2014 A Year in Books Part 2

Excellent, you’re back! Ready for the second half of my year in books? This post covers July to December.


The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

As with Cuckoo’s Calling, I read the second in the Cormoran Strike series in a couple of sittings. Once again I marvelled at Galbraith’s storytelling; this was a fantastic mystery which kept me guessing till the very end.

The Prince, The Showgirl and Me and My Week with Marilyn by Colin Clark

A book of two very different parts so it deserves two different reviews. The first part is the real-life diary of one of Colin Clark, one of the crew members on the film ‘The Prince and The Showgirl’ with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. This behind-the-scenes look at the star’s eccentric behaviour on set was absolutely gripping. It really felt like you were getting an exclusive look at the well-documented Monroe diva-ish ways.

The second part, which was apparently ‘left out’ of the diaries alleges that Colin Clark spent time intimately with Marilyn Monroe. I’m not saying I don’t believe him, however it seems like this section was conveniently only released once no-one alive could disprove his story. I had to take so many pinches of salt to read this bizarre fan-fiction version of events I now have hypertension.

The Floating Admiral by the Detection Club (Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers et al)

What do you get when 14 popular crime writers all try and write one detective book, writing a chapter each, all with a different outcome in their head? Well, a complete mess of a narrative truth be told. An interesting experimental concept but one heck of a confusing book!

The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation by Harold Schechter

Some Goodreads reviews of this true-crime recount have been quite negative, and honestly, a bit snobby. I however really enjoyed this in-depth look at one of the most high-profile murders of the 1930s. There was perhaps a bit of artistic licence involved, but was it was entertaining none-the-less.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

It took me a while to get into this classic book (it must have been the hangover from the easy-reading pulp that was my last book!) However once I was able to get in to it, I found the story enthralling and the writing absolutely beautiful.


The Husband’s Secret by Lianne Moriarty

This was the first book chosen to read by the ‘Reading Between the Wines’ book club at work. It was completely predictable, the characters were not particularly deep, but it added up to an addictive read-it-on-the-beach book you just couldn’t put down!

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

The book had been on my to-read pile for years! The writing of this fictional tale is gorgeous (yes, fictional. Don’t be taken in by the authentic sounding preface!) The story felt too fairytale-like to be genuine, which ruins it slightly. The movie is worth a watch too.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

I feel like a complete Philistine but I have to be honest and say that I really did not like this book! There were too many characters, all with what seemed to be the same two names! There were too few magical elements to be a passable fantasy book, but too much magic to fit with in the otherwise realistic narrative. I skimmed the last few chapters, and finishing it brought a huge relief!


Letters Home: Correspondence 1950 and 1963 edited by Aurelia Schober Plath

My favourite read of 2014. For those of you who like to watch the world burn and are reading my posts out of chronological order, find my review on this book here

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

After not really liking ‘To The Lighthouse’ I decided to give Woolf’s style of writing another chance and read this while I was on holiday. Despite its short length it took me a while to read. The writing skips frequently between the thoughts of each of the characters with no warning, so it’s not a story to read with half your mind wondering which terminal your plane is boarding from.

Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie

At the next book club meeting, everyone agreed we should read an Agatha Christie, and I was asked to pick it as the resident Christie addict. I apparently couldn’t pick one I’d already read so I chose this one at random. As it was my choice there was a lot of pressure for me to enjoy it! Despite the fact I needed to scribble a family tree on a receipt while reading it to keep track of the names, I did actually end up enjoying this typical Christie tale.

The Big 4 by Agatha Christie

Oh dear. Ms Christie does so try to write serious spy novels, but they always end up being like a bad parody. This was no exception, and not even Poirot could save this awful novel. Poor Aggie was so low on inspiration she could only move the plot forward by having a main character hear some oh-so-vague death-bed last words - several times! I am definitely sticking to the whodunnits in future.

Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald

Despite the Blur song of the same title playing in my head, I re-read this with much more appreciation than the first time. As with his other novels, Fitzgerald sticks to the advice of writing about what you know; his main character is a genius struggling with the ennui of endless parties and a mentally-unstable wife.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Note to self; read the title a bit more carefully before hastily buying with Amazon one-click. A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, not by Zelda Fitzgerald… Still, I enjoyed this fictional account of her and Scott’s marriage all the same, and the novel she actually did write, Save Me The Waltz, is high on 2015’s reading list.


Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

It caused much scandal and hilarity at work when they saw this book on my desk (hey, that would make a good website name…). If it didn’t have so many colourful terms for one’s anatomy said in a very questionable dialect I’m sure this book wouldn’t be as popular as it is.

Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James

Not to speak ill of the recently deceased, but as an Austen fan I really didn’t enjoy this book which was, at the end of the day, a poor attempt at fan fiction. The characters you know and love from P&P are all there, but they just seemed listless and one-dimensional. I didn’t even care enough to guess who did it, and I still saw it coming a mile off…

Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth

This book came recommended to me by a writer as one of the great books of the trade, and I in turn can’t praise it highly enough. Forsyth reveals all the tools used by writers, from Shakespeare to Lennon, that makes their work so appealing. They seemed so obvious once pointed out, but I can’t remember a single one now… Also be sure to check out Forsyth’s blog for more word play.

Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie

No matter how many books by Dame Aggie I read, I still never guess the murderer! This is the second best of her stories that feature a murder on a train. It was apparently written in a hurry when she was low on money, but you’d never tell.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Regular readers (hi mum!) will recall my review of this, but if you don’t, take a quick look here. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMorier

This is far from the brilliance of her later book, Rebecca, which shows just how far she came as a writer in the two short years between them. This story reads like a Gothic soap opera, but in a good way if you can imagine such a thing.


Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery by Richard Hollingham

Another rare sojourn into non-fiction for me. This whistle-stop tour through the history of medical technology was so enthralling I read it in a weekend, despite my increasing hypochondria. It makes you realise just how recent all our medical advances really are!

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

The second book in the Rivers of London series. I’m so glad this lived up to the high expectations the first one set. Now even though there are two more books in this series I mustn’t go on an Aaronovitch binge…


Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

Oops! My will power is terrible, especially when it comes to books. Luckily, back-to-back reading of this series doesn’t tire you of Aaronovitch’s writing and I enjoyed the third installment which had the strangest story yet.

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Maybe I spoke too soon about not tiring of this series, as this one didn’t grab me the same way the previous ones had. I’m only hoping that Aaronovitch is leading up to something big in the fifth book. In the same way the penultimate Harry Potter book wasn’t so good on its own but, man! did it lead to some great stuff. Fingers crossed, Ben!

Horns by Joe Hill

Not the most festive of books to read in the run-up to Christmas! Stand by for a full review of this later on in the year.

Started but not finished:

This Side of Paradise by F Scott Fitzgerald

I couldn’t call myself a Fitzgerald fan till I’d read his début novel. Enjoying it so far, though perhaps not as much as his others, and life getting in the way means I haven’t quite finished it yet.

The City and the Stars by Arthur C Clarke

My Dad will be thrilled, he’s been wanting me to read this for years. I love the premise of this story, of one unique individual being born into a world of characters reborn again and again. However my lack of sci-fi fandom is hindering me a little from finishing this.

I just couldn’t finish:

The Alphabet Vs the Goddess by Leonard Shlain

This sounded like an interesting enough idea, which hypothesises that as written language increased, our belief in the idea of the ‘Goddess’ decreased. In the end though I wasn’t sold on the writing and its flimsy sounding evidence.

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

My husband is a big fan of the almost-religion that is the Discworld series and is convinced if I find the right book I will be too. However after now trying five of them, including this City Watch one, it’s safe to say it doesn’t matter how many I try, I’m just not a convert. I just don’t like Terry Pratchett’s style which to me feels like he’s trying far too hard.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I’m thoroughly ashamed of not finishing this one. In this book which includes many different stories, I didn’t even make it past the first one. Before anyone lynches me, I will try and pick it up again this year as I’ve heard so many good things. I mean, it was Richard and Judy’s Book of the Year, it can’t be that bad!

So this was 2014 for me, and as always I’m interested to know what you all think. Did I hate your favourite book? Do you loathe a book that I raved about? Have I piqued your interest enough into reading a book mentioned here? Let me know in the comments.

Here’s to 2015 and lots more reading!

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