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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My Favourite Reads in 2015

So for me, 2015 was a bit of a tricky year. Between one thing and another my reading time was much reduced, which was a real shame. In 2015 I read just about half the number of books that I read the year before! However, that's not to say that I didn't manage to read some really excellent books. This is my pick of the year's reads:


Book cover: Northanger Abbey by Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen - This was the first time I'd read this book in over 20 years. On first read I wasn't that taken with it because I didn't really connect with Catherine and I felt Henry was laughing at her rather than with her. However on my re-read I was taken with Catherine's sweet naivety and couldn't blame Mr Tilney for having a bit of fun at her expense. This book is also very funny, and has some wonderful lines. Henry gets most of them. I'd highly recommend this book, it was easily a five star read.

Book cover: Henry Tilney's Diary by Amanda Grange
After my enjoyment in reading Northanger Abbey I also read Amanda Grange's 'Henry Tilney's Diary', part of her series which tells Austen's main novels from the point of view of the hero. So this is Northanger Abbey as it could have seemed from Henry's perspective, with some added back-story regarding his family. I really enjoyed this book, as I felt that the author captured Henry's voice really well and enjoyed the additional views of Henry with his siblings that this book provides. This was another 5 star read for me.

Book cover: The Muse by Jessica Evans
A complete change of scenery now, Jessica Evans' 'The Muse' is a modern update of Pride and Prejudice with a ballet backdrop. This was a fantastic read. Here Darcy is an arrogant choreographer and Lizzy Bennet the corps de ballet dancer who becomes his muse. The structured society of the ballet company was a good replacement for the structured society in the 1800s, and I loved how Darcy's arrogance wasn't reduced one iota, as often happens in modern updates, yet he still remained a character you were rooting for. This book was utterly gripping, and a worthy five star read.

Book cover: Longbourn's Songbird by Beau North
Another modern Austenesque that I rated as a five star read was Beau North's 'Longbourn's Songbird', which is more 'Pride & Prejudice'-inspired rather than an update. This is set in post-WWII USA and explores some interesting themes. I thought this was a very thought-provoking and romantic five star read, and I read it in one sitting.

Book cover: Sanditon by Jane Austen and Another Lady (Marie Dobbs)
Moving back in time again, this year I read a book that I'd had sitting on my bookshelf for at least a couple of years; a continuation of Austen's unfinished 'Sanditon', completed by Marie Dobbs 40 years ago. I had seen a recommendation saying that you couldn't see the join, and to be fair I couldn't, though I understand that the join was blended rather than picked up directly from Austen's words. Although as the story went on I felt it diverged from where Austen would have taken it and became more 'Heyer-esque' than Austenesque, this story was wonderfully entertaining and I'd definitely recommend it. Another five star read.

Book cover: Demelza by Winston Graham
My last pick of the year isn't Austenesque, but it was another five star read for me. 'Demelza', by Winston Graham is the second book in the Poldark series and for me, the story really took off in this book. Demelza is having to transition to her new role in life and learn to gain confidence in herself rather than just her position in society. This book has a real range of emotions, happiness, tragedy, comedy, it's all there, and there is a feeling there will be more drama in the story to come. As an aside, I still haven't got round to watching the Poldark mini-series, which was aired early in 2015 here in the UK!

Have you read any of my favourite reads for this year? I'd love to know what you thought of them!

26 comments:

  1. Some of my favorites, too. Of course I loved "Longbourn's Songbird" and "The Muse" is an old favorite! Love Amanda Grange's books, too! Thanks for sharing your favorites from 2015. Happy reading in 2016! #ILoveBestOfListSeason

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Christina! I hope you have many good reads ahead in 2016 too :)

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  2. Yes! I've read Northanger Abby (love) and The Muse, which I also loved too! But those are the only two I read from your favorites of 2015 list.

    Here's to a happy and healthy New Year!! Cheers!

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    1. Thanks Candy, I wish you the same, happiness and health for 2016 :)

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  3. You could be speaking for me with what you said about Northanger Abbey. I loved the Henry Tilney Diary, too. Longbourn Songbird made my favorites list, too. And Yay, for Demelza. I haven't watched the series, either though I plan to eventually.

    I recently enjoyed Melanie Stanford's Sway which is a Persuasion modern retelling and I liked several others this year, too.

    Happy New Year!

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    1. Northanger Abbey is a wonderful book, isn't it Sophia! I fancy reading Sway, I love a modernised Persuasion story. Happy New Year to you, too!

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  4. It was the same for me Ceri, I read only half the number of books I read the year before! Hopefully I'll get back on track in 2016 :)

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    1. Actually it's worse than I thought - I only read 1/3 of the number of books as the previous year!

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    2. Oh Brenda, that is so sad! I thought my reading year wasn't good, but yours sounds much worse! I wish you better reading in 2016!

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  5. I have not read Amanda Grange's book nor Poldark Delmelza, although I did watch the Poldark series. I don't want to start that series until I finish the Outlander Series. (I am reading book 6 off and on.) Goodreads counted 131 books I read but Amazon has me at over 150 books. I know I don't always copy and paste from Amazon to Goodreads if it is not a highly rated book and sometimes if it is not JAFF.

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    1. Hi Sheila! I count all my books on Goodreads but sometimes I don't put reviews on. I try to, but if I don't do it soon after I read the book then often I'll forget!

      I hope you get to read the Poldark books one day, I've only read two of them but I enjoyed them both.

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  6. Out of the books you chose, I only read Northanger Abbey and The Muse and I loved them both, too! I already loved NA but it's always wonderful to reread it, and Jessica Evans' book was a pleasant surprise. Usually I prefer historical fiction but that was a great contemporary! Happy New Year, Ceri! :)

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    1. I read some wonderful historicals too, Maria, that I rated at 4.5 stars but I put my five star reads as my pick of the year. I didn't realise until you mentioned it that I hadn't rated any historical variations as a five star read in 2015. The Sanditon book was a completion and the Henry Tilney book was an alternate point of view. Happy reading in 2016, Maria!

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    2. I gave just a few 5 stars: The Watsons, Sanditon (I know they're unfinished but dear Jane wrote them! Yeah, I'm biased! :P), Haunting Mr. Darcy and Emma and Elizabeth. The only contemporary that got 5 stars was Holidays with Jane: Christmas Cheer.

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    3. I gave Haunting Mr Darcy 5 stars too, Maria, but I didn't read it in 2015 so it's not in the list here. I really enjoyed Holidays with Jane: Christmas Cheer. I did a longer version of this list that had some of my 4½ star reads on and that was on there. It wasn't quite a 5 for me because although some of the stories (the Emma one particularly) I loved, others weren't quite as good. I've re-read the Emma story quite a few times though, I loved it!

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    4. I loved that story, too! I also loved the one inspired by Sense and Sensibility and the one by Jessica Grey where we meet Jane Austen! :)

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    5. Yes, they were both fantastic, the S&S one made me cry, it was so touching! And the MP story was a favourite too, some wonderful points made about Austen's works in that one. I am not sure when the next Holidays with Jane is out, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled.

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    6. I have yet to read the one set during Halloween. I plan to get to it next month... if I manage to respect my reading schedule! :P Have you read it?

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    7. I started the Halloween one, but I was so pressed for reading time that I didn't continue. I like to read seasonal reads at the seasonal time if I can so I think I'll try and schedule it in for October.

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    8. Hah, that was what I planned to do: reading it in October. But I didn't have enough time! Then it was time for Christmas reads and I didn't even start it! I'm not sure I can wait till next Halloween! :P

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  7. Thank you, Ceri, for choosing The Muse as one of your favorite reads of 2015! I'm so honored to be among some wonderful books and am grateful for you and all of my readers' support! Happy 2016!

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    1. Hi Jessica. I'm not surprised that The Muse made it on to so many favourite reads lists. I read it while I was staying in hospital, just after I broke my hip. I was still in quite a bit of discomfort and if it could transport me away from all of that then that speaks volumes for what an exceptional read it is! Thanks for commenting and all the best for 2016 :)

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  8. Great list, Ceri! Hope you reading groove settles for 2016! I love seeing Henry Tilney's Diary on your list, I think that is my favorite out of the 6 Amanda Grange Diary series! Wishing you a wonderful new year my friend!

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    1. Hi Meredith. One of my biggest hopes for 2016 is more reading time! Fingers crossed it will work out. I hope you have a wonderful 2016 too :)

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  9. I read Northanger Abbey for the first time last winter, and I loved it! I can't believe I waited so long to read it - lots of snarky humor, and the dreamy yet down-to-earth Mr Tilney too. Here's to some great reads in 2016 :)

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    1. Hi Karen. Why did we leave it so long?! I loved Northanger Abbey so much when I read it, it's just such a funny book, and the hero and heroine are both so adorable. I can't see muslin without thinking of Mr Tilney now :)

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