Saturday, January 2, 2016

Notable Books of 2015

Notable Books of 2015
This is not intended as a review or critique. By their inclusion in this list they are books that have made strong impressions on me, above and beyond the other 120 books read during the period.

1. Edge of Eternity – Ken Follett. Nearly 1100 pages in this third book of the century trilogy. All the major events, the Berlin Wall, Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crisis, race riots, Kennedy’s shootings, etc. are here. Great book!
2. Auto Biography – Earl Swift. Non fiction, but stranger than fiction. A great tale of an classic automobile, the people who owned it, and the rough cut people that restored it.
3. Gray Mountain – John Grisham. A thriller yes, but more importantly, a scathing look at the mining industry and its impact on one area of Virginia. I am reminded of John Prine’s song – Paradise, and the chorus - and daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County - Down by the Green River where Paradise lay- Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking - Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away! While the song is about Kentucky, the impact of coal mining is the same.
4. The Fifth Heart. - Dan Simmons. A great story involving Sherlock Holmes serves as the platform to inform the reader about a great many things especially including the World Columbian Exposition of 1893.
5. All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr. A book about people during WW11 that will remain in my mind for a long time.
6. Kill Me – Stephen White. A very different kind of thriller, one that poses lots of questions you will continue to ask yourself long after reading. Some of the parts do not stand up to logic very well, but all in all a good intriguing read.
7. Anna From Away – D.R. MacDonald. A totally captivating story taking place in the Cape Breton of today, but with the Cape Breton of the past always present.
8. The Truth According To Us – Annie Barrows (co author of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society). A story of 1938 high society and blue collar. I found it delightful as a society deb uncovers small town West Virginia secrets while working for a New Deal organization called The Federal Writers Project.
9. The Shepherd’s Life – James Rebank. A captivating non fiction look at the current and past lives of real shepherds in the Lake District in England. Real people producing real products and keeping a small bit of England real.
10. Copper Mine -  Keith Ross Leckie. Canadian historical fiction based on the real life events surrounding the trials in 1917 of two Copper Inuit for the murders of two Catholic priests. Intriguing subject matter well worth the read. (note- book published in 2010
11. A Siege of Bitterns – A Pitying of Doves – Steve Burrows. 2 books by the Oshawa author called “birder murder mysteries”. I find myself comparing these books and their hero, Dominic Jejeune, to Commissario Guido Brunetti, the character from the Donna Leon novels, and also to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec by Louise Penny. In the birder murder novels, we learn a great deal about serious birders, ornithology, salt marshes and their ecology, and also some grammar lessons courtesy of Jejeune’s girlfriend, a journalist. Incidentally, the books take place in England. Somewhat frustrating are the various mentions of previous cases without any particulars. I suspect a hook for future novels – I hope!

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