Dates: 11th September - 8th October
Synopsis: Travelling to Work is the third volume of Michael Palin’s widely acclaimed diaries. After the Python years and a decade of filming, writing and acting, Palin’s career takes an unexpected detour into travel, which will shape his working life for the next 25 years. Yet, as the diaries reveal, he remained ferociously busy on a host of other projects throughout this whirlwind period.
My thoughts: I love Palin, and I’ve loved reading his diaries, and watching his travel shows. So this collection of diary entries that documents his life in and around his three biggest travel documentaries is just excellent. While the actual travels are documented in far more detail in their own books, this offers a lot of insight in to his life around these times, which is always nice and interesting to read about.

Dates: 11th September - 8th October

Synopsis: Travelling to Work is the third volume of Michael Palin’s widely acclaimed diaries. After the Python years and a decade of filming, writing and acting, Palin’s career takes an unexpected detour into travel, which will shape his working life for the next 25 years. Yet, as the diaries reveal, he remained ferociously busy on a host of other projects throughout this whirlwind period.

My thoughts: I love Palin, and I’ve loved reading his diaries, and watching his travel shows. So this collection of diary entries that documents his life in and around his three biggest travel documentaries is just excellent. While the actual travels are documented in far more detail in their own books, this offers a lot of insight in to his life around these times, which is always nice and interesting to read about.

Dates: 2nd September - 11th September.

Synopsis: One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking …

My thoughts: David Mitchell is easily my favourite author, and I’ve loved all 5 of his previous books. This is easily my 3rd favourite now. I would say it’s very different from his previous books, but they’re all very different already. The mix of ‘ordinary’ drama and the fantasy elements of the 5th chapter shouldn’t work well together, but they really do. Much like the different types of story in Cloud Atlas all mash together seamlessly. Speaking of Cloud Atlas, this like most of Mitchell’s books all connect in varying ways. Hugo Lamb, narrator of chapter 2 previously appeared in Black Swan Green, Mr Marinus ‘appeared’ in Jacob de Zoet, and there are references to other characters and events*  from all his books. It really helps you feel fully immersed in the story, knowing these things without it being written anywhere it the books. It draws me in at least. I really hope we get to hear more about some of these characters in future books. Though I try not to put my favourite books of the year in any order, this is definitely the best so far.

*(I think there’s an explanation as to what happens to the world between the Sonmi and Sloosha chapters in Cloud Atlas, which is awesome).

Dates: 2nd September - 11th September.

Synopsis: One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking …

My thoughts: David Mitchell is easily my favourite author, and I’ve loved all 5 of his previous books. This is easily my 3rd favourite now. I would say it’s very different from his previous books, but they’re all very different already. The mix of ‘ordinary’ drama and the fantasy elements of the 5th chapter shouldn’t work well together, but they really do. Much like the different types of story in Cloud Atlas all mash together seamlessly. Speaking of Cloud Atlas, this like most of Mitchell’s books all connect in varying ways. Hugo Lamb, narrator of chapter 2 previously appeared in Black Swan Green, Mr Marinus ‘appeared’ in Jacob de Zoet, and there are references to other characters and events*  from all his books. It really helps you feel fully immersed in the story, knowing these things without it being written anywhere it the books. It draws me in at least. I really hope we get to hear more about some of these characters in future books. Though I try not to put my favourite books of the year in any order, this is definitely the best so far.

*(I think there’s an explanation as to what happens to the world between the Sonmi and Sloosha chapters in Cloud Atlas, which is awesome).

Dates: 15th August -1st September. 

Synopsis: Harry Christmas has it all: grief, debt, gout, red trousers.Running away to Caracas might seem like a good idea, but mischief is a greedy companion. Escape turns into tragedy and love becomes shame as he finds himself the agent of far greater havoc …

My thoughts: This was fun enough as a filler between good books, but it didn’t grip me at all. I know he was supposed to be a bit of a dick, but I just couldn’t like the main character at all, and others felt way too two dimensional. The sex scenes felt really out of place and inappropriate. Basically this wasn’t all that great.

Dates: 15th August -1st September.

Synopsis: Harry Christmas has it all: grief, debt, gout, red trousers.
Running away to Caracas might seem like a good idea, but mischief is a greedy companion. Escape turns into tragedy and love becomes shame as he finds himself the agent of far greater havoc …

My thoughts: This was fun enough as a filler between good books, but it didn’t grip me at all. I know he was supposed to be a bit of a dick, but I just couldn’t like the main character at all, and others felt way too two dimensional. The sex scenes felt really out of place and inappropriate. Basically this wasn’t all that great.

Dates: 5th August - 14th August 2014.

Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

My thoughts: I’ve been told by several people for many years to read this, and I finally got round to it. Oh why did I not read this sooner. It was nothing like I expected it to be, but it was so much better than that. I don’t want to say anything about the plot, because if you’re going to read this I want it to be as surprising as it was to me. But this is an amazing book, and the imagery it conjured up in my mind was just….wow. It’s incredible. Read it. Read it now.

Dates: 5th August - 14th August 2014.

Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:

Opens at Nightfall

Closes at Dawn

My thoughts: I’ve been told by several people for many years to read this, and I finally got round to it. Oh why did I not read this sooner. It was nothing like I expected it to be, but it was so much better than that. I don’t want to say anything about the plot, because if you’re going to read this I want it to be as surprising as it was to me. But this is an amazing book, and the imagery it conjured up in my mind was just….wow. It’s incredible. Read it. Read it now.

Dates: July 19th - July 28th

Synopsis: In an alternate world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history, the US won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the cold war is in full effect. Watchmen begins as a murder-mystery, but soon unfolds into a planet-altering conspiracy. As the resolution comes to a head, the unlikely group of reunited heroes—Rorschach, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias - have to test the limits of their convictions and ask themselves where the true line is between good and evil.

My thoughts: Well now, I loved the film adaptation of this so much, and so eventually I had to read the comic. Having finally done it, I can safely say that I love this just as much as the film. I do find the ending of the film to be a bit more satisfactory than the comic though, as it felt like Dr Manhattan made some sort of sacrifice rather than just walking away. When I said I loved the film, I specifically meant the directors cut. The ‘ultimate’ cut never really added anything interesting for me, The Black Freighter side story really didn’t seem that special to me, however in comic form, I do feel that it does add something, a parallel to the main story that plays nicely off of it. If you’re a fan of comic books/graphic novels and you’ve not read this yet, then do so now. It’s brilliant.

Dates: July 19th - July 28th

Synopsis: In an alternate world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history, the US won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the cold war is in full effect. Watchmen begins as a murder-mystery, but soon unfolds into a planet-altering conspiracy. As the resolution comes to a head, the unlikely group of reunited heroes—Rorschach, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias - have to test the limits of their convictions and ask themselves where the true line is between good and evil.

My thoughts: Well now, I loved the film adaptation of this so much, and so eventually I had to read the comic. Having finally done it, I can safely say that I love this just as much as the film. I do find the ending of the film to be a bit more satisfactory than the comic though, as it felt like Dr Manhattan made some sort of sacrifice rather than just walking away. When I said I loved the film, I specifically meant the directors cut. The ‘ultimate’ cut never really added anything interesting for me, The Black Freighter side story really didn’t seem that special to me, however in comic form, I do feel that it does add something, a parallel to the main story that plays nicely off of it. If you’re a fan of comic books/graphic novels and you’ve not read this yet, then do so now. It’s brilliant.

Dates: July 5th - July 13th

Synopsis: Stumbling through a secret entrance, Zanna and Deeba emerge in the strange wonderland of UnLondon. Here all the lost and broken things of London end up, and some of its people, too – including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas and Hemi the half-ghost boy. UnLondon is a place where Routemaster buses have legs, where Librarians are ‘bookaneers’, intrepid adventurers dedicated to hunting down lost books, and postmen spend years tracking the mobile addresses of the ever changing Puzzleborough. But the girls have arrived at a dangerous time – UnLondon is under siege by the sinister Smog; it’s a city awaiting its hero.

My thoughts: Erm. Well, I liked the concept of the story, more than the story itself. It felt a bit too rushed but at the same time stretched out. It seemed like every chapter had to have it’s own moment of emphasis, which really made it drag. There was almost a perilous moment on every page, and after awhile it becomes very tiring. I think if you removed some of the events and stretched some others, this would be a really solid book, but as it is, I feel no inclination to read any more Mieville books. I will however say that I did enjoy more than I did other similar books, notably Stardust and Neverwhere both by Gaiman, but this didn’t fare much higher.

Dates: July 5th - July 13th

Synopsis: Stumbling through a secret entrance, Zanna and Deeba emerge in the strange wonderland of UnLondon. Here all the lost and broken things of London end up, and some of its people, too – including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas and Hemi the half-ghost boy. UnLondon is a place where Routemaster buses have legs, where Librarians are ‘bookaneers’, intrepid adventurers dedicated to hunting down lost books, and postmen spend years tracking the mobile addresses of the ever changing Puzzleborough. But the girls have arrived at a dangerous time – UnLondon is under siege by the sinister Smog; it’s a city awaiting its hero.

My thoughts: Erm. Well, I liked the concept of the story, more than the story itself. It felt a bit too rushed but at the same time stretched out. It seemed like every chapter had to have it’s own moment of emphasis, which really made it drag. There was almost a perilous moment on every page, and after awhile it becomes very tiring. I think if you removed some of the events and stretched some others, this would be a really solid book, but as it is, I feel no inclination to read any more Mieville books. I will however say that I did enjoy more than I did other similar books, notably Stardust and Neverwhere both by Gaiman, but this didn’t fare much higher.

Dates: June 18th - July 5th.

Synopsis: The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance.
In King’s Landing the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister, awaits trial, abandoned by all those she trusted; while in the eastern city of Yunkai her brother Tyrion has been sold as a slave. From the Wall, having left his wife and the Red Priestess Melisandre under the protection of Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon marches south to confront the Boltons at Winterfell. But beyond the Wall the wildling armies are massing for an assault…

My thoughts: Gah. Oh god. Where do I start? With the ending perhaps? Jesus Christ. Since this is currently the last Ice and Fire book I’m able to read, the cliffhangers (and there are many) actually feel like cliffhangers and I don’t know how long we have to wait until the next one but I just want to sleep now until it’s out.

Dates: June 18th - July 5th.

Synopsis: The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance.

In King’s Landing the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister, awaits trial, abandoned by all those she trusted; while in the eastern city of Yunkai her brother Tyrion has been sold as a slave. From the Wall, having left his wife and the Red Priestess Melisandre under the protection of Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon marches south to confront the Boltons at Winterfell. But beyond the Wall the wildling armies are massing for an assault…

My thoughts: Gah. Oh god. Where do I start? With the ending perhaps? Jesus Christ. Since this is currently the last Ice and Fire book I’m able to read, the cliffhangers (and there are many) actually feel like cliffhangers and I don’t know how long we have to wait until the next one but I just want to sleep now until it’s out.

Dates: June 15th - June 18th.

Synopsis: As he films the final episode, actor David Suchet recalls his experience of playing Agatha Christie’s world-famous detective, Hercule Poirot, for almost a quarter of a century.

My thoughts: Mon dieu. I don’t remember a time where David Suchet wasn’t Poirot, and I don’t want to know a world where he isn’t. This book is basically a recap of everything Suchet Did during the Poirot years, and at times it is a bit repetitive and does feel rather matter-of-fact and self congratulatory, but so was Poirot himself so it is kind of fitting. I didn’t think it would actually make me emotional in any way at all, but as it reached the end and Suchet was saying goodbye to Poirot, I did feel slightly sad. A lovely little book to wrap up all the glorious Poriot years. Good-bye, cher ami.

Dates: June 15th - June 18th.

Synopsis: As he films the final episode, actor David Suchet recalls his experience of playing Agatha Christie’s world-famous detective, Hercule Poirot, for almost a quarter of a century.

My thoughts: Mon dieu. I don’t remember a time where David Suchet wasn’t Poirot, and I don’t want to know a world where he isn’t. This book is basically a recap of everything Suchet Did during the Poirot years, and at times it is a bit repetitive and does feel rather matter-of-fact and self congratulatory, but so was Poirot himself so it is kind of fitting. I didn’t think it would actually make me emotional in any way at all, but as it reached the end and Suchet was saying goodbye to Poirot, I did feel slightly sad. A lovely little book to wrap up all the glorious Poriot years. Good-bye, cher ami.

Dates: May 22nd - June 15th
SPOILERS FOR SEASON 4 FINALE IN SYNOPSIS
Synopsis: In the aftermath of a colossal battle, new threats are emerging from every direction.
Tyrion Lannister, having killed his father, and wrongfully accused of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, has escaped from King’s Landing with a price on his head.
To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow has been elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But Jon has enemies both inside and beyond the Wall.
And in the east Daenerys Targaryen struggles to hold a city built on dreams and dust.
My thoughts: Do I need to keep saying how much I love these books? Cos I do. I really do. This one was a bit more interesting in places although I thought it would be otherwise as the more interesting characters where in the previous book, but actually some of the boring threads became quite interesting in this one. Theon is still boring as anything though.

Dates: May 22nd - June 15th

SPOILERS FOR SEASON 4 FINALE IN SYNOPSIS

Synopsis: In the aftermath of a colossal battle, new threats are emerging from every direction.

Tyrion Lannister, having killed his father, and wrongfully accused of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, has escaped from King’s Landing with a price on his head.

To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow has been elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But Jon has enemies both inside and beyond the Wall.

And in the east Daenerys Targaryen struggles to hold a city built on dreams and dust.

My thoughts: Do I need to keep saying how much I love these books? Cos I do. I really do. This one was a bit more interesting in places although I thought it would be otherwise as the more interesting characters where in the previous book, but actually some of the boring threads became quite interesting in this one. Theon is still boring as anything though.

Dates: May 15th - May 22nd.

Synposis: It was the greatest invention in the history of pop music - the rock god who came from the stars - which struck a young David Bowie like a lightning bolt from the heavens.

When Ziggy the glam alien messiah fell to Earth, he transformed Bowie from a prodigy to a superstar who changed the face of music forever. But who was Ziggy Stardust? And where did he really come from?

My thoughts: A bit of an odd one. It’s all set up in a rather grandiose way, and incredibly sensationalised. Broken down it would read as a list of dates and facts but in the way it’s presented it becomes a story and feels neither fact nor fiction, despite being both, and it really helps it stand out from a regular biography. I suppose it is after-all the biography of a fictional character, rather than one of its creator. It does of course mention Bowie a lot, starting from Galileo, through Beethoven, and HG Wells, bringing us to Bowie’s parents. Filled with endless references to Bowie songs, the only little annoyance is the constant mention of “the starman” but I suppose you have to expect that, and after awhile that seems to lessen anyway. I actually forgot I was reading a kind-of-biography after the “transformation” into Ziggy and I got completely swept away in the story, but always waiting for the tragic end. This has now become my bible.

Dates: May 15th - May 22nd.

Synposis: It was the greatest invention in the history of pop music - the rock god who came from the stars - which struck a young David Bowie like a lightning bolt from the heavens.

When Ziggy the glam alien messiah fell to Earth, he transformed Bowie from a prodigy to a superstar who changed the face of music forever. But who was Ziggy Stardust? And where did he really come from?

My thoughts: A bit of an odd one. It’s all set up in a rather grandiose way, and incredibly sensationalised. Broken down it would read as a list of dates and facts but in the way it’s presented it becomes a story and feels neither fact nor fiction, despite being both, and it really helps it stand out from a regular biography. I suppose it is after-all the biography of a fictional character, rather than one of its creator. It does of course mention Bowie a lot, starting from Galileo, through Beethoven, and HG Wells, bringing us to Bowie’s parents. Filled with endless references to Bowie songs, the only little annoyance is the constant mention of “the starman” but I suppose you have to expect that, and after awhile that seems to lessen anyway. I actually forgot I was reading a kind-of-biography after the “transformation” into Ziggy and I got completely swept away in the story, but always waiting for the tragic end. This has now become my bible.