Welcome to my blog!

By | February 16, 2013

This is rather like that feeling you get when you open up a brand new posh notebook and don’t want to spoil it with crossings out and inkblots. I’m so ridiculously proud at having managed to get the blog up and working, I’d like people to read it and think “ooh – how interesting”!  So what shall I start with – what one activity means more to me than anything else? It has to be reading really, doesn’t it?!

For those of you who don’t already know me, you should know that I’ll read just about anything, so long as it complies with my idea of “well written”.  I can enjoy a literary prize winner or a good thriller as much as the latest free chick lit book for Kindle. (Ah yes, I must mention the Kindle – while I’ll never abandon reading real books, with pages and covers and a nice smell, I do find I’m using it more and more. At my age, I love being able to alter the print size and spacing, and it’s so much easier to put in my suitcase than the small library that used to travel with me.)

Let me share my top ten of 2012 (all links are to Goodreads reviews).

One writer was lucky enough to get two entries – the wonderful Katherine Webb.  Having loved her first book, The Legacy, she showed herself to be a writer at the top of her form with both The Unseen and A Half Forgotten Song. The Unseen had the most wonderfully drawn characters, a real shock in the last 100 pages and a modern story that worked really well as a counterpoint to the earlier one (how few authors achieve that difficult balance). As for A Half Forgotten Song, it was a mesmerising story of Mitzy’s obsessional love for artist Charles Aubrey and the extremes it drives her to.  Again, the modern story was equally strong, and the narrative moved backwards and forwards in time quite seamlessly with none of that wrenching away that sometimes happens in dual time stories, with the threads wonderfully tied and drawn together. There were vivid descriptions of childhood Dorset and exotic and threatening Morocco, and the whole story was an emotional rollercoaster, and it has a great blackness about it that totally drags you in. 


In a similar vein really, my third pick is The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.  Again, I’ve enjoyed all her earlier books – if you haven’t already, do try The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours – but this one moved her writing into a different league for me.  The whole book is so cleverly constructed, with endless twists and turns, and I found it absolutely un-putdownable. Again, Kate is an author at the very top of her form, weaving modern and historical threads so deftly.


Something different next, but again an author at the pinnacle of her powers –  Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman. I came late to Rowan’s books, but I’m so thrilled I have a whole back catalogue to catch up on.


I used to love the books of Stephen King – until this one, I’d say Gerald’s Game was my favourite – but I thought he lost his way a little around the time of DreamcatcherUnder the Dome was a return to form for me, but the book in my top ten – and which absolutely blew me away – was 11/22/63, such an original idea and so well executed.

You know the way you sometimes pick up a book having read the description and think “I’ll give it 50 pages”? Requiem by Frances Itani was one of those books.  But I enjoyed Deafening and Remembering the Bones, so I gave it a try. I loved it, and it moved me to tears. 

Another book I approached with some trepidation was The Absolutist by John Boyne. I’m afraid people might miss this book – it’s classified as Gay and Lesbian on some websites, which could attract a limited audience, but it’s so much more than that.  The structure of it is superb, alternating between the slow reveal of the First World War experiences of Tristan Sadler and Will Bancroft, and Tristan’s post war visit to Norwich to see Will’s sister. Beautifully written, the wartime scenes are every bit as real and harrowing as those in Birdsong, and the story is absolutely engrossing. This is a wonderful story of friendship and love and what true courage and bravery means. And the closing episode is really quite perfect.


Then there was The Light Between Oceansby ML Stedman.  I absolutely adored this book – not over sentimental, but it really put my emotions through the wringer, with wonderful descriptions of the harsh environment.

A new writer next – and I’ve already read and absolutely loved her new one, Closure – but the book on my 2012 top ten is The Charter by Gillian Hamer.  What first attracted me was the setting – Moelfre is one of my favourite places on Anglesey (I was brought up near Bangor), and my father has always told me stories about the sinking of the Royal Charter. But this book really has a bit of everything – really vivid and well-drawn characters, a strong sense of place, good dialogue, a rattling good story, a murder mystery, a touch of the supernatural, a treasure hunt, a thriller and adventure story, and well researched history backing it all up.


And my final book is In The Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, a fictionalised memoir of the author’s early life under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.  Quite mind blowing, and lyrically and beautifully told.

So here’s the final top ten, in no particular order:
11/22/63 – Stephen King
The Unseen – Katherine Webb
Requiem – Frances Itani
The Absolutist – John Boyne
The Light Between Oceans – ML Steadman
The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton
Dearest Rose – Rowan Coleman
The Charter – Gillian Hamer
In the Shadow of the Banyan – Vaddey Ratner
A Half Forgotten Song – Katherine Webb 
Whenever you name a top ten, there are so many that are a whisker away from the final cut.  So honourable mentions (and links to Goodreads reviews) for Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell The Wolves I’m Home, Catching the Tide by Judith Lennox, The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell, Time’s Echo by Pamela Hartshorne (watch this author), The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman, A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson, and The Glass Guardian by Linda Gillard.

So that’s set the scene for the books I love.  I’ll do an early 2013 catch-up later, but I’m looking forward to reviewing future books as I read them.

16 thoughts on “Welcome to my blog!

  1. Dizzy C

    Hello Anne,

    Lovely blog. I look forward to following you here as well as on twitter.

    carol
    Dizzyc

  2. Jane Hanbury

    Welcome to the world of blogging 🙂 I am a fan of Kate Morton too having read The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours. I have The House of Riverton on my TBR. Good luck with the blog and wishing you much enjoyment.
    Jane
    http://booketta.blogspot.com/
    PS I'm currently on a bit of a blogging break.

  3. Anne Williams

    Thanks Jane and Marie! Hope to get my favourite bloggers list on there soon, and I'll make sure I include you both…

  4. Lovely Treez

    Waving at you across the blogosphere and looking forward to seeing all your great reviews in one place. Bon Voyage! Tx

  5. Anne Williams

    Thanks Lindsay, and for your support! Been a tough week at work, but plan to get a few more posts and reviews up over the (thankfully) long weekend xx

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