The Year in Books: The end of the year

December has been a good month for reading - I've liked every book I've read, which I think is unusual for me.

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg was as funny as I was hoping it to be.  I'm attracted to books with unusual titles and this one held promise!  Martha is an elderly woman, living in a rubbish residential home and wants a more exciting day-to-day life.  She and some of her fellow residents form the League of Pensioners and plot little adventures.  They start small, within the residential home, but soon dream of bigger things - after all, who would suspect a group of little old pensioners with walking frames?  In places it is a tad far-fetched, but overall it's a fun book.  It's translated from the Swedish, so I looked up a map of Sweden to see where events were occurring and checked the exchange rate so I knew how much one million kroner is worth (about £82,500).  Once or twice a joke had to be explained as it was either a cultural joke or a play on words that didn't make sense in English.  In a few places, the plot did drag slightly, but overall it was very good indeed.

There was a Q&A with the author at the back of the book, and I loved seeing what books are called in other languages: in Swedish and Icelandic the title means 'coffee and robbery' (very true, these feature prominently within the book!), in Norwegian it's 'crookery and cloudberry liqueur' (I really like this!), but my favourite is the Italian, 'you cannot trust the 80 year olds'.  These sweet little old people are sitting in their home, drinking cloudberry liqueur and knitting and watching old detective films, but secretly they are researching how to commit grand crimes - never judge a book by its cover!

My book for December was The Little Old Lady Who Struck Lucky Again, which is the sequel.  I left a couple of weeks between finishing the first one and starting this one, as I often find that I can get tired of certain characters and I know I'd appreciate it more if I left a bit of a gap.  It was a pleasure to start reading this book and feel at home again with the main characters.  It follows a similar plot to the first one (group of inconspicuous old people plotting criminal escapades) and is a solid feel-good read.  Again, perhaps a tad far-fetched in places, but if you suspend your disbelief ever so slightly, then it's entirely plausible!  I think Martha, the main character and instigator of their plans, would be a great dinner party guest.  The publishers sent me this proof copy to read, as well as a copy with which to run a giveaway, so I'll be doing that in the new year!

Murder of Magpies* is the debut novel by Judith Flanders, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Sometimes I want a dark crime/thriller book, sometimes I want something a tad lighter but still a good mystery, and this book is that.  Samantha Clair is a book editor who has an author, Kit, about the publish a book dishing the dirt on a famous scandal within the fashion world.  However, the police turn up, Kit goes missing and Sam (with the help of a host of secondary characters) has to work out what's happened, who is behind everything, and what to do next.  I'm not entirely sure how accurate some parts of the plot are (breaking into buildings, for one) and a couple of characters annoyed me (Sam's mum) but overall it kept my attention and the plot ended in what, for me, was a satisfactory manner, although reading comments online this has divided opinion with other people not liking it very much at all.  I guess readers will just have to take a chance on whether they like this sort of book!

The Red House by Mark Haddon was excellent.  This is the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, a book I didn't particularly enjoy despite all its hype and everyone else enjoying it.  Skimming through Goodreads, it appears most people are the other way round, with not many people enjoying The Red House.   I think a few people might have been put off by the way it was laid out - every section (maybe only a few paragraphs long) was from another character's point of view (although it was quite clear quite quickly who was who) and there are no speech marks - this didn't bother me, as I thought it all worked quite well but I can see why others may be annoyed by this.  Doctor Richard, his new wife and newly acquired step-daughter invited his estranged sister Angela and her husband and three children to join them on holiday in a remote cottage.  Throughout the book the reader learns more about each character, what they've done and what they want to do.  It's not terribly fast-paced, nor is there really a plot as such (I couldn't say A happens then B which leads to C, more a case of this person realising something, and someone else realises something too).  However, I did enjoy it, there were characters I liked and characters I didn't like, and I would like to know what happened to them after the holiday finished.  

When I returned The Red House to the library I picked up Cashel Byron's Profession by George Bernard Shaw, simply because I had no idea he'd written novels as well as plays.  Cashel Byron is a young man who runs away from his English boarding school, heads to Australia (as you do) and becomes a champion prizefighter (an illegal sport).  He then comes back to England and meetings Lydia, a young lady who has been advised by her recently-deceased father to marry a man who has an actual profession, rather than say an art critic, like he was.  Cashel falls in love with Lydia, but as she doesn't approve of fighting, has to keep his profession a secret.  Perhaps a tad predictable in places, but a great story and a lot of memorable lines.  A quick read, I read most of it when I had to wait over an hour to donate blood!

I've really enjoyed taking part in Laura's The Year in Books, and I look forward to seeing what she has planned for 2015.  I've read some good books, some not so good books.  I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts with others, having a good look at what other people have been reading, and adding plenty more titles to the seemingly endless list of books I'd like to read.

Here are my The Year in Books updates for 2014:


I also completed my Goodreads challenge of reading 60 books this year.  Here's to more reading in 2015!

*Thank you to NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book in return for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are, of course, my own.


  1. Oh these sound good, and it is a positive that you liked all of your December reads. Another well done for completing your reading challenge as well!

    1. Thank you! Aiming for 52 this year, I felt I was sometimes 'cheating' and reading shorter or easier books in order to reach my target, so I've aimed for not so many this time!

  2. Happy New Year lovely lady!!! <3 And Congratulations for the challenge...well done!!!
    I love reading and I really want to buy " The Little Old Lady Who Struck Lucky Again" seems a really nice book!!!

  3. I must try the Red House. I felt exactly the same disappointment at The Curious Incident... so it'll be nice to try something else from Mark Haddon to give him a second chance!

    1. Yes, give him a second chance...will be interesting to hear what you think!

  4. I adore Mark Haddon so I'm definitely going to have to give The Red House a read this year. :) x


Post a Comment

Popular Posts