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Who would have thought it? Once again we are at the end of another year, and it is time for me to announce the prestigious Uninfluential Fennell Books Blog Awards*.
The Delightful Mr F is handing around the orange squash**, and the buffet (3 items for £10 from M&S) is on the side, please do help yourself***.
This year has been a very good reading year indeed. I have read 57 books in total, which isn’t bad at all, especially as I had a bit of a reading drought around July. I have read everything from cosy crime, to some full on, bragging rights literature, and have enjoyed it all.
Without further ado, here are the awards:
The Check Your Facebooks Settings Award
This has to go to The Circle by David Eggers. A story on the dangers of mega corporations and your online profile. It is hugely readable in that thriller, page turning sort of way, but packs a very heavy cautionary punch.
The How to Put Your Characters through the Wringer Award
The Shiralee by D’Arcy Niland was one of the first books published by Fox, Finch and Tepper. I adore this book, the tale of a man in the Australian outback, looking for casual work with his young daughter in tow. I don’t know where to start with praise for this book, the plot, the characters, the descriptions of Australia are all amazing. The relationship between Macauley and his daughter Buster is wonderful and develops beautifully through the book as the pair of them face just about every trauma a writer could throw at them.
The What the Heck was that About? Award
Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan was the runaway winner here. The story about a broken hearted writer who throws a story he has written about a sombrero in the bin, only for the story to start to take on a new life. I have tried several times to explain to people what this is about, but fail every time I try. I suspect there to be some deep meaning to both the plot about the author and the sombrero story, but I think it passed me by. Nevertheless, the chaos caused by the sombrero in a small town is so ridiculous, and yet so real, it is worth the confusion.
The Exactly the Right Denouement Award
Regular readers will know I am big fan of Clementine Beauvais, The Royal Wedding Crashers is a part of her Royal Babysitters series for younger readers. The book is full of the mad, the funny and the exciting, just as you would expect. What I wasn’t expecting was the ending. It is fabulous. Obviously I am not going to give it away, but it is brilliantly, slickly and cleverly done. It could easily have ended differently, and if it had, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good.
The Beautiful, Strange and Compelling Award
I picked up Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baum randomly at Mr B’s and it was one of those lucky purchases. In it we meet a man who lives alone, apart from his dog, a one-time badger baiting animal which has to be kept apart from other dogs. Eventually the dog attacks another dog and the pair of them, in fear of the dog warden, go on the run. On their travels across rural Ireland we start to learn about the man’s background, and finally his name. There is a feeling of underlying uneasiness, and the reader is never quite sure whether the man is misunderstood, or has done something truly dreadful. The writing is so skilful that I was unsure what had gone on right up until the final paragraphs. As a whole, the characters, the relationship between man and dog and the wonderful descriptions of the seasons passing in Ireland makes for a very powerful read.
The Book of the Year Award
My book of the year is…. The Merman by Carl-Johan Vallgren. This is actually a young adult book about many things, but primarily bullying. Nella and Robert live with their alcoholic mother and troubled father. Robert is badly bullied at school and Nella does her best to protect him from what, in some cases, is brutal violence by his classmates. Bella’s friend Tommy has a secret, his older brother and his friends have captured a Merman. When Bella’s problems start to overlap those of the Merman’s who is being kept captive, things start to spiral out of control. Set in Sweden in the 1980s the plot is not easy to read, this is no “little mermaid” storyline. What this book does so well is to describe sibling relationships, both good and bad, and the mystical Merman doesn’t make any of it less real. It is stunning, there isn’t any other word for it. I read it back in January and even now I think of it regularly. A book that stays with me for that long and in such detail has to be my book of the year.
So there we have it. My favourite reads of the year. I hope the winners are pleased, and I expect they are rushing to their downstairs cloakroom to place their award carefully on the cistern, next to the spare loo roll.
What were your favourite reads of the year?
* These awards are becoming increasingly uninfluential as the years go on…
** With a little umbrellas in each glass
*** Beware the salmon vol-au-vents, the pastry is crumbly.