Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Mole's pick of 2015

It always surprises me to look back over a year and see what I have read. The biggest surprise is to find books that you really did read this year, not two or three years ago and books that you enjoyed but have not thought about since.

2015 for me brought about some discoveries of new authors and new books by old favourites. Once again I cannot compare and say what order these all come in because how can you compare crime with steampunk? BUT... in Oscar tradition there is one that sticks out above all the rest - and it will come last.

On the subject of crime, once again Leigh Russell figures amongst my picks of the year with books in each of the Geraldine Steel and Ian Patterson series. Steel goes from strength to strength with Killer Plan bridging the gap between thrillers of the first three in the series and the whodunnits of the later books, while Patterson, in Blood Axe, becomes a more rounded character and one I grow to care about more.

Denzil Meyrick found his way onto my reading list this year and having read and enjoyed The Last Witness I went back and read the first two starting with Whisky from Small Glasses, the first in the series which gives a far more complete introduction to all the characters involved. I am sort of hooked on these books now and look forward to what 2016 may bring.

Regular readers to this blog will know that I am partial to short stories and 2015 was a good year for them. Of course the Unthology anthologys continue apace and are never dull or repetitious. You might think that choosing short stories would be simple but these guys manage to put them together thematically to make each story part of a bigger picture and give greater enjoyment. A must and the next collection is sitting on my TBR pile already.

Another short story find of 2015 was Refrigerator Cake by Dickson Telfer, his second collection ad every bit as good.

One find  this year was Last Bus to Coffeeville by J Paul Henderson, a harrowing account of alzheimers disease, although it is eased with lighter moments and eccentric characters. It sounds heavy going but is surprisingly light and I am so glad that I read this one.

Before I lighten the mood - and it could do with a bit of lightening - I will mention Intercept by Gordon Corera. I haven't read a lot non-fiction in 2015 but this was a must for me having seen him speak about it at Edinburgh International Book Festival. It told me nothing about the technicalities of cyber hacking that I didn't know but it explained a great deal of history about it that came as a huge surprise. Given our growing dependence on IT in today's world this, perhaps, should become compulsory reading and could lead to people taking greater care.

We can't get the mood much lighter than nominating Jane Hissey's Old Bear's Bedtime Stories for inclusion in the pick. I used to read Old Bear and his friends to our youngest and this year a new collection has been released that contains some old stories and many new ones. A book well worth keeping in your collection "in case".

The next find was The Shield Of Kuromori by Jason Rohan - a fantasy adventure that drags the reader into impossible fantasy and holds them hostage until the last page.

The last two books were from small independent publishers who we met in Nottingham. The first of these two was Greaveburn by Craig Hallam. I haven't read a lot of steampunk in recent years but this was one of the best I have ever read.

And now... the pièce de résistance... Oy Yew by Ana Salote. This is one of the most memorable books I have read and I can't tell you why but it left me wanting to see it succeed above everything I have read in a long time. If you get chance, pick up a copy and find out what I mean.

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