As with 2014, some were superb, others I did not finish. Most were historical fiction; a few were non-fiction. I read several in my capacity as book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and the Washington Independent Review of Books, and a few for feature articles in HNS.
I suspect I’m a ‘hard marker’. Here’s the rating system I used last year: LR = light, enjoyable read; GR = good, several caveats; ER = excellent, few caveats; OR = outstanding; DNF = did not finish; NMT = not my type.
The following are from January 2015 to May. I’ve included links to blog posts and reviews where appropriate. I’ll share the balance in a few days.
|Jan||Penelope Fitzgerald||Hermione Lee||DNF||Biography – far too much detail|
|Firebird||Susanna Kearsley||GR||Loved The Winter Sea, but I think Kearsley needs to try a new theme|
|Sisters of Heart and Snow||Margaret Dilloway||GR||HNS feature; the tale of a female samurai; too much present day not enough history|
|Writing Historical Fiction||Marina Oliver||GR||Much of the advice is very basic|
|Historical Fiction Writing||Myfanwy Cook||GR||Lots of good advice, research ideas and useful reference sites|
|Feb||The Glory of Life||Michael Kumpfmuller||GR||WIRO book review; last years of Franz Kafka; rich in detail, light on drama|
|The Heroes Welcome||Louisa Young||ER||HNS Review; A novel about the effects of WWI; highly recommended|
|Mar||The Foundling’s War||Michel Deon||GR||A look at WWII France; present tense and omniscient narrator detract from story|
|Hell and Good Company||Richard Rhodes||ER||HNS review; non-fiction on Spanish Civil War|
|All the Light We Cannot See – Pulitzer prize 2015||Anthony Doerr||OR||A five star IMHO; could not put this WWII novel down|
|The Wild Girl||Kate Forsyth||GR||A story about the brothers Grimm; pacing slow in parts|
|Apr||The Sandcastle Girls||Chris Bojalian||GR||Book club; blending of past and present did not work for me|
|The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent||Susan Elia MacNeal||LR||Set during WWII; light mystery|
|Writing Historical Fiction||Katharine McMahon||ER||A short, straight forward read with some excellent advice|
|The Historical Novel – post 1 and post 2||Jerome de Groot||ER||Have read this twice; Traces the roots and impact of historical fiction|
|Write Away||Elizabeth George||ER||A second read of this book on the craft of writing|
|The Dinner||Herman Koch||NMT||Book club; not one sympathetic character|
|The Stranger||Harlan Corben||LR||Audiobook – tense mystery|
|May||Cairo||Olen Steinhauer||LR||Complicated mystery set in Cairo|
|Pompeii||Robert Harris||OR||Superb story of Pompeii’s destruction|
|The First Five Pages (a second reading)||Noah Lukeman||ER||Great practical advice for writers|
|Scent of Triumph||Jan Moran||NMT||Book review; far too melodramatic|
|The Secret Life of Violet Grant||Beatriz Williams||ER||Great voice; strong blend of present day and past|
|Personal||Lee Child||LR||Audiobook; good mystery for a long drive|
Two outstanding reads, seven excellent ones.
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.