Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and peaceful 2020!
For my first post of the new year I’m looking back at books I read in 2019 using a Reading Bingo Card
This is my fourth year of playing the Reading Bingo Card. I like it because during the year I don’t look for books to fill in the card – I just read what I want to read and then see whether the books I’ve read will match the squares. I also like it because it is an excellent way of looking back at the books I’ve read and reminding me of how much I enjoyed them.
Here is my completed card for 2019:
A Book With More Than 500 pages.
The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley – 640 pages. The story revolves around Posy Montague and her family home, Admiral House in the Suffolk countryside, a house that had been in her family for generations. The narrative alternates between the different periods of her life from her childhood in the 1940s to the present day in 2006
A Forgotten Classic
The Man on a Donkey by H F M Prescott, published in 1952. A classic of historical fiction, written by Hilda Prescott, a historian, this is the story of ordinary people caught up in great events in the year 1536, when Henry VIII’s kingdom was split apart by rebellion.
A Book That Became a Movie
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. Audrey Hepburn’s sparkling performance in the 1961 film of the same name, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is Truman Capote’s timeless portrait of tragicomic cultural icon Holly Golightly.
A Book Published This Year
Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre was published in April this year. It’s a novel about a family in crisis, about toxic relationships and about the psychology of conspiracy theories.
A Book with a Number in the Title
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. Maia D’Aplièse and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, ‘Atlantis’ – a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva – having been told that their beloved father, the elusive billionaire they call Pa Salt, has died.
A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty
The Shadow Puppet by Georges Simenon is one of the early Maigret books written in 1931 when Simenon was 29. A man is shot dead in his office in the Place des Vosges in Paris and Maigret uncovers a tragedy involving desperate lives, unhappy people, addiction and an all-consuming greed.
A Book With Non-Human Characters
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch – a novel centred around the adventures of Peter Grant, a young officer in the Metropolitan Police, who, following an unexpected encounter with a ghost, is recruited into the small branch of the Met that deals with magic and the supernatural. Featuring gods and goddesses and vampires.
A Funny Book
The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull. An original and funny murder mystery and, whilst not laugh-out-loud funny, I thought it was brilliant. It’s witty and ironic from the start. It makes very entertaining reading and I loved the ending, which took me by surprise and I thought was so clever.
A Book By A Female Author
I have plenty of choice for this and have chosen a book by a new-to-me author, Christi Daugherty and her book, A Beautiful Corpse. It’s a murder mystery set in Savannah, with its historic buildings, parks and ancient oak trees covered in Spanish moss. Harper McLain, a crime reporter with the Savannah Daily News investigates a murder on downtown River Street, a narrow cobblestoned lane between the old wharves and warehouses and the Savannah River.
A Book With A Mystery
The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan, the first in the detective Cormac Reilly series set in Ireland. In Irish, Rúin means something hidden, a mystery, or a secret, but the word also has a long history as a term of endearment. It has a powerful opening in 1993 in Galway when Garda Cormac Reilly, new to the job, finds 15-year-old Maude and her little brother, Jack, who’s only five, alone in an old, decaying Georgian house, whilst their mother Hilaria Blake lies dead of an overdose.
A Book With A One Word Title
Dolly by Susan Hill is a small book – in size and in length and I read it very quickly. It’s a supernatural tale with an uneasy foreboding and melancholic atmosphere, mainly set in a mysterious isolated country house in the Fens.
A Book of Short Stories
Blood on the Tracks edited by Martin Edwards. A collection of fifteen railway themed stories presented in roughly chronological order from 1898 up to the 1950s. The ones I enjoyed the most are by R Austin Freeman, Roy Vickers, Dorothy L Sayers, F Tennyson Jesse and Freeman Crofts Willis
For this square I’ve chosen a book in translation. It’s The Island by Ragnar Jónasson, translated from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate a disappearance. But she finds haunting similarities to an old case – the murder of a young woman ten years ago. A novel full of suspense and foreboding, set against the beautiful and dramatic Icelandic landscape.
A Book Set On A Different Continent
The Good Son by by You-jeong Jeong, a South Korean writer of psychological crime and thriller fiction. When Yu-jin wakes up covered in blood, and finds the body of his mother downstairs, he decides to hide the evidence and pursue the killer himself. It is set in South Korea, mainly in Incheon, a city south of Seoul but the main focus is on Yu-jin’s dysfunctional family and their relationships.
A Book of Non Fiction
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – a wonderful book, fascinating, but harrowing to read in parts, from all the details of Henrietta’s life, how she was treated for cervical cancer in 1951, when she was just 30, to her death nine months later.
The First Book By a Favourite Author
Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell published in two volumes in 1848. It covers the years 1837 to 1842, telling the story of ordinary working people struggling with the rapid social change and terrible working and living conditions.
A Book You Heard About On Line
Many of the books I read these days are books I’ve heard about on line. I’ve chosen Gallows Court by Martin Edwards because I first read about it on his blog Do You Write Under Your Own Name? It is set in 1930s London, a change of direction for Martin Edwards, born out of his fascination with that period in history and his love of Golden Age detective fiction. I loved this intricately plotted murder mystery with plenty of suspense and intrigue
A Best Selling Book
The Lost Man by Jane Harper, her third novel. The story revolves around the death of Cameron Bright. There are three Bright brothers – Nathan the oldest, then Cameron and the youngest brother, Bub. They have a vast cattle ranch in the Queensland outback. Cameron’s body is found lying at the the base of the headstone of a stockman’s grave – a headstone standing alone, a metre high, facing west, towards the desert, in a land of mirages.
A Book Based On A True Story
Katharina: Fortitude by Margaret Skea, historical fiction based on the life of Katharina von Bora from the beginning of her married life with Martin Luther in 1525 to her death in 1552. It is the conclusion to Katharina: Deliverance, which covered the early years of her life from 1505 up to her wedding to Luther. Margaret Skea is a skilful storyteller and seamlessly blends historical fact into her fiction. I was totally immersed in this story, enhanced by the richly descriptive writing, which made it compulsively readable for me.
A Book At The Bottom of Your To Be Read Pile
Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck – a sequel to Cannery Row. I’ve had this book for five years. It’s set in Monterey on the California coast in the 1950s after the Second World War when the cannery had closed down. It has great dialogue, great sense of location, eccentric and funny characters, wit, humour, irony and a touch of farce and surrealism, along with plenty of philosophy. I loved it.
A Book Your Friend Loves
Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell is a book recommended by a friend. It’s Durrell’s account of his time in Cyprus, during the 1950s Enosis movement for freedom of the island from British colonial rule, set mainly in Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus, where he bought a house in the Greek village of Bellapaix.
A Book that Scares You
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver. This is a dark and horrific tale of mystery and imagination laced with terror. It’s a story of disintegrating madness, set in a remote hamlet in the Suffolk Fens, an eerie waterlogged landscape.
A Book That Is More Then Ten Years Old
Operation Pax by Michael Innes first published in 1951, about a petty thief, Alfred Routh, an unpleasant little man, who for much of the time is confused and bewildered by his own thoughts and fears, which plunge him into utter panic. It is pure escapism with an incredibly unbelievable plot and strange eccentric characters that wormed their way into my mind and made it a book I just had to finish.
The Second Book In A Series
An Advancement of Learning by Reginald Hill, the second book in his Dalziel and Pascoe series. Although not up to the standard of his later books the strength of this book is in the writing and the characterisation. It is a character-driven murder mystery, showing the early relationship between Chief Superintendent Dalziel, a rude, boorish character, and Pascoe, the university educated young DS.
A Book With A Blue Cover
Those who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop, is historical fiction in which Themis Koralis/Stravidis tells her grandchildren her life story, beginning from when she was a small child in the 1930s, through the German occupation of Greece during the Second World War, the civil war that followed, then the oppressive rule of the military junta and the abolition of the Greek monarchy, up to the present day.