Monday, 1 January 2018

Pick of the Year - 2017

I hope you've enjoyed the last few weeks, whether you've been celebrating or not. I found 2017 a hard year for lots of reasons. It has been a struggle for me to read this year, which in turn makes everything harder. One area of my reading that has flourished is audio reading. I've really enjoyed listening to audio books while commuting, taking a lunchtime walk or while carrying out housework. This is something I mean to continue in 2018.

Being a stupidly optimistic person I always like to make New Year resolutions :) 2018 is a year when I want to focus on three areas - my physical health, mental health and financial health, so aside from eating more healthily, losing weight and sleeping more I also need to prioritise some reading time for myself. That's the aim and I really need to achieve it. Being a list-maker, I have lists and lists of books I need to read, such as review copies that kind people have provided me with, books I have bought or received as gifts and some freebies that I'd really like to read, so I have plenty to choose from for my upcoming reads. I hope to mix up my reading between those lists and at least make a dent in them.

The flipside of having had such a poor reading year in terms of numbers of books read means that I haven't had to narrow down my picks of the year much! Luckily, although I haven't read much, the books I've read have been corkers! Let's jump right in, shall we!

Book cover: Conceit & Concealment by Abigail ReynoldsWe'll start off with one of my absolute favourite Austenesque writers, Abigail Reynolds. This year, Abigail brought us a Pride & Prejudice what if that has the change to canon take place well before the story begins; what if Napoleon successfully invaded Britain and Fitzwilliam Darcy, a man who finds disguise of every sort to be his abhorrence, has to keep some secrets. In Conceit & Concealment, we explored this avenue. I loved this book. It was a five star read for me and you can see why if you read my review.

Book cover: I Could Write a Book by Karen M CoxNow let's have a change of Austen book and era with Karen M Cox's 1970s-set Emma-inspired novel, I Could Write a Book. I thought the limitations of Emma's life were recreated in a more modern setting really well. You can see what I thought of the book here, in my five star review.

Book Cover: When We Are Married by Caitlin WilliamsLet's go back to P&P and Regency times with Caitlin Williams' When We Are Married. Swoony Darcy alert - he is just adorable and lovely! The twist here is that Darcy is still at Hunsford Parsonage when Elizabeth gets back after reading his letter, which means that she has a chance to apologise to him, and he becomes acquainted with her London relatives, raising the hopes of another woman. This was another five star read for me; I definitely need to read Caitlin's other books this year, and I have them both, so the only thing needed is for me to make the time.

Audio Book Cover: The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
We'll take a look at a non-Austenesque read now; I listened to an old favourite of mine. I'd read Georgette Heyer's The Reluctant Widow many times, but never heard the audio. It's a Regency mystery / adventure with some romance, and a heroine who is more a reluctant bride than anything, but within a few hours of marrying, Elinor is a widow, and pitched into the midst of a mystery. The audio narration of this is really excellent - although I loved the story when reading it, the audio was read so well that it enhances the reading enjoyment. Another five star read.

Book Cover: The Darcy Monologues, by various authors, edited by Christina BoydMy last pick of the year is an anthology - The Darcy Monologues, with short stories contributed by: Susan Adriani; Sara Angelini; J. Marie Croft; Karen M Cox; Jan Hahn; Jenetta James; Lory Lilian; KaraLynne Mackrory; Beau North; Ruth Phillips Oakland; Natalie Richards; Sophia Rose; Joana Starnes; Melanie Stanford; and Caitlin Williams. The anthology is edited by Christina Boyd. These stories are in varying settings and eras, but all of them are from Mr Darcy's point of view. The stories are all of good quality and some are absolutely outstanding - see my review for further details on each short story. This was a 4½ star read for me.

So those were my favourite reads in the last year. What were yours? Are there books you'd recommend for the rest of us to bump up our To Be Read lists?

Thanks to all of you who've joined me in 2017. I appreciate each page view and comment, and I hope you will be able to join me for my posts in 2018. I'm hoping for a good year for all of us, filled with good health, good luck, good times and good reading. Happy New Year!

37 comments:

  1. Certainly concur with your top 3 choices, Cheri. I have Darcy Monologues but haven't read it yet. On my list for 2018!

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    1. I am confident you will enjoy The Darcy Monologues when you read it :)

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  2. Carole in Canada2 January 2018 at 03:46

    Love your picks! I have read and loved three on your list...Darcy Monologues, When We Are Married and I Could Write a Book. I want to read Abigail's book this year and I do have a Georgette Heyer book on my TBR list. I hope to read that this year too! It's been decades since I have read one of hers! Happy New Year Ceri and I'm with you on the lists...I have to make my reading list up for January!

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    1. I love Georgette Heyer, Carole, her books are comfort reads of mine. Enjoy your January reading!

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  3. Holy cats!!!!! #ILoveBestOfListSeason Thank you for supporting JAFF and indie projects as you do! Thrilled THE DARCY MONOLOGUES made your Favorites of 2017 list. THRILLED!! So proud of that DREAMTEAM and the stories. And I am over the moon that you loved Karen M Cox's "I Could Write a Book" and Caitlin Williams' "When We Are Married." I have been so fortunate to work with such talent this year.

    Thank you for the honor, Babblings of a Bookworm! 💗

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    1. You're welcome Christina! These books were outstanding, and I hope you have more of this quality to edit that I can enjoy in 2018!

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    2. I can tell you another big group project is brewing... And I have two edits going now! Super excited for 2018! Thank you for All your encouragement. I am beyond thrilled for the authors.

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    3. Aargh! How can you tease us like that, Christina?

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    4. oooh, you tease, Christina!

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  4. Happy New Year to you Ceri. I know 2017 has been a tough year for you, and I think for lots of other people too, for all sorts of reasons.
    But the New Year offers new beginnings, and like you I aim to look after myself better and read more too.
    I have already read a Georgette Heyer over the holidays and a couple of history books by Lucky Worlsey too.
    I am so thrilled you liked When We Are Married enough to include it on your 'best of' list. Being part of The Darcy Monologues was a really good experience too. There are some wonderful creative, original stories in this anthology. I urge everyone who hasn't already to check it out.
    Congrats to Abigail and Karen Cox too - Conceit and Concealment was terrific, such an exciting read. I will be certain to read I Could Write a Book this month too, as it comes so highly recommended.

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    1. Thanks so much Caitlin! Any praise for When We Are Married is well-deserved; I really enjoyed it. I need to read some Lucy Worsley books - I saw her give a talk earlier this year and really enjoyed it.

      I aim to read both your other books this year. I hope you manage some good reads this year :)

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    2. Anything Caitlin writes is a sure bet! Block it time because you will want to read in long sitting!!!!! XX

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  5. Great choices! (Have Karen's book but not read yet!) I have all Georgette Heyer's books and 're read them regularly.
    I'm seriously impressed that you narrowed it down to 5. I would really struggle to just pick 10.

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    1. MUST. READ. KAREN's EMMA BOOK! It is so fantastic. I can't wait to hear what you think. She made me rethink EMMA. LOVE LOVE LOVE

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    2. I am hoping that this year I'll have read soooo many books that I'll really struggle to narrow it down :)

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  6. Heartily agree with your pick, although I have not read the Karen Cox book yet, it is on my TBR...
    Happy New year and fingers crossed for your new year resolution :)

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    1. I hope you enjoy the Karen M Cox book. I loved the way she made Emma work in a modern context. I hope this year brings you lots of good reading :)

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  7. I'm another audiobook fan, as you may remember Ceri. And now you can combine that with one of your (and mine) favourites of last year. I'm so looking forward to listening to audio version of The Darcy Monologues. The narrator, Harry Frost, sounds amazing from the sample on the Audible website. It's definitely next up on my JAFF playlist.

    I Could Write a Book was a brilliant take on Emma and like you, I thought the translation from 19th century England to 1970s Kentucky worked so well. Conceit and Concealment is on my TBR list and sooner rather than later, I think. I loved the chapters posted at Austen Variations in the spring and there's a certain scene that I thought of every time I walked through a bluebell wood last year!

    Hope your 2018 fulfills all the things you've hoped for.

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    1. Thank you so much, Anji. I particularly want to thank you for putting the idea in my head to try audio books. Listening to audio books was so helpful to me last year, and has transformed my commutes! It is so much better to be listening to a story than flicking channels on the radio!

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    2. Gosh, was it really me who did that? It's very kind of you to say so. Just popped back in to say that if you haven't got The Darcy Monologues on your TBL list for audiobooks, then you simply must get it! Harry Frost is amazing. His Regency Darcy is to die for and I'm now in the middle of Pemberley by Stage. To my British ears, his various US accents sound pretty authentic. I really hope Christina can get him to make time for Dangerous to Know eventually.

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    3. It was certainly you who planted the seed, Anji. I'll add The Darcy Monologues to my TBR list, certainly :)

      I am not as accomplished a listener as you, and I don't manage to listen to JAFF on audio. It's mostly performances and re-reads, but one day I'll get there!

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  8. Ceri - Thanks so much for including "I Could Write a Book" and "The Darcy Monologues" on your 2017 list! I'm so glad you enjoyed these books :) Here's to a blessed and happy 2018!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment Karen, and thank you for the books too!

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  9. Oh, yes, I do hope you get a chance to read more from your list. I'm convinced that being able to read keeps me sane. LOL I'll be right there with you on the eating better and doing what I can for our finances. And oh yes, reading more books that I already have.

    Great list. I loved Karen's book and fun, I listed to The Reluctant Widow last year, too. I've got Caitlin and Abigail's books on my wish list so we shall see if I get to them in 2018. Woohoo to see The Darcy Monologues on your list.

    Happy New Year's, Ceri! :)

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    1. Thank you so much Sophia! I hope lots of good reads cross your path in 2018 :)

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  10. Hi Ceri,

    Great list of books!
    Would like to recommend
    The road to understanding by R.Jeffers.
    The marrying type by L.Chapman.
    The Falmouth Connection (audio) J.Starnes.
    The Courtship of Edward Gardiner (audio) N.Clarkston.

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    1. Thanks for your recommendations, Mary. I added them to my wishlist. I hope you continue to find good reads this year, and that you tell me all about them :)

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  11. Hi Ceri! Great list! I've not read When We are Married or The Reluctant Widow, but they both sound fantastic! I love seeing what you recommend! I'm your 2018 brings you lots of good health, happiness, and reading time! :)

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    1. You too, Meredith! Definitely bump When We are Married and The Reluctant Widow up your reading list if you can!

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  12. I'm so thrilled you included Conceit & Concealment among such great company! Thanks!

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    1. I loved Conceit & Concealment! It richly deserves its place in my best of 2017 list <3

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  13. Wonderful to see The Darcy Monologues among such fine company! Happy New Year, Ceri!

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  14. Thank you for sharing these favourites! I have read some of them, and others are getting higher and higher on my TBR list as they appear on more and more literary/JAFF blogs as favourites - I take it as good recommendation :-)
    I have a question, since you mention listening to Georgette Heyer audio versions. Are you familiar with any of those narrated by Richard Armitage? I was reluctant to purchase them because they are marked as "abridged" which put me off. I would like to know how much they are shortened/what is cut, if you have lisened to any of them. Thanks, and a belated Happy New Year!

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    1. Hi Agnes, I haven't listened to any of the abridged Heyers so far, but I understand that the ones narrated by Richard Armitage are worth a listen, just for his voice! I've only listened to unabridged versions so far. Of those the one I'd recommend most heartily is The Unknown Ajax, which is absolutely outstanding. The version I listened to was narrated by Daniel Philpott.

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