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Books, books and more books.

Bedtime reading

My hobbies are listed as reading, writing and travel. It’s one of life’s great pleasures to curl up in bed at the end of the day with a good book and travel to a different world. In a life that is ridiculously busy, where my to-do list always seems longer come bedtime than when my day began, it’s a great way to unwind, to forget about the problems of the day and let go of the guilt about those things you should have done but never got round to. There is something very special about holding a brand new physical book in your hands as you cuddle down propped up on the pillows.

Just as I seem to have a to-do list that’s three pages long, I have an ever-growing number of books on my to-read-next list –  mainly by my writer friends whose new releases I’ve promised to read. There are 402 books on my Kindle alone – I blame the wonderful BookBub – how can I resist all those fantastic discounted and free offers? That’s without all the books sitting on my bookshelves (there is a bookcase in every room in our house with the exception of the bathrooms) many of which have been sitting there for years waiting to be read, including several that date back my student days when my reading tastes were very different. The truth is that 90% never will get read. I’ve promised myself not to download any more books until I’ve sorted myself out. I can’t remember the last time I visited the library.

Non-fiction essentials

At night I read fiction. The two shelves in my study packed with books about writing, publishing and marketing are hardly suitable for bedtime reading. There are also several books on my Kindle on topics such as  how to build a website, use Twitter, get the most out of Goodreads and Facebook plus how to use assorted social media which are best read sitting at my PC working through the various suggestions. Finding the time to read during the day is a challenge. Important though the advice these books offer might be, working through them slips down the pecking order of priority all too quickly. At the end my day, I want to escape into a good novel not add to my must-do-soon list.

A gem of a story

Every now and again, we all come across one of those novels we find difficult to put down. I’ve just finished reading one. Although I like to think I’m fairly catholic in my reading tastes, the truth is that I end up reading mostly what I love to write – crime. The Scrying Stone doesn’t come into that category. Witches and vampires are definitely not my sort of reading so when a friend asked me to read it, I confess I wasn’t expecting to find it the most engaging book I’ve read this year. I met Jacqueline Farrell a few years ago when we did a three-day novel writing course together at The Writers’ Holiday at Fishguard. I was so captivated by the story, eager to find out just how the characters I’d come to care about were going to get themselves out of the latest crisis that several nights I read into the small hours long after my husband was sound asleep. Towards the end, when I couldn’t wait to know what happened next, I even found time to read it during the day. I don’t remember the last time that happened. If you fancy taking a look, The Scrying Stone is available on Kobo, Scribd, PlaysterBarnes and Noble and Amazon and its FREE!

Have you read any good books lately that you’d like to share? 

My Favourite Reads of 2016

I hope it’s not too early to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy and fruitful New Year.

It is one of life’s great pleasures to curl up in bed at night and read a good book, so for my December blog, I’ve decided to share with you some of the crime novels that have given me most pleasure this year. It’s always a tricky task to narrow down the field to a select few, even more so when I realised there would be room to mention only three.

I’ve chosen one by a well-known author whose books I’ve been enjoying for almost twenty years, but my other two choices are writers who were new to me this year. It’s always a delight to discover a new author and once I’d read the first books in each of their series, it wasn’t long before I’d downloaded the next.

graveyardThe Graveyard of the Hesperides

Lindsey Davis

Marcus Didius Falco’s feisty adopted daughter, Flavia Albia, is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man’s world. Young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask.

The Graveyard of the Hesperides is the fourth in the Flavia Albia series

I have a long list of writers I admire and think of as my ‘favourite’ authors, but I can probably count on one hand the number of prolific writers –  with lists of 20 to 30 books to their credit – who I can claim to have read every one of their books. Lindsey Davis is one. (If you’re wondering who the others might be, they include Agatha Christie, Dick Francis and Terry Pratchett.)

I loved the first Falco novel and, from the 1990 onwards, have eagerly awaited the publication of each new book. I must admit, at first I was not sure about her new protagonist, Flavia Albia. After 20 Falco novels, I felt a little cheated having a substitute. Falco was such a loveable rogue – always wheeling and dealing. However, though this new series is different, I’m now a firm fan. I confess it was Tiberius Manlius Faustus who won me over, just as he has Flavia Albia as the series has progressed. Nonetheless, as well we know, the course of true love never runs smooth and there are always dead bodies getting in the way!

 

dante-collectionThe Dante Connection (Book 2)

Estelle Ryan

Despite her initial disbelief, Doctor Genevieve Lenard discovers that she is the key that connects stolen works of art, ciphers and sinister threats.

Betrayed by the people who called themselves her friends, Genevieve throws herself into her insurance investigation job with autistic single-mindedness. When hacker Francine appears beaten and bloodied on her doorstep, begging for her help, Genevieve is forced to get past the hurt of her friends’ abandonment and team up with them to find the perpetrators.

Little does she know that it will take her on a journey through not one, but two twisted minds to discover the true target of their mysterious messages. It will take all her personal strength and knowledge as a nonverbal communications expert to overcome fears that could cost not only her life, but the lives of many others.

This is a series with an unconventional protagonist. Genevieve is autistic and she has a band of likable but equally unconventional guardians who work on the other side of the law.

Estelle Ryan is one of my great finds of the year. She ticks every box – great plot, superb characterisation and a page-turning quality that keeps me reading long past my switch-off-the-light-and-go-to-sleep time. I thoroughly enjoyed The Gauguin Connection, book 1 in the series and couldn’t wait to read the next, but the best thing is, I still have seven more yet to read! By the time I’ve caught up, I expect book 10 will be in print. Fantastic.

 

divining-the-lostDivining the Lost: Andromeda, Book 2

G.M. Cameron

DC Frankie McCormack’s ex-wife has gone missing and Frankie’s going mental. The second in the Andromeda series sees DI Mike Donnelly and Annie use their very differing method to help. With Donnelly trying to keep him out of it, he turns to Annie’s jiggery-pokery.

But Annie is being attacked by an old enemy and dodging a violent stalker just at the moment …

A gritty tartan noir with wit and a hint of the occult.

 

With a name like Andromeda, you are not likely to expect a conventional protagonist and the reader certainly doesn’t get one! Though I love all of the many sub-genres that crime has to offer, that’s the attraction, I am always a little wary of delving into the occult. It is however, a testament to my enjoyment that I read the second in the series straight after I’d read the first – Divining Murder.

If you are looking for Christmas presents for family or friends who enjoy crime fiction, you couldn’t go far wrong with these authors, but why not give yourself a treat! You won’t regret it.

I’m sure many of you will have suggestions too. What have been your best reads of 2016?