern's magical world from the first pages. Her writing sparks the reader's imagination - I imagine that each reader's journey through this tale will be as different and unqiue as they are themselves to each other. Absolutely wonderful.
58. 79 Park Avenue by Harold Robbins
There's nothing like a trusty tale from Harold Robbins to provide an excellent holiday read...although I seem to remember them being a little more titillating than this one. Knocked this one off (pardon the pun) in one day whilst lying by the pool. Yes it's that type of book.
57. The Last Pope by Luis Miguel Rocha
So this one was a much better read - pacy and suspenseful with just the right amount of twisting and turning. Methinks Rocha should have stopped with this one. (Ref. 56)
56. The Holy Assassin by Luis Miguel Rocha
I read the synopsis on the back cover and by rights I should have enjoyed this more. But it just dodges and weaves a little too much before a bit of an unsatisfactory ending. I'm currently reading the prequel which may improve things...or not.
55. Secrets by Freya North
A really enjoyable read. Light and not too fluffy.
54. Savages by Shirley Conran
Conran wrote this cracker many years ago and after my recent revisit to Lace (2012 #38), I decided to take another dip into Savages. Loved it...again!
53. The Settlers of Catan by Rebecca Gable
This book is actually based on the board game of the same name designed by Klaus Teuber and later published in Germany in 1995. The tale itself is really engaging, following the journey of a beseiged community as they strike out into the unknown to build a new life for themselves. What makes the story so interesting is the whole cycle of birth, death and renewal throughout - of villages, communities, beliefs and even bonds of friendship and love. A great discovery and highly recommended.
52. Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James
Well I've read it and enjoyed it. Yes it's titillating but certainly nothing new. I remember reading Harold Robbins many years ago and it seems that nothing much has changed on the erotically-charged fiction front. I will no doubt read the others in this series but to be honest, I don't know what all the hype is about.
51. Suicide Run by Michael Connelly
A series of short stories featuring the grizzled and fabulous Harry Bosch. Like an irresistible selection of crime canapes. Brilliant.
50. One Last Love by Derek Haines
An easy read - sweet and touching.
49. The Pale Horseman (The Saxon Chronicles 2) by Bernard Cornwell
This is the second in Cornwell's Alfred the Great series (the first I read was number 36. in 2011's reading list) and I cannot believe I got distracted by other bright shiny objects for so long, Such brilliant storytelling, weaving historical events with 'novel' style. Off to download number 3.
48. Touch by Mark Sennen
This is a rather gripping tale - not always (or even often, for that matter) pretty but the verdict is a good one. My first DI Savage and definitely not my last!
47. Pantheon by Sam Bourne
A bit long-winded to start - well actually for the first half - and quite good in the end. But it did feel like reading two different books.
46. Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally
A truly extraordinary story. Inspired by a chance meeting in New York, Thomas Keneally brings this unlikely champion of people and humanity to life. Having been to Krakow recently and stood in both Oskar Schindler's factory in Lipowa Street and in Plac Zgody in Podgorze (where the ghetto Jews boarded the trains for Auschwitz) gave this read extra poignancy. Highly recommended.
45. The Dinner by Herman Koch
Let me start by saying that I read the English language version, not the original Dutch one so there's no need to get all excited about any newly discovered linguistic abilities here at Gidday HQ. What you should get excited about is this book. A brilliant story with too many shades of grey (no, not that kind) to count. Thought-provoking and absolutely un-put-down-able.
44. Zero Day by David Baldacci
I love David Baldacci's books and for the life of me I don't know why I stopped reading them. John Puller is a fantastic protagonist with a bit more grit than my other literary infatuation, Ben Hope (I've read a few of these over the last year). So Mr Baldacci I am back...and with a vengeance!
43. Monday to Friday Man by Alice Peterson
A fun frolic in South West London - which also goes to show that the answer to happiness is usually right under our noses!
42. Snow Wars by J M Rumfitt
This paperback has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. Now I've finally read it, I can report: good reading, action-packed and several times throughout, I was unsure as to who the good guys really were. Right up my alley and just released on Kindle.
41. Unsuitable Men by Pippa Wright
I needed a light fluffy aeroplane read and this absolutely fitted the bill. It made me a little perturbed that this is what might be in front of me once I begin 'dating in earnest' again but there are some hilarious dating moments. Done and dusted in 24 hours and perfectly enjoyable.
40. Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah
I started reading the rather heavy going Rise and Fall of the Third Reich a little while ago and while it's fascinating, I've had to give myself a little mini-break. So seeing Sophie Hannah's latest on offer in Tesco was very opportune. Kind of Cruel is another gripping read from Hannah (I read A Room Swept White a couple of years ago and loved it) although this time, just like PC Simon Waterhouse, I 'knew' who it had to be - I just couldn't work out how. Highly recommended reading.
39. The Sacred Sword by Scott Mariani
Another Ben Hope adventure done and dusted. Exciting and pacy - just like the others. If you like light and easy action adventure type stories, the Ben Hope series could be for you.
38. Lace by Shirley Conran
The original, and the best, bonkbuster, Lace has lost none of its allure almost 30 years later. My Kindle edition had information on who the real life Kates, Pagans, Maxines and Judys were for Conran and her son Jasper even providing some inspiration. Fascinating!
37. Women and Children First by Gill Paul
This story takes the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 adds a few fictional characters and creates a heart-warming tale of survival and compassion. An enjoyable read.
36. Bitter Water by Gordon Ferris
My second Ferris this year (see 24. for my first) and loved it every bit as much. There's a grittiness to the stories that I really enjoy and I'm looking forward to my next one.
35. Golden Lies by Barbara Freethy
Oh dear. Trashy, trashy, trashy. And not in a good way.
34. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
So with the reading of Mockingjay, The Hunger Games Trilogy is done. My favourite still remains Book 2 - Catching Fire - but the three stories provide such different perspectives of Katniss Everdeen that I wonder whether my fave would have lost something if I hadn't read the other two. Catching Fire is in essence a revolutionary tale but the subtexts of personal agenda and trust leave the reader guessing until the end. And who does Katniss end up with? Now that would be telling...
33. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I LOVED this. More than The Hunger Games. So much that I've gone straight on to Mockingjay. Back soon...
32. Bound to Sarah by Craig Brennan
This tale charts the lives of a husband and wife from Liverpool across the seas to the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land. I've never read a novel that had this rather infamous part of Australia's history as its theme and I enjoyed the story of Pat and Sarah. So all in all it was a quite satisfying yet strangely patriotic experience.
31. The Tea Planter's Daughter by Janet MacLeod Trotter
This is one of those sweeping saga stories where the protagonists fall on hard times and recover with dignity and courage to be swept away at the end by the one they crossed swords with at the start. It's a formulaic but an enjoyable read and rather good for the soul. But I must be off and polish that glass slipper...now where did I leave it last?
30. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
OK so it was hard to get into and I felt frustrated most of the time, feeling like it was all just going in circles. This may have been the author's intention - you know, like a Catch 22 - but quite frankly I won't be rushing back for another read.
29. The Shadow Project by Scott Mariani
Ben Hope adventure number 5 done! Phew! What a ride...
28. The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
Freud meets fiction and what a combination. Based in the early 1900s around Freud's visit to America, Rubenfeld adds the fictional Dr Stratham Younger and a string of attacks on women to the mix. Underpinning the activities born out by quite a convoluted criminal mind is the debate between Freud, the father of psychoanalytics and his protogee, Carl Jung, best known for his work on the interpretation of dreams. Given I studied psychology at uni, I absolutely loved this combination!
27. Compromised by Derek Keyte, Danielle Keyte
Set in the time of IRA vs Sinn Fein vs everyone else who had a view on the state of Ireland, a rookie soldier goes missing one evening and is rescued from the clutches of the PIRA within a few days. But what's great is that the story continues on to focus on the aftermath as he adjusts to life beyond the original events. Riveting.
26. The Penal Colony by Richard Herley
This is a brilliant read. Challenged by both the environment and his own past, protagonist Routledge learns more about himself and what brings him fulfilment in the most unlikely setting. Really glad I chose Herley and his story early in my Kindle life!
25. The Lost Relic by Scott Mariani
That's Ben Hope adventure number 6 done and the Mariani minibreak has done me the world of good. Loved this cracking tale and it was great to see a fiery female - in the shape of Darcey Kane - give him a run for his money in the spy stakes. ps. I have just realised that I missed number 5 - The Shadow Project. So much for reading them in order!
24. The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris
Ex 'polis'man Douglas Brodie returns from the second world war filled with demons and the desire to cast off his old life. But a desperate call from the past finds him tracking down the truth from Glasgow to the wilds of Scotland and Northern Ireland and back again. A whodunnit that reveals itself early but keeps you guessing with the whys and wherefores right until the end.
23. Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster
This legal thriller kept me guessing right up until the final page. I spent the book doing the rounds of each suspect, nailing them in my mind only to find that the next chapter had my attentions focussed somewhere else. Protagonist and lawyer Josie is atypical and slightly unlikable and I think the story is better for that. And the best thing of all? It was FREE on Amazon so downloading to Audrey was as quick as you like! I do love my Kindle...
22. Invisible by Lorena McCourtney
This is my first dip into an Ivy Malone Mystery and at first, I wasn't sure about this LOL (Little Old Lady) and her stories. But I quite warmed to this spirited protagonist about a third of the way in and enjoyed following her somewhat rambling trail to seek the truth.
21. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
I haven't read this since High School English and I'd forgotten its capacity to shock. The ferocity of the savagery amongst the young British school boys that Golding conjures up is unbelievably powerful and I'm still left at the end of the story wondering whether it was all some great human 'experiment'. Unforgettable - still.
20. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I read this in two sittings, it is that unputdownable. There's a lot of hype around the movie but I wanted to let my imagination form my own judgement. It reminds me a little of William Golding's Lord of the Flies (which I'm reading next) 'sexed up' for the Runescape generation. After all, the arena reads like a game and the Capitol are the controllers of the action.
19. Hide In Plain Sight by Marta Perry
An enjoyable couple hours spent reading this. It was an Amazon freebie and I was a little concerned that it might be overtly religious with the story following the reluctant return of the prodigal daughter to the family (Amish) fold. But actually it was quite a good balance - enough for me to glimpse and be interested rather than fighting a deluge of worthy sentiment. A bit one-dimensional character-wise but good anyway.
18. The Heretic's Treasure by Scott Mariani
Ben Hope adventure number 4 done and dusted. The commuting landscape still disappeared as I devoured e-page after e-page but I didn't find the female characters all that engaging in this one. Perhaps having read the one about the love of his life previously, this felt a little trite and I'm sure there could have been more substantial motivation for Hope's eventual triumph over evil. Good but not quite as good as the others.
17. Fatherland by Robert Harris
A thriller set in the middle of quite frankly an enormous concept, a world dominated by a Germany that won the war. I got onto this after seeing Robert Harris interviewed at the Guardian Open Weekend in March 2012 and it was a fantastic read. Harris wrote (or almost didn't as he explained in the interview) Fatherland 20 years ago and I'm glad he did. It's thought-provoking and thrilling at the same time, with many twists and turns and a slightly hard edge. After all, this could have been 'life as we know it' instead of the world we know now.
16. The Tangled Web by Lacey Dearie
Light and easy does it. Perfect beach holiday reading.
15. Louis by Derek Haines
Having followed Derek Haines on Twitter for a little while, I took advantage of his recent generous offer to download one of his books for free and Louis was a great choice. Louis was born in Cairo in a life (and with another name) far removed from where we find him at the end of the story. In between, he adopts many names, manners and lives as a 'servant of Whitehall' and while the pace of each sojourn is exciting, at the end both he and the reader wonder what it was all for. An excellent read.
14. Dear Coca Cola by Terry Ravenscroft
This is a series of amusing written exchanges between the author and the Customer Service departments of many well-known brands. It's a quick easy read (I was done in an hour) and from the ubiquitous Coca Cola of the title through to Mrs Baxter's test kitchen, the variety of responses was astonishing. It would appear there are indeed some very good Customer Service people in the UK - they just don't work for Tesco!
13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I love this book. Every time I read it, I feel moved throughout and incredibly satisfied at the end. I first read it as a teenager as part of the English Literature syllabus at High School and I keep coming back to it every few years. There's always lots of talk about the film version(s) but nothing measures up to the imagery wrought by Bronte's brilliant pen. A true classic.
12. My Last Blind Date by Susan Hatler
Short, cute, funny. It was all over in about 15 minutes and I was left with a nice warm fuzzy feeling.
11. The Eighth Scroll by Dr Laurence B. Brown
As I started this one, I did wonder whether I had been reading too many 'religious' thrillers of late what with foray with the Borgias at number 6 and my Ben Hope addiction going strong. This is a good read and I wasn't disappointed. But I think I need to read a few more genres before coming back to this one - three since the last thriller obviously wasn't enough!
10. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Another great story from this Aussie (see 8. in 2011 for thoughts on my first Morton). She moves effortlessly between present and past and I really enjoyed this tale of 'upstairs, downstairs' between the classes.
9.5 or 2011 - 55b. Seven Daze by Charlie Wade
After reading The Bailout last year (see no. 51) and having enjoyed some of his other writing, Charlie approached me to 'proof' this new story and give some feedback prior to publication. Having read the majority pre-Christmas, I was just waiting for the last few chapters before getting the word out. Charlie writes with 'a twist' (bit like a good gin and tonic) so I need to keep schtum on any plot spoilers but it's a brilliant read and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he finds a publisher for this gem soon. In the meantime, keep an eye on his blog Spies, Lies and Pies for updates on Seven Daze as well as checking out some of his other stuff.
9. Dannii: My Story by Dannii Minogue
I have been a Dannii fan since she first appeared on Young Talent Time in 70s Australia. Not only was it refreshing to read her story and understand the times she seemed to soar above then drop off the radar, but her reminisces about her childhood in Australia were wonderful...we had an above ground pool too! I loved this one.
8. Anne Devlin: The Bravest of the Brave by Micheal O'Doibhilin
I have a family connection to the Devlins of Ireland through my mother's side and so when we visited Kilmainham Jail on a visit to Dublin early in 2012, saw this little booklet in the museum bookshop and met Micheal O'Doibhilin himself, it was a must buy. And a fascinating read.
7. The Doomsday Prophecy by Scott Mariani
The third Ben Hope tale - I've decided to read the series in order to get the whole picture in the right chronology but on its own, it's another cracking read. On with number 4 I say!
6. The Borgias by Christopher Hibbert
This one was hard to get into. A bit dry and slow at the start but by the time I'd finished, I felt I'd actually enjoyed my first dip into the infamous Borgias. Borgias 101 - done!
5. So Much For That by Lionel Shriver
The title says it all peeps. Despite all the 'rave reviews, my fourth Shriver may make me hesitate before picking up another. Hard work for a trite ending.
4. The Fashion Police by Sibel Hodge
The story was quite good but the characters irritating and the pseudo-swearing of protagonist, Amber Fox just made her seem even less authentic as a character. (For example, she says, 'crappety crap'. I mean - really?) Well, it was a Kindle freebie. Nuff said.
3. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
After reading The Leopard last year (see number 44) I was delighted to find this one in the bookshop at Istanbul Airport (I forgot to check Audrey's battery pre-trip and she temporarily died on me). I don't find Harry Hole a particularly sympathetic character but I don't dislike him either - which means the story stays at the forefront for me rather than the character. And it's another cracking read.
2. The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani
The second in the Ben Hope series and another enjoyable easy ride!
1. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Having escaped from an Australian prison and spent eight years in the Bombay underworld, Roberts bases this novel on his real experiences. His writing is amazing, conjuring up the sights, sounds and smells of his beloved Bombay with every page and I smiled every time he encountered the wonderful Prabaker, the 'very excellent first number Bombay guide' with the enormous smile. This book may have even opened my previously closed heart to the possibility of a visit to India. Stay open-minded for an experience unlike any other - this is an expatriate tale of a very different kind.
58. French Lessons by Ellen Sussman
Light and fluffy holiday read. Enjoyable enough.
57. Perking The Pansies: Jack and Liam Move To Turkey
I have been reading Jack's blog for a few months before I read this book so I wondered what to expect. The first part was not an easy read for me, reminding me of my first year in London when I was determined not to be pigeon-holed as the stereotypical 'Walkabout' Aussie. Jack and Liam's winding path through the Ignorati, the VOMITs, the Emigreys is not unIque to the hills of Anatolia but this adds richness to where we find them in the final chapters. A must read for expats, travellers and life's adventurers - big and small.
56. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
What an amazing amazing book. Everyone should read this. And don't stop at the end of the last chapter either. Make sure you turn a few more pages and read about Kathryn's own experience and her inspiration for the book. Extraordinary and unputdownable.
55a. Seven Daze by Charlie Wade
So for those of you who have been wondering about this one - it was billed as a 'secret reading mission' until now - I am pleased to draw back the curtains and present Charlie Wade's Seven Daze. Head up to 2012 number 9.5 for more...
54. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Good start, bit slow in the middle and a slide to a slightly tragic end (in a pathetic character kind of way). Not bad but not entirely enamoured either.
53. Vienna Blood by Frank Tallis
An interesting crime thriller set in Vienna in 1902. I loved all of the Freudian references and even though you find out who dunnit about three quarters of the way through, it was still fascinating to read on and find out how Leibermann and Reinhardt finally bring the killer to ground.
52. Passenger 13 by Scott Mariani
The prequel to number 47 on the list. The commute just disappeared into the background while immersed in this.
51. The Bailout by Charlie Wade
Charlie Wade has been a 'blogging' discovery for me (I've been following his blog Spies, Lies and Pies for a while now) so when he published this, Audrey was at the ready for a download. I loved it - like in a 'oh crap here's my train/bus stop and I'm not quite ready' kind of way - and then it finished quite suddenly. Needless to say I feel incomplete and would like a sequel please Charlie!
50. A Special Relationship by Douglas Kennedy
My third Kennedy this year and another fantastic read. This guy really has the ability to get under the skin of his female protagonists!
49. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A bit of a re-read here but since I haven't read it since Year 11 English Literature, I think it counts towards my challenge. I'd forgotten how irritating the first Cathy in the book is but still closed Audrey at the end feeling like I'd enjoyed the saga all over again.
48. Glitz by Louise Bagshawe
Cover to cover in 4 hours. What a shame I wasn't basking by a pool, cocktail waiters at my beck and call...sigh!
47. The Alchemist's Secret by Scott Mariani
The first in the Ben Hope series and my first Mariani. Definitely not my last. A great way to while away the commute.
46. Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough
A long read (particularly since being a hard back precluded it from commuting) but enjoyable and definitely worthwhile. I love reading anything based on history and this was a fantastic re-telling of some of history's most famous fascinations - Antony with Cleopatra, Cleopatra with power, Octavius (who became Augustus) with Rome.
45. Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence
Wow! I enjoyed this more than I thought I would and not just because of all of the salacious details either. A great story about self-discovery and the classes more than anything.44. The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
'They' say Nesbo is the next Larsson. I say not. This is a unique style with intricate twists and turns until the final page. A real find. Will be back for more.
43. My 1st e-book: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women (and Good Wives) was indeed a re-reading but I took the opportunity to read the other two in the series - Jo's Boys and Little Men - for the first time. A wonderful way to start my love affair with Audrey!
42. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
I do like a good crime read and Brookmyre's are just a bit left of centre to make them interesting.
41. Pompeii by Robert Harris
Excellent fictionalised account of the eruption of Vesuvius (which I climbed in the late 90s) and the subsequent destruction of Pompeii (which I had visited two days prior) in AD79. Very enjoyable.
40. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
This is not an 'enjoyable' book. Now that that is out of the way, rest assured I would still recommend it. It is confronting, opinionated and thought provoking - it's an insight into the reader themselves. Just watch your opinions firm up and then waver as you learn more about each of the people involved.
39. A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French
Well no, not really. Not even a tiny bit. I love Dawn French but the marvellous-ness just wasn't there for me.
38. The Twenty-Seventh City by Jonathan Frantzen
Eureka! Another amazing discovery. Franzten rocks! Bring on the next one.
37. Stephen Fry in America
Oh oh oh what an amazing journey this was! Mr Fry manages to apply his uncommon intellect to the curiousities of America's 'every-men' and comes to the conclusion that there really is no such thing is an 'American' but rather a unique and sprawling diversity that any other nation would have to seriously stretch themselves to get even close to. Wonderful and on the shelf for revisiting.
36. The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Chronicles 1) by Bernard Cornwell
The first in this series about Alfred The Great - fantastic. Am now off to read the rest!
35. The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
I've not read much Russian or Chinese-themed literature so I quite enjoyed this double-dose of 'expanding my cultural horizons'. Enjoyable rather than breath-taking so I give it three and a half out of five stars.
34. Twice Shy by Dick Francis
Another neat and horse-y book from Francis. Easy reading.
33. Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
I loved reading this. Bryson has a way of bringing the poignant eccentricites of the British to life and just reminded me of the things I love about living here.
32. Night Music by JoJo Moyes
An easy read about victory over the small, everyday battles with self and the search for peace.
31. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Never thought I'd see the day when I warmed to Thomas Cromwell - just goes to show, two sides and all of that. Great read!
30. Leaving The World by Douglas Kennedy
My second book of his after discovering him earlier in the year (see 5.). As un-put-down-able as the first. A heart-wrenching page turner.
29. The Blair Years by Alistair Campbell
I read it. All 700+ pages of it. And I expected to have stronger opinions throughout than I did. But the thing that struck me most was how many extraordinary events occurred over a 10 year period, and how few of them I would have spontaneously remembered. Whether you think it's the gospel truth or just more propaganda, this is a thought-provoking look at the events that shaped a distinctive decade in world politics.
28. The Dressmaker by Elizabeth Birkelund Oberbeck
Easy reading, simple story - very nice!
27. Nine Dragons by Michael Connelly
I love Michael Connelly. Detective Harry Bosch is just grizzled enough to be interesting! And this triad tale kept me guessing right until the end.
26. Becoming Queen by Kate Williams
This book focuses on Queen Victoria's formative years and the early years of her reign right up to the birth of her second child Prince Edward. Fascinating!
25. The Sacred Art of Stealing by Christopher Brookmyre
It took me 3-4 chapters to get into this (graphic sexual references while commuting are, erm...shall we say 'challenging') but once I was in, I loved it. Very cleverly written and I loved how, as the story went on, the layers kept unfolding until all of the characters' relationships and raisons d'etre made sense. Will definitely read more of his stuff.
24. Tyrant by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Excellent fictionalised account of the reign of Dionysius I and his campaign to win the island of Sicily. I don't know how much was true but it's well worth a read!
23. Double Fault by Lionel Shriver
I love Lionel Shriver. She has this really uncompromising style which is not so much a 'hit you between the eyes' but more a 'let's not sugar-coat the feelings/motives/actions of our protagonists' approach. This book left me reeling and it all seemed to end rather suddenly, leaving me feeling a bit like she just 'up and left' before our conversation finished.
22. The Danger by Dick Francis
Another great read and actually part of an omnibus of two stories by Francis (do two stories make an omnibus or is there another word for it?) so expect a comment on another Francis adventure soon-ish!
21. Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner
A REEEEEALLY interesting read. I love to read things that make me think about what makes people tick. Click here for just one of my little musings...
20. Filthy Rich by Wendy Holden
A good holiday read...just the right length/weight for lying by the pool/beach and dipping in and out at leisure. Although a significant proportion of the chapters seemed to be dedicated to getting all the characters 'set up' before actually getting to the heart of the story...which then finished rather suddenly! But enjoyable nonetheless.
19. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
Another great historical easy-read from Gregory. Having read the companion novel, The White Queen (about House of York Queen, Elizabeth Woodville) late last year, the venality of Margaret Beaufort in pursuing the Lancaster legacy took me somewhat by surprise and I've been left with one rather enduring thought - read both books to get the balanced view!
18. The Cold Moon by Jeffrey Deaver
How I love a good crime thriller and Deaver is up there with the best of them. Spending time between the covers with Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs as they track their latest killer is just more excitement than a girl can stand on a morning commute. And the end just twisted and turned and twisted again...
17. Persuasion by Jane Austen
A lovely book and the only Jane Austen novel I hadn't read - until now. All 6 sit on my bookshelf in hardback and this one certainly earned its place amongst the others. A tip though - read it in the Spring sunshine on a Saturday afternoon when you can completely lose yourself in the meandering and magic prose of Austen.
16. Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence
Fantastic look at the woman who wrote some of the brilliantly-crafted and best-loved novels of all time. Her glorious writing stands the test of time and this biography shines a light into the nooks and crannies of her own life that found their way into the pages of her six timeless classics.
15. Atlantis by David Gibbins
I normally love Atlantis-themed novels but this was just too far-fetched. Enjoyable but only a 3 (out of 5)-star read for me.
14. Dead Heat by Dick Francis and Felix Francis
I had forgotten what a cracking read a Dick Francis novel is - a bit like a more substantial John Grisham or a James Patterson with longer chapters. Great for whiling away the long commute!
13. Billy by Pamela Stephenson
Having seen Billy Connelly live about 10 years ago, I was curious to read this. Heart-warmingly relayed by his NZ/Australian wife (and doctor of Psychology), this is full of vintage Connelly antics and really put the pieces of the 'anything but biege' Connelly puzzle together for me.
12. The Best of Times by Penny Vincenzi
Long, convoluted, lots of detail and a predictable happy ending...but mainly just really long.
11. Radiance by Shaena Lambert
A novel about all things human - judgement, morality, prejudice and attachment. One minute, I sat in judgement from one perspective then in a flash, I found myself judging my own perception and opinions. Thought-provoking.
10. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
So that's it. The Millenium Trilogy done. Number three was political - and challenging as a result - but unreservedly satisfying in the end. The series stays on my bookshelf bestowed with the honour of 're-read' status.
9. Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
A really gripping storyline but overtly gory and sometimes I had to really steel myself to read on. Not for the faint-hearted!
8. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
What an unexpected joy this turned out to be! Although I had to make sure that I read it in chapter blocks - a couple of times I stopped midway through (had to get off the train, fell asleep etc...), then forgot which timeframe I was reading and got completely confused about who was doing what! But I'd definitely add this to your list.
7. The Prodigal Spy by Joseph Kanon
I really enjoyed this one - all the twists and turns. I ended up suspecting everyone in this tale of two-faces...
6. Hot House Flower by Margot Berwin
An odd read - sort of like the Celestine Prophecy but in Exotic Plants...the jury's out on this one.
5. The Big Picture by Douglas Kennedy
Not a new book at all but passed on by a friend as she cleaned out her office desk...and glad she did. I feel like I've 'discovered' a new author to read.
4. Paths To Glory by Jeffrey Archer
A great 'what-if' retelling of history...not a huge Archer fan but I highly recommend this one.
3. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
A surprisingly great read...a fascinating commentary on 'the classes'.
2. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
As amazingly unput-down-able and great as the first one. Can't believe I waited (aka was being perverse about following 'the crowd') so long to read these.
1. Sir Elton: The Definitive Biography of Elton John by Philip Norman
Great, great biography - and quite poignant in light of their recent adoption.