Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book Chase 2015 Fiction Top 10

2015 was a good year for new fiction.  My fiction reading ended up being a nice blend of some of my favorite fiction types: serious westerns, baseball stories, detective fiction, literary fiction, and great series additions from a couple of longtime favorites.  


2015 Fiction Top 10

1.  The Essential W.P. Kinsella - W.P. Kinsella - It is a difficult concept to explain to non-fans of the game of baseball, but there is a strong feeling of kinship between hardcore lovers of the game.  Kinsella is one of those people,and it shows in the beauty and sweetness of his baseball stories.  The man is a master short story writer and, thankfully, many of his stories are about baseball.  This collection covers the entire Kinsella range of writing - and it is wonderful.  Not just for baseball fans.


2.  Epitaph - Mary Doria Russell - I doubt there is a more familiar story from the Old West than that of the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral."  It has been written about almost since the day it happened and has been the subject of successful movies from time to time.  Russell's Epitaph offers the story behind the story by humanizing the main players on both sides of the gunfight.  Readers may be surprised to learn that almost everything they "know" about the incident is wrong...the truth is even better.


3.  House of the Rising Sun - James Lee Burke - Burke is one of the masters and his new addition to the Holland family saga is destined to stand as one of his best.  Hackberry Holland is a good man who sometimes does some very bad things while trying to correct the ills of the world.  House of the Rising Sun is his story, the story of a man right on the cusp of old age who wants to undo some of the wrongs he has done to others before it is too late to salvage some of the good he deserves.


4.  The Hot Countries - Timothy Hallinan - This latest Poke Rafferty novel is an especially nice addition to the series for fans who have followed Poke's adventures from the beginning.  What makes the Rafferty series special is how Hallinan has allowed Poke and numerous supporting characters to evolve naturally over time.  Readers know them so well by now that reading a new Poke Rafferty novel is like catching up with old friends.  This one, though, features an unlikely cast of heroes that may surprise even longtime readers.


5.  Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff - Groff is a darling of the critics and it is easy to see why.  Fates and Furies tells the story of two people who seem to have always been destined to find each other.  Almost from the moment the two university students meet, they know that they will spend the rest of their lives together.  But that is only the "fates" portion of the story.  When Groff turns to the "furies" part, the reader is forced to wonder whether any two people ever really know each other.  Certainly, these two did not.


6.  The Fifth Heart - Dan Simmons - Simmons has done it again.  This one is another blending of fact, fiction, and magical realism that combines real life literary figures, like Henry James and others, with fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes.  James reluctantly works with Holmes in an attempt to find the truth behind the apparent suicide of the wife of Henry Adams.  But there's more, much more to this literary thriller.



7.  Twain's End - Lynn Cullen - Based upon historical fact, Twain's End speculates about the mistress who was so important to Twain in the final years of his life - and why he and Clara, his daughter, suddenly decided to do everything they could to destroy the woman's life.  Mark Twain was a carefully constructed persona that Samuel Clemens constructed to sell books and keep the money rolling in.  Twain's End offers some insight into the real man behind that fictional character.


8.  The Hummingbird - Stephen P. Kiernan - The Hummingbird is a beautifully crafted story that combines three separate storylines to illustrate the impact that wars have on those forced to endure them.  While a hospice nurse tries to ease  the pain of an irritating old man, her husband struggles with the memory of what he did in Afghanistan.  But it is when the nurse begins to read a short book to the old man that it all makes sense to her - and to us. 



9.  Beautiful Trees - Nik Perring - This is the second book in a trilogy that will eventually include Beautiful Words, Beautiful Trees, and Beautiful Shapes.  It is so "beautifully" illustrated that it can be described as a picture book for adults, one that tells of the lifetime love one couple has for each other and the trees which so marked their time together.


10.  The Nature of the Beast - Elizabeth Penny - This is the eleventh Inspector Armand Gamache novel and it just may be one of the best in the whole series.  Gamache is struggling with his retirement and finds himself tempted to go back to work, maybe even to rejoin his policeman colleagues in Quebec.  But, in the meantime, the world will not allow him to rest.  Now, practically at his own doorstep in tiny Three Pines, he is faced with solving one of the most horrifying crimes ever.

2 comments:

  1. What a great discovery! Your blog, which I've stumbled upon via another blogger's links, is a browser's treat. Your note about the Simmons book will send me to the library to pick up my reserved/requested copy. Have you read his Drood? I really liked the concept and execution. All the best from R.T. at Beyond Eastrod. Please stop by if you get the chance.

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  2. R.T., thanks very much for the nice comment. I'll google Beyond Eastrod and will stop by. I really enjoyed Drood. In fact, I think that's the one that made me realize just how fine a writer Dan Simmons is. Thanks again.

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