Books 2017


  1. Blue Door Venture – Pamela Brown.
  2. Truly, Madly, Guilty – Liane Moriarty (audio).
  3. Dragon’s Claw – Peter O’Donnell. Because it turns out I didn’t want to read anything on my TBR pile, I wanted to read about Modesty Blaise instead.


  1. Real Tigers – Mick Herron. These are all fab.
  2. Amy & Isabelle – Elizabeth Strout.
  3. Snow Blind – Ragnar Jonasson. For me, this suffered from being a first novel and in translation. It was good but a bit thin.
  4. American Housewife – Helen Ellis.
  5. Daughter of the Wolf – Victoria Whitworth.
  6. Watch Her Disappear – Eva Dolan.
  7. A Dance to the Music of Time (vol 1) – Anthony Powell (audio).
  8. Haunted Castles – Ray Russell. A lovely collection of Gothic tales, how had I never heard of him before?


  1. The Last Voice You Hear – Mick Herron (audio). Second in the Oxford series and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. There’s always the nice Oxfordness, of course (namecheck of Borders! I liked that Borders), and Zoe is an indomitable character.
  2. Giving up the Ghost – Hilary Mantel. In a lovely, pale yellow, clothbound Slightly Foxed edition that is the perfect size for one’s hand. I feel, when reading it, that I should be on a steam train somewhere in the 40s, possibly at risk of getting a smut in my eye.
  3. All Passion Spent – Vita Sackville-West.
  4. Thus Was Adonis Murdered – Sarah Caudwell.
  5. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John Le Carre.
  6. The Smell of Summer Grass – Adam Nicolson.
  7. Little Men – Louisa May Alcott.
  8. The Wrong Knickers – Bryony. In all honesty, I went to London and forgot to take a book and this was what I could find in Smith’s at Marylebone for the return journey.
  9. Diamond Star Halo – Tiffany Murray. I didn’t even know she’d written more than Sugar Hall. Loved the characters and the prose of this but actually would have liked more of it, as a great big sprawling family saga.
  10. Resistance – Owen Sheers. I heard the movie being discussed on Front Row years ago, but never saw it playing anywhere. Not a huge fan of counter-factual stuff but the small scale of this sounds interesting. And it was, although tending inevitably to tragedy.
  11. Harriet – Jilly Cooper. I don’t even remember when I last romped through all these quick romances. This was a junk food snack.
  12. Daughter of the Empire – Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts – Much as above. Surprised by how much I remember as I went along. Don’t need to read the rest of the trilogy.


  1. Night Waking – Sarah Moss.
  2. The Bird Tribunal – Agnes Ravatn. Lordy.
  3. Mothering Sunday – Graham Swift.
  4. St Clare’s – Enid Blyton. Picked up a three vols in one and had a happy hour or so on Sunday afternoon revisiting my youth. Remembered very little of it, I always preferred Malory Towers.
  5. Summertime, All the Cats Are Bored – Philippe Georget. A grand thing about a day out on your own is all the reading time you get as well as being out. Consequently, I read on the train, over lunch, during the interval at the theatre so there were only a handful of a pages to get through when I got home. Loved this, character driven police procedural.
  6. Madame Solario – Gladys Huntington. This is dragging for me, so I’m going to have to blitz it to get through it.
  7. Good Clean Fight – Derek Robinson.
  8. Skating to Antarctica – Jenny Diski.
  9. Spook Street – Mick Herron. Another outing for Jackson Lamb, another day survived for the Slow Horses. Well, most of them. I’m glad to see Catherine Standish back.
  10. And the Rest Is History – Jodi Taylor (audio). There are times when all the driving that my job brings with it is a good thing, and those times are mostly when there’s a good audiobook to be listened to.
  11. The Dry – Jane Harper (audio).
  12. A Dance to the Music of Time, 2nd movement – Anthony Powell. I listened to vol 1 again on audio and fell straight back under the spell, so I shall work my way through the rest.


  1. The Gone-Away World – Nick Harkaway.
  2. A Dance to the Music of Time, 3rd movement – Anthony Powell. On audio.
  3. Every Dead Thing – John Connolly. My first foray into the Charlie Parker novels, and I liked it but it didn’t quite live up to expectations.
  4. Die Trying – Lee Child. My second foray into Jack Reacher novels, and I’m firmly hooked on these.
  5. The Water Rat of Wanchai – Ian Hamilton. Which I had to import from Amazon US, which means that these are going to be tiresomely tricky to get hold of. I liked it, Ava Lee is actually a nasty piece of work, accomplished and ruthless.
  6. The Girls – Emma Cline. This one did live up to the hype, perfectly encapsulating that teenage need to be seen, and the blind gratitude that can go along with that.
  7. The Stopped Heart – Julie Myerson. God, it took me weeks to read this. It was the sense of impending tragedy that did it, which must mean the author was successful in building up the suspense. I just didn’t want to know what happened, so I resisted the book. So then that meant that I read it in a really disjointed way, so it never came alive for me. Effectively I read it doing there reading equivalent of sticking my fingers in ears and singing ‘La la la, I can’t hear you’.
  8. Full Dark House – Christopher Fowler (audio). The first in the Bryant & May series, and the last for me. I did like the idea that it started at the end, with one of the now elderly detectives investigating the presumed death of t’other one (I’m afraid I couldn’t remember which was which). Meanwhile, it also replayed their first case together, with the two stories intertwining. But blimey, there were some real pacing issues, at least to my ears. Bloody great long bits that went nowhere at all. Plus there were some really obvious overlooked clues (the door that’s always locked and yet you’ve got a mysterious character prowling around the theatre, oh give me a break).  And Fowler did that thing when, in order to avoid too much repetition of a character’s name, he used a noun instead. So, ‘the chorine’ or ‘the tycoon’. I hate that. Yeah. No.


  1. The Clocks in This House all Tell Different Times – Xan Brooks.
  2. A Dance to the Music of Time, vol 4  – Anthony Powell.
  3. Heliopolis – James Scudamore.
  4. Autumn, All the Cats Return – Philippe Georget.
  5. Boy A – Jonathan Trigell.
  6. Crisis – Frank Gardner. I was on holiday and ran out of books and had to read the boyfriend’s.
  7. Betrayal – Will Jordan. As above.
  8. The Power – Naomi Alderman (audio).
  9. Tripwire – Lee Child.
  10. The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett.
  11. Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? – Paul Cornell.


  1. Freya – Anthony Quinn.
  2. A Way through the Woods – Nigel Balchin.
  3. Maplecroft – Cherie Priest.
  4. Darkness Falls from the Air – Nigel Balchin.
  5. Rather Be the Devil – Ian Rankin. I’m enjoying Malcolm Fox’s gradual falls from grace the more time he spends with Rebus. Also, oddly glad to see Big Ger out of retirement.
  6. Shelter – Sarah Franklin.
  7. The Widow’s Confession – Sophia Tobin (audio).
  8. The Crimes of Winter – Philippe Georget.
  9. The Land of the Green Man – Caroline Larrington.


  1. The Letter of Marque – Patrick O’Brian.
  2. A Presumption of Death – Jill Paton Walsh (audio). A faux Peter and Harriet book, and tempting thought it is to want their story to continue, Walsh is not Sayers and knows it. This was tethered to previous characters, notably from Busman’s Honeymoon but it was still only a faint echo of the real thing.
  3. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women – Siri Hustvedt. I’ve read a couple of her novels but hadn’t realised she was also a lecturer in psychiatry. The introduction to the book is intimidating enough, so I’m thinking I’ll be dipping in and out of this one.
  4. The Thirteen Gun Salute – Patrick O’Brian.
  5. The Nutmeg of Consolation – Patrick O’Brian.
  6. The Children of Cherry Tree Farm – Enid Blyton.
  7. The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief – Lisa Tuttle.
  8. Clarissa Oakes – Patrick O’Brian.
  9. The Commodore – Patrick O’Brian.
  10. Seven Days of Us – Francesca Hornak.
  11. The Hundred Days – Patrick O’Brian.
  12. The Gunslinger – Steven King. Meh. First vol in the 7-book Dark Tower series, which I was pretty excited about. But, I had to force myself through this like I was doing homework. So nope.
  13. The Tidal Zone – Sarah Moss.


  1. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith. Well, I watched the first episode on TV and thought re-reading it would be quicker. But I may watch the rest as well, if I remember.
  2. The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith. Inevitable, after the above.
  3. Uprooted – Naomi Novak.
  4. Love and be Wise – Josephine Tey. How came an unread Tey to be hiding on the bookshelves?
  5. Sylvester – Georgette Heyer (audio). Which I liked much better this time around although somewhat disconcerted at first when I realised the narrator was Adam from The Archers.
  6. Why We Die – Mick Herron (audio). The penultimate Zoe Boehm story and I like her very much.
  7. The Long and the Short of It – Jodi Taylor (audio). Hurrah, the St Mary’s short stories all collected in one volume.
  8. The Disciples of Las Vegas – Ian Hamilton. The second in the Ava Lee series, and really, she’s getting tougher. Not sure I like Ava, but she is ruthlessly effective at getting information out of people. I didn’t really think she’d start cutting off fingers…
  9. The Visitor – Lee Child. My birthday read, on the train, over brunch, over a sneaky mid afternoon glass of champagne.
  10. Echo Burning – Lee Child.  Because one dose of Jack Reacher isn’t enough… Not my favourite but still unputdownable.
  11. Whisky from Small Glasses – Denzil Meyrick. The first DCI Daley book, and probably the last for me. I found it perfectly competent but there’s nothing new here.
  12. The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman – Mindy Mejia. A somewhat desperate airport buy that turned out to be a surprisingly good read. I’ve got more of a soft spot for the buried secrets of small American towns than small Scottish ones, it seems.
  13. Smoke and Whispers – Mick Herron. The last Zoe Boehm novel and it’s not a spoiler to say that I don’t know if she’s dead or not. The book starts with a body in the Tyne that is near enough in appearance and wearing Zoe’s clothes, with Zoe’s belongings. But, Zoe’s old friend Sarah starts digging… I’m mid way through and I can’t call it.
  14. The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K Leguin – Ursula K LeGuin.
  15. Tales from Earthsea – Ursula LeGuin.
  16. The White Silence – Jodi Taylor (audio). Oh, sigh. I really wanted to like this and it started off as promising. But. It was a mess. I get that Elizabeth Cage is on a journey of self-discovery, but did she have to be such a pathetic character to start with? And then there was a whole chunk of dream sequence following a bang on the head. Twists within twists, fine but the ole’ Dallas approach? Sigh again.


  1. The Party – Elizabeth Day (audio). Oh I do love an unreliable narrator, and this novel had one, plus his wife whose own story acted as a bit of a corrective.
  2. Without Fail – Lee Child.
  3. Swing Time – Zadie Smith.
  4. House of Birds – Morgan McCarthy.
  5. Electric Dreams – Philip K Dick.
  6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K Dick. Well, with a new Bladerunner movie coming out, what was I supposed to do?
  7. Sirens – Joseph Knox (audio).
  8. Crazy, Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan. Birthday present from Marcy, nice, fun read for a wet Sunday afternoon.
  9. The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson. Borrowed it from a colleague at work and while it’s been a bit slow going, now I have to read the rest of the trilogy.
  10. Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson. Which I romped through and am now waiting for my colleague to catch up, and for vol 3 to come out.


  1. The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell. Huge, gothic sigh. My pet hate in historical novels is when the characters seems like modern day people dropped in to a rickety historical setting. Before anyone writes a novel in an historical setting, they should read Hilary Mantel. Then, most of them should give up. This could have been creepy enough except that both the narrative and the meta-narrative felt as flat as the boards on which the companions were painted. Great production values for the hb though, it’s a beautiful looking book.
  2. The Vanishers – Heidi Julavits.
  3. Bridge of Birds – Barry Hughart. Oh, how many times have I read this? I gave my copy to a charity shop years ago, and had to buy a second hand edition as a replacement. I almost expected to see my own name in the front of it. A satisfying Chinese fairy tale.
  4. Oathbringer – Brandon Sanderson. So that wrapped up that trilogy, not exactly neatly. Felt like one took a long time to get going, and also that a load of minor characters introduced in the first couple of volumes then also had to be shoehorned into the grand finale. Still, all jolly entertaining stuff.
  5. Winter Warriors – David Gemell. Unaccountably, this was my first Gemell and lent to me by a colleague (who also introduced me to Sanderson). I had a timely return train trip to Cardiff, which allowed me the perfect amount of reading time. Liked this, it is just me who appreciates it when not every one of the plucky band of unlikely heroes survives?
  6. Sister – Rosamund Lupton (audio). A nicely done thriller, with Beatrice called home from the US because her younger sister, Tess, is missing. Tess is subsequently found to have committed suicide – or was it murder? Well, of course it was, but as the police don’t think so it falls to Beatrice to investigate. There are plenty of red herrings, Beatrice is a potentially unreliable narrator and a good twist at the end. I did get a bit fed up of their amazing sisterly bond, but maybe that’s realistic.
  7. How to Find Love in a Bookshop – Veronica Henry (audio). Started off promisingly, degenerated to a very weak story. Charming naif inherits bookshop from unworldly father, mean local property developer wants the premises and bribes his handsome-but-weak stooge to somehow seduce her into selling. That sub-plot never gets going but is held in the wings until needed. Meanwhile, various local inhabitants find love via some vague connection with the bookshop. Eyeroll,
  8. The Tollgate – Georgette Heyer (audio). Ages since I read this one and it’s not her strongest but setting that aside, it does have some great characters and pleasingly cold blooded solution to the problem of the dodgy ones.
  9. The Collected Memoirs – Julian MacLaren-Ross. Who was the model for X Trapnel and apparently did indeed always carry a cane. Great, engaging stuff, about his unconventional boyhood, early years trying to write, time in the army and life in Soho. 40s and 50s London always sounds glamorously seedy, suspect it was just plain seedy. Some of the army stuff reminds me of both Greene and Powell, possibly unsurprising since he was definitely a fan of Greene.
  10. Flaneuse – Lauren Elkin.


  1. Women & Power – Mary Beard. Well, obviously. And yes, the ways that women are silenced and have been date back to the Romans and beyond absolutely stacks up for me. Hard for it not to when simply by being a woman you get to live the experience.
  2. Different Class – Joanne Harris. I had no idea she wrote ‘literary psychological thrillers’ but there you go. I found that the character of Straitley undercut the thriller bit somewhat, but I’m always disturbed by characters who like killing animals and particularly so when you get their narration. The twist was a bit meh but this was fine.
  3. The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper.
  4. House of Cards – Michael Hobbs.
  5. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci – Diane Wynne Jones.
  6. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci vol 2 – Diane Wynne Jones.
  7. The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett.