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Archive > Happy New Year, a review of 2017 and a peek into 2018

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message 1: by Ian (new)

Ian | 3024 comments Mod
Hi everyone. Thought I'd close the year with a few posts to both reflect back on 2017 and also to look forward to a new book year in 2018. I'd love to hear about the books you've read during the year - what you've loved and what you've not enjoyed so much.

The downside of this wonderful book network is that I've not read quite so many books as in previous years but I managed a creditable 44 books in total - I completed my A-Z of writers (with 33 previously unread by me) but am only half way through the A-Z of Devon writers (more of that in another post)

So - the books I've loved the most:
I began the year by reading the full set of Elena Ferrante's wonderful Neapolitan novels. There aren't enough superlatives for her writing. I absolutely loved them. The trouble was, I was then wondering where I was going to find exceptional writing for the rest of the year.

I needn't have worried though - Tan Twan Eng's masterful Gift of Rain lifted me mid year, quickly followed by Tove Jansson's Summer Book, Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence (he is one of my all time favourite writers and this book was no disappointment) and Kapuskinski's Travel with Herodotus (one I will re-read). I was also delighted to discover Hazel Manuel during the Autumn and thoroughly enjoyed Geranium Woman.

There were other good reads but these were the stand-out books for me by non-Devon based writers (I will post separately about local writers). I would unreservedly recommend them all to you - they are very different - but isn't this what we look for in novels? Being taken to different places, through distinctive styles of writing


message 2: by Ian (new)

Ian | 3024 comments Mod
I said yesterday that I would post about books I've read by Devon authors this year. The A-Z challenge will roll forward into 2018 as no-one has completed it yet - so keep those reviews coming.
I began the year, very aptly, with an A - Kathryn Aalto to be precise and I have to say that I absolutely loved her book The Natural World of Winnie The Pooh - I smiled all the way through it. If you've not read it yet, I really do recommend it.
But, just to show that I am not entirely predictable and linear in my choices, my last Devon writer of the year was Catherine Bond with her adventure book for children of all ages Moonmirror - a great romp and the first in a series that I am sure will do well.
In between I thoroughly enjoyed reading:
Lucy Banks - The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost - a supernatural thriller that kept me hooked
Damien Boyd - As The Crow Flies - the first in his series of crime novels; Damien also entertained us at our Dartmouth event. He has sold over 1m books now and it is easy to see why. His books are a great read
Amanda Craig book The Lie of The Land was also featured at the Budleigh Lit Fest and received excellent reviews. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which tells the tale of a family which relocates to Devon to find that life is not a quiet idyll here by any means
I had read Elizabeth Ducie first book Gorgito's Ice Rink previously so was excited to read her book Counterfeit this year - a chilling story of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry
Some of you will remember Graham Hurley from an event at Sidmouth some time ago. Graham is a hugely successful and award winning crime writer and I was not disappointed when I read Western Approaches - who knew Devon is so dangerous!
Margaret James is well known to many of you and I have had the pleasure of meeting her several times - but had not read her work before. I read Elegy for a Queen in the summer and very much enjoyed the blending of history with contemporary story-telling
You may have watched the video of my chat with Casey OConnor about her book Being Bridie - in a former life I was a child protection social worker and this story really spoke to me - it is an insightful, often harrowing, yet also funny story of fostering and adoption and I look forward to the sequel in due course. I also had the pleasure of meeting Lorna Howarth who publishes the book from her Hartland - based publishing company The Write Factor.
Sometime earlier in the chillier part of the year, I read Chrissie Parker book Among The Olive Groves - I could feel the heat of Zakynthos from here. The story switches between the modern day and war time Greece - love, betrayal, bravery - its all here. I enjoyed the book and learned more about the war time resistence movement. I keep offering to carry Chrissies bags when she researches her next book (if it's set in Greece - nowhere chilly please) but for some reason it has not happened yet
Next up Bernie Steadman Death and Deception - a cheerful lot these Devon writers! I think I bought Bernie's book at Tiverton LitFest and, again, thoroughly enjoyed it. A fast paced book, it kept me hooked
Chris Tetreault-Blay book Acolyte took me into a different genre - a horror/thriller - not usually what I read but just goes to show. It held me throughout and I am looking forward to reading the other two in his Wildermoor Apocolypse series
From one former social worker to another - Jill Treseder featured at our Dartmouth event and I was delighted to read her book A Place of Safety in advance of that (I also posted a picture of it on a bike ride in the summer if that rings a bell - pun intended). A thoughtful and moving book involving love and loss and finding a new life after the death of a partner. Told with compassion and in a very engaging way - a thought-provoking book
Tom Vowler crowd funded his book of short stories Dazzling the Gods and I highly recommend you read it - insightful, funny, often moving; this is a wonderful collection from a perceptive writer
Karen Wheeler Sweet Encore is an engaging and funny book of travel through Portugal with a young niece - a lovely, gentle read which I very much enjoyed
W was obviously a popular letter for me as I also read LE Willetts debut novel Cross Killer - Lucy spoke very entertainingly at our Dartmouth event and I read her book in advance of that. A crime thriller, Cross Killer kept me guessing throughout. I don't read many crime books but I very much enjoyed this one and am very much looking forward to reading her next book, which is currently being written
And, last but not least in the W's, I read Crone by Jeannie Wycherley. I also bought this book at Tiverton LitFest, where I had the pleasure of chatting to Jeannie about her work. Crone is a supernatural thriller and a work of great imagination, inspired by witchcarft and landscape. Her debut novel, I very much hope we will see more of Jeannie's work in due course
So - there you have it - a wide ranging set of books by a fabulous group of writers. We are very fortunate to have such talent available to us locally.
I will just finally mention Stevenson-Olds and Clare Helen Welsh who also spoke at our Dartmouth event. I have previously read The Human Jigsaw and am looking forward to reading The Waters Edge during 2018 Clare delighted us with her talk at the event and is a huge hit with children with her books Aerodynamics of Biscuits and Biscuit Blast Off
There are many others who have entertained us on these pages during the year and have generously given books in Giveaway competitions Jane Holland Lock The Door, Loreley Amiti - Author Moon Lantern; Mich English Book of Fire; J.G. Harlond The Chosen Man and Linda Huber, who gave the lucky winner a choice of her books.
Thanks to you all for making Devon such a vibrant place to live.


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