Well, it’s that time again, when everyone puts their list of best books of the year up, so I will too. They all put them up too early though, I wait until the year is actually over, if you’ve noticed.
So that makes my list that much better, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Anyway, in time-honoured tradition, here are all the books I finished last year, in the order I read them:
*You’ll note that they are books I read last year, not books that were necessarily released last year, though of course some were. Where I’ve got round to writing a review, click on the book title to go to the review page.
- The Templar Cross (Templar 2) : Paul Christopher
- Masters of Rome (Vespasian 5) : Robert Fabbri
- Crusade (The Making of England 2) : Stewart Binns
- American Assassin (Mitch Rapp 1) : Vince Flynn
- Good As Dead (Tom Thorne 10) : Mark Billingham
- Blood Tracks (Tess Grey and Po Villere 1) : Matt Hilton
- The Pale Criminal (Bernard Gunther 2) : Philip Kerr
- The Thunder God : Paul Watkins
- Hereward The Immortals (Hereward 5) : James Wilde
- Fire & Steel (King’s Bane 1) : C.R. May
- Kill Shot (Mitch Rapp 2) : Vince Flynn
- The Virgin of The Wind Rose : Glenn Craney
- Savage Continent. Europe in the Aftermath of World War II) : Keith Lowe
- Enemy of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 5) : Douglas Jackson
- Cut and Run (Joe Hunter 4) : Matt Hilton
- A German Requiem (Bernard Gunther 3) : Philip Kerr
- The Templar Throne (Templar 3) : Paul Christopher
- The Double Game : Dan Fesperman
- Brother’s Fury (Bleeding Land Trilogy 2) : Giles Kristian
- Tripwire (Jack Reacher 3) : Lee Child
- Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp 3) : Vince Flynn
- Hannibal. Fields of Blood (Hannibal 2) : Ben Kane
- Knight of The Cross : Steven A. McKay
- Blood and Ashes (Joe Hunter 5) : Matt Hilton
- Anarchy (The Making of England 3) : Stewart Binns
- Scourge of Rome (Gaius Valerius Verrens 6) : Douglas Jackson
- The Templar Conspiracy (Templar 4) : Paul Christopher
- The Maharaja’s General (Jack Lark 2) : Paul Fraser Collard
- Imperial Fire : Robert Lyndon
- Lionheart (The Making of England 4) : Stewart Binns
- The Third Option (Mitch Rapp 4) : Vince Flynn
- Rome’s Lost Son (Vespasian 6) : Robert Fabbri
- The Visitor (Jack Reacher 4) : Lee Child
- The Harrowing : James Aitcheson
- Keane’s Company (Keane 1) : Iain Gale
- The Far Shore (Agent of Rome 3) : Nick Brown
- Separation of Power (Mitch Rapp 5) : Vince Flynn
- Gods of War (King’s Bane 2) : C.R. May
- Executive Power (Mitch Rapp 6) : Vince Flynn
- The Secret Speech (Leo Demidov 2) : Tom Rob Smith
- Nemesis (Harry Hole 4) : Jo Nesbø
- The Count of Monte Christo : Alexandre Dumas
- Dead Men’s Harvest (Joe Hunter 6) : Matt Hilton
- Echo Burning (Jack Reacher 5) : Lee Child
- The Twelfth Department (Captain Alexei Dimitrevich Korolev 3) : William Ryan
- The Wolf and the Raven (The Forest Lord 2) : Steven A. McKay
- Hannibal. Clouds of War (Hannibal 3) : Ben Kane
- Without Fail (Jack Reacher 6) : Lee Child
- The Furies of Rome (Vespasian 7) : Robert Fabbri
- The Templar Legion (Templar 5) : Paul Christopher
- Blood and Blade (The Bernicia Chronicles 3) : Matthew Harffy
- Memorial Day (Mitch Rapp 7) : Vince Flynn
- The Death of Robin Hood (The Outlaw Chronicles 8) : Angus Donald
- Consent to Kill (Mitch Rapp 8) : Vince Flynn
- God of Vengeance (The Rise of Sigurd 1) : Giles Kristian
- Terror Gallicus (Brennus. Conqueror of Rome 1) : C.R. May
- Red Templar (Templar 6) : Paul Christopher
- Dead Letter Drop (Max Flynn 1) : Peter James
- The Devil’s Assassin (Jack Lark 3) : Paul Fraser Collard
- Act of Treason (Mitch Rapp 9) : Vince Flynn
- Persuader (Jack Reacher 7) : Lee Child
- Iron & Rust (Throne of The Caesars 1) : Harry Sidebottom
- Agent 6 (Leo Demidov 3) : Tom Rob Smith
- Protect and Defend (Mitch Rapp 10) : Vince Flynn
Well, looking at that list, you can maybe see that my aim for reading in 2016, was to read as many of the series as I’ve got (the books laid in for, Mitch Rapp for example), or already begun, as possible.
I had intended on not starting any new series in ’16, but didn’t quite manage it. I’m going to continue to read up the series I have started, then get on to the one-offs in 2017. I want to be able to still read series, but read the latest book, as it is released. Not be behind the curve. Also, there are some really quite interesting one-offs out there, and in my collection, that I’d really like to get on to. I’m not against reading series or authors writing them, but I’d like to see an author or publisher take more of a chance on a one-off. It seems a given that any new author is signed if he/she has one book finished and two more sketched out. We need to get away from that, I feel. Get away from the feeling that book one is merely setting the scene for two and three and is stretched out further than it really should have been, the otherwise really just fine Harry Sidebottom’s Iron and Rust springs to mind in that category.
I also have a few Non Fiction books lined up that I’d really like to get on with as well.
My Goodreads aim will again be to read 52 books in the course of the year. I made it up to 64 partially thanks to
- Two doses of Influenza, one after the other
- Some enforced ‘use it or lose it’ holiday home alone while the wife slaved
- Listening to audiobook versions of some of the books I actually have physical versions of (I’ve recently moved from Audible to Storytel. Nothing against Audible as a service, just that Storytel gives me unlimited listening a month, for one flat fee, whereas Audible gives you one credit for your fee, after that you have to buy, or wait for the next month’s credit). I can listen to and from work in the bus, and while walking from the bus to work and back and…well, you get the picture
52 – 64 books read in a year is really about the limit for reading, appreciating, ruminating on and writing an honest appreciation I think. Anyone saying they’re reading more, isn’t really doing any one of those properly. And you can quote me on that.
And speaking of categories…
The Award for the ‘Most Improved’ Series Award
Sharing this award is:
Vince Flynn for The Mitch Rapp Series
The still unexplained ten year gap between three and four (or was it two and three?) apart, this series gets better and better. I noted that he seemed to be aiming to write the perfect thriller, he’s there for the last two I’ve read. The UK publishers clearly want you to think ‘Jack Reacher’ when you see the covers, but these are so much better.
Matthew Harffy for The Bernicia Chronicles
Well, if you read book one and then book three, you’d wonder if they were written by the same person. So either he’s got a ghost-writer, or he’s improved a hundred-fold in the space of three books. Personally, I’m leaning towards the former.
Award for the ‘Best Series Based on the lyrics for Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like The Wolf” Award
Steven A. McKay for Wolf’s Head, The Wolf and the Raven, Wolf’s Bottom, Rise of the Wolf, I’m On The Ground I’m After You and many more.
The Award for ‘Sad To See It End’ Series Award
Angus Donald for The Outlaw Chronicles
I’ve maybe had my doubts about this series a couple of times – too much of it set in France – but…Angus got his revenge in the best possible way with an absolutely magnificent final book. He’s gone on to new writing pastures and I’m still misting over thinking about the final scene in this book. Really, do yourselves a serious favour and read the series (in order) if you haven’t done so yet. Robin Hood lives!
The Award for the Most Consistent Series Award
Robert Fabbri for Vespasian
When I’m blown away by book seven in an on-going series and champing at the bit for the next one, you know the series has something good going for it. The Furies of Rome was nothing short of a masterclass in Historical Fiction, one more authors in that field could well do with reading.
The Award for The Most Surprisingly Good Series Award
C. R. May for King’s Bane. Well, where did this come from?! Somewhere in East Anglia, I think. And the post to Denmark … well, anyway, Cliff (I feel I can call him Cliff now) was kind enough to send me a copy of the first King’s Bane book, and i was seriously blown away with how good it was and how quickly I became completely immersed in the pre-Viking European world he created.
The Award for Biggest Disappointment Award
No! Not in that way…it’s because there are (so far) only two in Giles Kristian’s absolutely magnificent English Civil War trilogy. It’s listed as a trilogy and is set up after book two for a number three, but for one reason and/or another, it’s just a duo as yet. But what a hum-dinger book three is/will (hopefully) be. Maybe we should crowd-fund it? Stranger things have happened. I’m in!
But…here is the book I was most impressed with, made the biggest impression on me in 2016
The Prestigious Solid Gold Speesh Reads Best Book of 2016 Award
The Harrowing : James Aitcheson
From the moment I started it to the moment I finished it, there was never any doubt in my mind that this was going to be the best book I would read all year. I’m still reviewing the video his words created in my mind every so often. I don’t think it will fade. It was a book set in the aftermath of 1066, that felt bang up to date. It’s the best of 2016 and probably many other years as well.
The Death of Robin Hood : Angus Donald
It’ll be a classic for future generations.
The Thunder God : Paul Watkins
Unbelievably good Viking saga. How they should be wrote.
Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith
The final bittersweet book in the Leo Demidov trilogy.
Well, thanks for reading all the way down here, thanks for reading my blog in 2016, I hope you come back in 2017. I also hope the books you read last year, were at least as good as those I read. Have a happy and safe new year – and, good reading!