Saturday, 13 December 2014

Books of the Year 2014

This round up of the year’s books is drawn from books I’ve read and reviewed this year. Not all of them were actually published in 2014: sometimes it takes me a while to get round to things. One thing that’s really noticeable  is that nine out of the eighteen books that really did it for me this year were self-published. New equestrian publisher Forelock also makes an appearance, with the excellent Beside Me by Carolyn Henderson and K M Peyton’s All That Glitters, and therefore do better than most of the established publishers. Usborne, Nosy Crow, Orion and Faber wave the flag for conventional publishing, with Fidra championing reprints.

My book of the year (in a very strong field) is the outstanding novella by Katharina Marcus: Boys Don’t Ride.

Adult reads
KDP £2.99
This is a witty, well drawn romance with thoroughly believable characters and plenty of excellent horse content. If romances are your thing, you will absolutely love this. I did.


Aspen Valley Books £7.57, Kindle £2.40
Another for the romance fan – a rollicking read with a detailed and believable racing background, with a bit of mystery thrown in.

Sadly no longer in print.
This is an account (partly fictionalised) of K M Peyton’s childhood growing up in the London suburbs during World War II. It’s a fascinating account of a girl growing up during wartime, and for whom it is therefore normal to be perpetually cold, to hear air raid sirens on a daily basis, and to experience the petrifying wait for the cut out of the doodlebug

YA
Create Space £3.50, Free to download from Good Reads
This is a novella (or a very long short story). The story of Tull and Liberty, school misfits who share a love of the horse, ended up being my book of the year. I absolutely loved this. There are several writers out there who are (thoroughly undeservedly in my opinion) touted as the next K M Peyton, but Katharina Marcus stands an excellent chance of being just that.



Forelock Books £9.50
The YA field did really well this year, with Carolyn Henderson’s wonderful Beside Me, which was just pipped by Boys Don’t Ride to my book of the year. Carolyn Henderson delivers horsey expertise with a brilliantly realised world which recognises that life goes on beyond the stable door.



Oolichan Press £3.10 - £7.28, Kindle £3.58 - £5.51
There are some characters who get under your skin, and Susan Ketchen’s heroine Sylvia is funny, observant, and absolutely devoid of self pity about her condition, Turner’s Syndrome.

Create Space £9.84, Kindle £2.97
Natalie Kenner Reinert’s heroine also gets under your skin, but often because she’s so plain unlikeable. Despite that, Reinert creates a sympathy for her character that draws you in to the world of someone obsessed.

Kindle £1.88
Another fine read. It’s the story of a family struggling to make their horse business pay, and the awful choices they’re faced with as a result. I absolutely loved Dare to Dream. My only regret is that pressure of work meant it was sitting on my ereader for weeks before I had time to read it. I finished it in tears. It's moving, wrenching, and funny.

Children’s
Lost Pony - free at time of writing. Against All Hope, Kindle £1.99
Amanda Wills has burst on to the scene with the first two books in her Riverdale Pony series, excellent, character-driven books about Poppy McKeever and the pony she loves.


Forelock Books £9.26
A welcome return to form from K M Peyton, with a girl-gets-pony story enlivened by side swipes on the entertainment value of dressage when compared to that of two hairy ponies who look as if they’ve come off the side of the road.

Orion £5.99, Kindle £2.99
The last book in the Joe series has Victoria Eveleigh’s usual strong sense of community and strength of characterisation. It’s difficult to write a good pony, but it’s something at which Victoria Eveleigh is particularly good. Joe’s new pony Fortune, on whom he’s aiming at the Prince Philip Cup, emerges as a real pony, not something who's the vehicle of Joe's wants and desires.


Pageworks Press £5.71, Kindle £1.81
Turning on a Dime is a departure for Maggie Dana: a time slip story switching between the present day and Civil War America. It’s my favourite historical of the year. After the Storm is another excellent addition to the Kate and Holly series.

Nosy Crow £5.99, Kindle £3.59
This is a series which is getting stronger as it goes. The Palomino Pony Rides Out sees Georgia wrestling with competing in the Working Hunter Team Championships, her friendship struggles, and her mare Lily’s imminent foal.

Young Readers
Usborne £4.99, Kindle £1.71
This is a brilliant read for the younger pony lover, and if you read it to your child, you are in for a treat too. Diana Kimpton is a fine and subtle writer, with the gift of being able to write a story that appeals both to the child and adult reader.


Reprints
Faber £6.39, Kindle £3.49
Set in India, with rebellious racehorses and nuns. If you want a story of a race horse who overcomes horrible early traumas, you will find it in this book, but that's not the heart of it. This is a story of change: a great mishmash of colour, passion and belief.

Ruby Ferguson: Jill Enjoys Her Ponies & Jill’s Riding Club
Fidra £7.99
There was no way I could leave Jill out of this review. Fidra are flying ahead with their reprints of the fine Jill books, bringing what are probably the best loved pony books of all time to a new audience.


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4 comments:

Aimz said...

I finally downloaded 'Boys Don't Ride' today.
Wow! One part of me wishes it was longer, the other thinks the author finished with the perfect situation. I hope she writes more pony books!

Jane Badger said...

I'm glad you liked it. She has written another (longer) pony book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eleanor-McGraw-named-Mouse-called-ebook/dp/B00D40B3YU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1418633027&sr=8-2&keywords=katharina+marcus. Also excellent!

Aimz said...

I managed to get hold of her other book off Book Depository :)

Jane Badger said...

Excellent! I do hope you enjoy it. :)