My favourite books of 2015

I always enjoy looking back at my reading year, listing my favourite reads and reminding myself of all the great books I’ve discovered during the previous twelve months. As usual, this is going to be a long list (I have never been able to restrict myself to just posting a top ten) and could have been even longer…so without further ado, here are my favourite books of 2015:

Death in Kashmir

Death in Kashmir by M.M. Kaye

From my review: “I loved this book from the very beginning. It’s so important that a first chapter pulls you straight into the story and this one did, right from the opening line – Afterwards Sarah could never be quite sure whether it was the moonlight or that soft, furtive sound that had awakened her. The rest of the story was equally engrossing: a perfect mixture of mystery, suspense, romance and espionage.”


Temeraire by Naomi Novik

From my review: “The first in a series of nine books and set during an alternate version of the Napoleonic Wars. This alternate world is exactly like our own in almost every detail, but with one very important difference – the existence of dragons…Now that I know how things work in the world of Temeraire I’m looking forward to continuing with the series.”

The Last Light of the Sun

The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay

From my review: “A blue moon and a white moon shine in the sky, faeries wait to claim the souls of the dead, and ancient magical forces lurk in the forest, yet the world portrayed in The Last Light of the Sun can easily be identified as Northern Europe in the time of the Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons and the Celts…This is a beautifully written novel, and as well as being an entertaining story, it’s also very thought-provoking in places.”

David Copperfield

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

From my review: “My edition had more than 900 pages, which seemed quite daunting at first…but once I started reading, I found it surprisingly addictive and it was actually a much quicker read than I imagined it would be. Of the seven Dickens novels I’ve now read, A Tale of Two Cities is still my favourite, but I think this one ties with Our Mutual Friend for second place.”

Edwin High King of Britain

Edwin: High King of Britain by Edoardo Albert

From my review: “This is a fascinating novel and I feel that I’ve learned a lot from it, but it’s also a gripping, entertaining story…There are battles and duels, feasts and feuds, and lots of political intrigue; there’s always something interesting happening or something new to learn and I was never bored.”

Little Black Lies

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

From my review: “There are plot twists, there are surprises and there are revelations (one of them coming at the end of the very last page) and every time I thought I knew where the story was going, I was proved wrong. This book is dark, powerful and emotional…and probably my favourite by Sharon Bolton so far.”

The Hollow Hills

The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart

From my review: “I loved this book from beginning to end…While I don’t have a lot of knowledge of the Arthurian legends, I do know the basic details, so some parts of the story felt familiar to me – but even where I thought I knew what was going to happen, this didn’t lessen the enjoyment of the book for me.”

The Vicomte de Bragelonne

The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas

From my review: “As Dumas is one of my favourite authors I was fully expecting to love this book – and I did…I love the way Dumas writes and I love French history, so I didn’t really mind the fact that there was less swashbuckling action and that we don’t see as much of d’Artagnan’s friends.”

the dead duke

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

From my review: “How could I resist reading a book with a title like that? Luckily, the story between the covers proved to be as intriguing as the title; I was completely engrossed in The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse from beginning to end. I don’t often choose to read non-fiction but I’m very glad I decided to read this one!”


Imperium by Robert Harris

From my review: “I had heard of Cicero, of course, but knew very little about his work and nothing at all about his personal life. Now that I’ve read Imperium, the first in a trilogy of novels narrated by Cicero’s slave and secretary, Tiro, I know much more about both…A book about Roman politics may sound boring, but I can assure you it’s not. Harris is an author of thrillers as well as historical fiction and this is an exciting, entertaining read, not just an educational one.”


Lustrum by Robert Harris

From my review: “The first book in the trilogy, Imperium, was one of my favourite reads of the year so far and I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed Lustrum even more. What a great book this is! I was completely gripped from beginning to end, immersed in Cicero’s world.”

Sea of Poppies

The Ibis Trilogy by Amitav Ghosh (Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, Flood of Fire)

From my review of Flood of Fire: “Set in India and China before and during the First Opium War, the trilogy follows the adventures of a group of people thrown together on board a former slaving ship called the Ibis…Before reading these books I knew nothing at all about the First Opium War, so this trilogy has provided a perfect introduction…I am happy to have had the opportunity to read these three wonderful novels!”

Beau Geste

Beau Geste by P.C. Wren

From my review:Beau Geste is many things: an adventure novel set in North Africa; a tale of the French Foreign Legion; an Agatha Christie-style whodunnit. But if I was asked to describe it in one sentence, I would say that it’s a book for people who like puzzles…it’s so much fun to read that it’s easy enough to overlook any flaws…I enjoyed Beau Geste as much as I expected to and was pleased to find that P.C. Wren wrote more books featuring some of the same characters.”

The Sea Hawk

The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini

From my review: “I love Rafael Sabatini! I can always count on him when I’m in the mood for a good old-fashioned adventure story and The Sea-Hawk has it all: treachery, betrayal, revenge, duels, kidnapping and piracy on the high seas…Having read three of Sabatini’s other novels, I’ve come to know what to expect from him – and The Sea-Hawk definitely lived up to my expectations.”

And these books deserve a special mention too:

Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Romola by George Eliot
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Oswald: Return of the King by Edoardo Albert
Gildenford by Valerie Anand


Have you read any of the books on my list? What were your favourite reads of 2015?

Happy New Year!

30 thoughts on “My favourite books of 2015

    • Helen says:

      I’ve enjoyed most of the Dickens novels I’ve read, but I definitely thought A Tale of Two Cities was the best. I’m looking forward to reading more Dickens in 2016.

    • Helen says:

      Thanks – I’ll look forward to your reviews too. I hope you do manage to get around to reading Guy Gavriel Kay this year. I’ve read three of his books now and loved them all!

  1. jessicabookworm says:

    You have read some amazing books – I think I would like to read them all too! I am particularly pleased to see David Copperfield here. I am reading it now after the last Classic Club spin chose it for me, and I am finding it surprisingly addictive and quicker read than I thought too 🙂

    My top 10 post will be up on Sunday…I did manage to dwindle my list of great reads down to 10 but it was very hard and I have snuck in a lot of honorary mentions 😀

    • Helen says:

      I can’t wait to hear what you think of David Copperfield! I’m glad you’re finding it a surprisingly quick and addictive read too. 🙂 I’ll look forward to your top 10 post.

  2. Alex says:

    I read Sea of Poppies when it first came out but somehow have never got round to reading the other two books in the series. Do you intend to read them in 2016?

    • Helen says:

      I read the whole trilogy in 2015, though I’ve only featured the cover of Sea of Poppies in my post above. I loved all three books, so I hope you do get round to reading them at some point.

  3. Lisa says:

    Happy New Year! You’ve reminded me that I want to try M.M. Kaye’s thillers, and I had also meant to look for The Sea-Hawk. I am determined this year to make a dent in the Dumas section of the TBR stacks – so I’m not going to buy The Vicomte until I read Twenty Years After. Though I may start with a shorter one – Georges looks intriguing.

      • Helen says:

        I didn’t count how many books were on my list either, but I knew it was more than ten! I would definitely recommend reading Twenty Years After before The Vicomte, as they do follow on from each other. I haven’t read Georges yet, but it does sound intriguing!

  4. SDCB Steph says:

    I love these posts. I have found so many promising titles to add to my own TBR over the last few days. I haven’t read any of these yet, but will be reading David Copperfield and Temeraire at some point. Happy 2016.

  5. Jo says:

    Happy New Year!

    That is the second time I have seen The Dead Duke… On a blog, so I know I need to read it now!

    I have challenged myself to read The Luminaries this year fingers crossed.

    I am trying to decide on what books made it for me in 2015 but I’m still debating.

  6. whatmeread says:

    Loved several of your choices and have not read the others. Yes, do read The Luminaries! Sea of Poppies was on my top ten list last year, I think (or maybe the year before).

  7. Alex says:

    Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my favorite authors and I think I’ve only NOT read River of Stars. Sharon Bolton was my discovery of 2015. Have Sea of Poppies in the wish list for ever – will 2016 be the year? Edwin goes straight into the wish-list, sounds right up my alley. Happy New Year!

    • Helen says:

      Guy Gavriel Kay is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors too and I’m pleased I still have so many of his books to look forward to. I love Sharon Bolton and have just discovered that she has a new book coming out later this year. 🙂 Happy New Year to you too!

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