Bookhound 2013

Well it's that time of year again. I must be getting older as the end of the year seems to come round quicker and quicker. 2013 has been an odd year for me. There've been some wonderful highs, and some horrible lows, have met some lovely people, went on a memorable idyllic holiday in July, and have had months where it was hard to believe how many things in your life could fall apart one after the other.

On the book front I've read and reviewed 89 books this year, including my first reviewed for a publisher, and received some great comments via Twitter from two of the authors I reviewed. Of the 89 volumes, 25 were old friends, the rest were new reads. Just 8 were non-fiction, but they were complete crackers. I met some great new authors this year. I fell in love with the Victorian writer, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and was thrilled by Michael Jecks' medieval mysteries. Of the 89 reads over half were borrowed from libraries. An indication, if one was ever needed, that in times of economic hardship libraries are more necessary than ever. Most of the books were originally written in English although there were a fair number of translations from Spanish, Russian, Greek, French, Czech and various Scandinavian languages.

So we come to the Bookhound awards for 2013, with awards for Book of the Year, Top Fiction, Non-fiction, New read, Old friend, Crime of the year, Newly discovered author, and everyone's least favourite award Stinker of the year.

Top fiction
Lots of good reads this year in this category, but my top 5 contenders are: The marrying of Chani Kaufman, The big sleep, That summer, The Brothers Karamazov, Curtain: Poirot's last case.
And the winner is.....Eve Harris' wonderful Marrying of Chani Kaufman.

Top non-fiction
Not many non-fiction books this year, but all were thoroughly enjoyable. My top reads were: Travellers' Tales France, Play it again, Seven men at daybreak, Nicholas and Alexandra.
And the winner is, without any doubt, Alan Rusbridger's Play it again. For any musician this was such a stimulating read. It made me think again about the process involved in learning an instrument, and think too about my own musical journey.

New read
There were a lot of quality new reads. My favourites were: The marrying of Chani Kaufman, Play it again, Victorian ghost stories, The small house at Allington and The house of silk.
Anthony Horowitz' re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes The House of Silk comes very close, but it's a double for Chani Kaufman.

Old friend
So many well-loved old friends were visited again this year. I loved re-reading: A Christmas carol, That summer, Curtain: Poirot's last case, Wildfire at midnight and Appointment with Venus.
Mary Stewart's Wildfire at Midnight was a delight - so much better than I remembered it, while I had to rewrite this post at short notice having been blown away by the very brilliant Curtain; but the winner is Andrew Greig's moving That Summer - a beautiful book.

Newly-discovered author
I discovered some brilliant authors through 2013. The wonderful Mary Elizabeth Braddon, who I discovered recently also writes a great ghost story, Michael Jecks author of medieval murder mysteries, Spencer Quinn who can make a canine PI believable, Eve Harris whose first novel blew me away, and Jiri Weil whose work is a testament to what is best in the human spirit.

For sheer enjoyment, and because I know this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, it has to be Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

Crime of the year
There was some great crime from old favourites like Curtain by Christie to the very modern but also classic in style Kate Atkinson. My five favourites were Curtain: Poirot's last case by Agatha Christie, Kate Atkinson's Case histories, Spenser Quinn's Dog on it, Raymond Chandler's The big sleep, and Anthony Horowitz' The house of silk. And the winner is Christie's superb Curtain - a lesson in how to write brilliant crime.

Stinker of the year
There've been some great books this year, but also some real shockers. Among them: The secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie, proof that even great writers can get it wrong, Nichola McAuliffe's dreadful but oddly endearing A fanny full of soap, another great writer gone wrong P.D. James' Death comes to Pemberley, the badly aged The Wimbledon Poisoner, and the awful The black rose of Florence by Giuttari. Writing badly yourself is bad enough, dragging Jane Austen down with you is unpardonable, the loser is Death comes to Pemberley.

Book of the year
No doubt of the contenders here, all previously mentioned. Chani Kaufman, Play it again, Curtain: Poirot's last case, That summer, and the Oxford book of Victorian ghost stories. And here, I'm afraid I have to give up, I loved all of these far too much to decide between them. They were all wonderful.
A very Happy 2014 to all readers of Bookhound. May there be a very happy year of reading ahead.


Popular Posts