It's that time of year again - when I take a look at the best fiction and non-fiction that I've read in the past six months. You can read about my picks for the first half of 2013 here.
Click on the link for my review:
Diary of an Ordinary Woman by Margaret Forster (A woman records her life in 20th century Britain)
Lady's Maid by Margaret Forster (Elizabeth Barrett Browning's life as told by her maid)
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley (Time-slip novel partially set in 18th century Russia)
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (An update of Jane Eyre set in 1960s Scotland)
A Half-Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb (Dual time mystery/family saga set in 1930s Dorset)
The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre (Diplomatic and political thriller set in Africa)
The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley (How people survive disasters - from plane crashes to terrorist attacks)
The Assassination of the Archduke by Peter King (The romance and assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie)
The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England and The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer (A daily life "guidebook" - covering food, law, travel and everything in between)
Jane Austen's England by Roy and Lesley Adkins (Daily life in Regency England)
Howard's End is on the Landing by Susan Hill (A collection of essays on loving books)
Crossing the Borders of Time by Leslie Maitland (I just finished this on Christmas Day and will try to post a review in the new year. A journalist retraces her mother's doomed romance in Nazi Germany and France)
Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (A Scottish poet and an American doughboy write to each other during WWI. This one had some obvious plot twists and severe tonal difficulties due to the letter-writing conceit the novel is based on).
The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn (An overblown WWI romance with a plot fueled by absurd misunderstandings).
Some of my favorite books of the year were books that haven't even come out yet. I don't know whether to count them on my best of 2013 or best of 2014 list! Either way, these three novels were highlights of my reading year:
A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger (A gritty and unusual setting - Richard II's England - and intriguing real-life characters - Chaucer and Katherine Swynford - made for an unforgettable historical thriller.)
I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveirea (The tortured relationship of Impressionist artists Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt in a brilliantly realized Belle Epoque Paris).
Empress of the Night by Eva Stachiniak (Catherine the Great tells her own story in this follow-up to one of my favorites The Winter Palace).
Thank you to everyone who read and commented on my blog in 2013. In my fourth year of blogging, I finally hit on a good pace of posting (an average of more than one post per week) and really enjoyed mixing in author events, museum visits and book sale hauls.
Best wishes for very happy reading in 2014!