2015 Favorites

2015 was a pretty good reading year for me.  I ended up reading about 80 books… a big improvement on 2014!  Here are my top 10 favorite reads of 2015:

ivanhoe10.  Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
With the exception of some excerpts in school, this was the first book of Scott’s that I’ve read. I plan on reading more from him next year!

August Folly9.  August Folly by Angela Thirkell
I discovered Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire series this year and I love it!  This is the fourth book in the series.

For You Alone8. None But You & For You Alone by Susan Kaye
Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and I enjoyed reading some other books based on it this year.  These two books in the Frederick Wentworth, Captain series retell Persuasion from Captain Wentworth’s point of view.

miss buncle married7.  Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson
This is the second book in the Miss Buncle series and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first book!

anatomy of evil6.  Anatomy Of Evil by Will Thomas
This is the seventh book in the Barker & Llewelyn series (two private detectives in 19th century London).  In this book they tackle the Jack the Ripper case.

The Demon In The House5. The Demon In The House by Angela Thirkell
This third book in the Barsetshire series is a collection of short stories that focus on Tony Morland.

Miklos Banffy4.  The Transylvanian Trilogy by Miklós Bánffy 
They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting and They Were Divided follows two cousins, Balint Abady and Laszlo Gyeroffy through the historical events of the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Young Clementina3.  The Young Clementina by D.E. Stevenson
This is one of the last books I finished this year but it easily became one of my favorites!

Archie In The Crosshairs2. Archie In The Crosshairs by Robert Goldsborough
Rex Stout is my favorite mystery author but Robert Goldsborough has done an excellent job of continuing the Nero Wolfe series.

The Broken Road1. The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor
The long-awaited and much-anticipated final book in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s trilogy.  I really looked forward to getting this one but then found I couldn’t read it right away.  I went back and re-read A Time Of Gifts and Between The Woods And The Water and then I was ready to pick up this one.  It was certainly worth the wait!

What were your favorite books in 2015?

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August Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading:

the matchmakerThe Matchmaker by Stella Gibbons

the red boxThe Red Box by Rex Stout (Re-read)

Ramage & The DrumbeatRamage And The Drumbeat by Dudley Pope

Books Finished In August:

high risingHigh Rising by Angela Thirkell

they were dividedThey Were Divided by Miklos Banffy

the company manThe Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett

ramageRamage by Dudley Pope

101Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

July Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading:

they were found wantingThey Were Found Wanting by Miklos Banffy

the company manThe Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett

ramageRamage by Dudley Pope

101Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Books Finished In July:

dream of perpetual motionThe Dream Of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer

equations of lifeEquations Of Life by Simon Morden

little dorritLittle Dorrit by Charles Dickens

cathedralCathedral by Raymond Carver

84 charing cross road84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

the silent gondoliersThe Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman

A Time Of Gifts

“I knew it was my last night in Holland and I was astonished how quickly I had crossed it. My heels might have been winged. I was astonished, too, at the impressive, clear beauty of the country and its variety, the amazing light and the sway of its healing and collusive charm. No wonder it had produced so many painters!” (page 29)

I was browsing around Amazon one day a few years ago and I came across a book called A Time Of Gifts. It sounded interesting and it had pretty good reviews so I decided to give it a try.  I am really glad I did because Patrick Leigh Fermor quickly became my favorite author!

a time of gifts

“The scene was beginning to change. My path followed a frozen woodland stream into a region where rushes and waterweed and marsh vegetation and brambles and shrubs were as densely entangled as a primeval forest. Opening on expanses of feathered ice, it was like a mangrove swamp in the Arctic circle. Encased in ice and snow, every twig sparkled. Frost had turned the rushes into palisades of brittle rods and the thickets were loaded with icicles and frozen rainbow-shooting drops.” (page 128)

In 1933, Patrick Leigh Fermor left London and headed to the Hook of Holland. From there, his goal was to travel to Constantinople… on foot.  A Time Of Gifts covers the first part of his journey and as soon as I started reading it I knew I was going to love it.  The way he describes his experiences – from the people he meets and the places he travels through – is wonderful and he is never short on details. It’s not unusual for several pages to be used to describe an architectural style or the transformation of a certain region’s clothing over the years. “We shall never get to Constantinople like this. I know I ought to be moving on; so does the reader. But I can’t – not for a page or two.” (page 238)

I think my favorite part about Fermor’s writing style is his ability to bring history to life. His knowledge of the history of most of the areas he travels through is outstanding and I find myself jotting down notes about people and places I would like to know more about. “It was an amazing vision. Few stretches of Central Europe have been the theatre for so much history.  Beyond which watershed lay the pass where Hannibal’s elephants had slithered downhill? Only a few miles away, the frontier of the Roman Empire had begun. Deep in those mythical forests that the river reflected for many days’ march, the German tribes, Rome’s Nemesis, had waited for their hour to strike…” (page 80)

About The Book: In 1933 at the age of eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor set off from the heart of London on an epic journey – to walk to Constantinople. It was to be a momentous experience, and one that would change the course of his life.
A Time Of Gifts is the rich and sparkling account of his adventures as far as Hungary, after which Between The Woods And The Water continues the story to the Iron Gates that divide the Carpathian and Balkan mountains. Acclaimed for its sweep, intelligence and observation, the moment in time that it captures is remarkable: he heads through the Lowlands to Mitteleuropa, the Teutonic and Slav heartlands, the Gothic north, the cockpit of the Reformation and the Thirty Years War and the baroque remains of the Holy Roman Empire; up the Rhine, just after Hitler came to power, and down the Danube into the old Balkan and sub-Byzantine realms.
With a ‘lifeline’ allowance of a pound a week, he planned to live ‘like a tramp, a pilgrim, or a wandering scholar’, sleeping in work-houses, monasteries and barns. But a chance introduction in Bavaria led to a counterpointing of this rough existence with leisurely sojourns in castles: one night he would be kept awake by cattle, the next by heavily-embroidered coronets on the linen of a rococo four-poster.
At once a memoir of coming-of-age, an account of a journey, and a dazzling exposition of the English language, it is also a portrait of a continent already showing signs of the holocaust to come.

Just One More Thing: “There is nothing more absorbing than maps of tribal wanderings. How vaguely and slowly nations float about! Lonely as clouds, overlapping and changing places, they waltz and reverse around each other at a pace so slow as to be almost stationary or work their expanding way across the map as imperceptibly as damp or mildew. What a relief it is when some outside event, with an actual date attached to it, jerks the whole sluggishly creeping osmotic complex into action!” (pages 159-160)

This Edition: Paperback published by John Murray (2004)

Other Books In This Series: Between The Woods And The Water, The Broken Road

You Might Also Like: They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy

June Reading Wrap-Up

Books I’m Currently Reading:

the silent gondoliersThe Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman

cathedralCathedral by Raymond Carver

101Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

little dorritLittle Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Books Finished In June:

book of lost fragrancesThe Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

they were countedThey Were Counted by Miklos Banffy

mrs. dallowayMrs. Dalloway by Virgina Woolf

when calls the heartWhen Calls The Heart by Janette Oke (Reread)

shopaholic ties the knotShopaholic Ties The Knot by Sophie Kinsella (Reread)

mandie and the trunk's secretMandie And The Trunk’s Secret by Lois Gladys Leppard (Reread)

the rubber bandThe Rubber Band by Rex Stout (Reread)

greenGreen by Ted Dekker

race to the poleRace To The Pole by Sir Ranulph Fiennes

What books have you been reading this month? If you’ve read any of these before I’d love to know what you thought of them!
Happy Reading!