New Year New Books

I realised recently how long it’s been since I did a reading round up, more than six months. This is not because I’ve not been reading, in fact I’ve started lots of books but for some reason I’ve been in a real reading funk for a while.

I’ve had a lot of did not finishes and I don’t think that’s any reflection on those books, its much more about me and I’ve popped them back on my TBR pile.

The book that bucked the trend and broke me free of the funk was Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. You’ll know I’m a fan of hers if you’ve read previous round ups. This was a completely new set of characters and I loved it, it drew me in kept me interesting and definitely got to the can’t put down stage towards the end. I would thoroughly recommend this book and was delighted to feel back on track with my reading.

I was lucky enough to get a couple of books I’ve been coveting for Christmas.

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I’m currently reading Stiff and thoroughly enjoying it. I plan to read a lot more factual books this year, in part because there are quite a few on my TBR pile and also because I’d like to do some reading that supports my writing.

That’s not to say there are plenty of great fiction books there as well. I’ll keep you posted.

Books, books, glorious books

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I’m pretty sure it was Stephen King who said that if we aren’t avid readers we aren’t equipped to be writers, other people I’m sure have had the same sentiment but it is Mr King that is brought to mind when I think about it.

I love to read and while I am a bit predictable in my genre of crime I do stray outside that to other genres and non-fiction too.

I’d like to tell you about what I’ve been reading and share my thoughts. When I love a book I’ll sing it’s praises and when I don’t all you’ll ever hear is that it wasn’t for me. I’m not about knocking anyone down, my DNF is someones favourite book and that’s what makes the world go round and I love it.

What Have I Been Reading Summer

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Another three months of 2018 have passed and it's that time again where I let you know what I've been reading and how I've enjoyed it. 

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

I did it I finally read the the first of the series, ironically it was the last one I read. I have enjoyed this series overall and would thoroughly recommend it as I have absolutely said before. I would say that the first book was excellent and of a really high standard.  You sometime find that a series gets better as you continue but the first was not a let down.  

Letters from the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll

This book was a gift and although there was an element of mystery not in my usual genre. That being said it was in a subject matter that does really interest me WW2. Also I suppose it is worth noting that I believe this book is in the YA age range, not that I adhere to that, I read what I want to but I know it is important to some readers. This was a great book, it was well written. The characters draw you in and I learnt some interesting stuff too. I am not ashamed to say this book made me cry. When I do read from the YA category I always notice that the way emotion is conveyed is extremely accurate and often moving. I would recommend this book to everyone. It took me hardly anytime to read as well.

The Seagull & The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves

I like Ann Cleeves, I have enjoyed both reading her books and watching the television adaptation of her characters. If you are a fan of the programme Vera you'll be able to see how well that part was cast. These were two good stories, interesting plots which kept you thinking.  The Seagull is the newest of the two and I enjoyed this a lot.

The House of Eyes by Kate Ellis

Kate Ellis is a great story teller and her Wesley Paterson stories have that great combination of murder and archaeology which is really enjoyable. Again I haven't been reading from this series in order, I don't think you need to to enjoy them. But where ever you choose to start I'm sure you'll enjoy them.

Holy Island & Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross

I know that you might be surprised to see that I seem to be reading at least one series in order! Well I'd hate to disappoint you but actually started with book five a while ago and have come back to the series and have decided to read it in order (at least for the time being) I had enjoyed book five and that was why I invested in the rest of the series. I would say that I found the plot of book one a little bit predictable and initially was a bit disappointed by that but there was a cheeky little plot twist at the end the said it. I do like the characters though and there are some great interactions. If you like to read series and follow character development then this is definitely one to give some time to.

Get Your Book Published by Katherine Lapworth

I got this book free with a writing magazine and decided to give it a read. I wish I had had this book before I had queried my first book. It is full of helpful hints and tips as well as insights into publishing. It covers both traditional and self publishing. I would have happily paid for this book. It was easy to read in easy well titled sections. My own copy is littered with page markers for me to come back to. I don't love writing a synopsis as I am sure many of you don't but this really helped me with my process. If you have written a book and are about to query I would thoroughly recommend reading this first.

Nine books this quarter (one not reviewed because I didn’t enjoy it) has been a pretty good achievement and I'm currently part the way through a couple of others. I'm still on track to achieve my Good reads reading challenge goal of 50 books in 2018. I hope you enjoy my reading update and maybe pick up some new titles off the back of it.  




What Have I Been Reading Springtime

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t's now April and spring has apparently sprung despite my seven day forecast still showing signs of snow which frankly I am tired of.  So I thought that it was time to review what I had been reading recently.  


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

This one was lent to me by my daughter who really enjoyed it, to be honest when I read the blurb I wasn't sure but I decided on her recommendation to give it a go.  There were some parts of this book I found a little odd.  The idea that inspiration is an entity all of it's own is not one that I can subscribe to but I chose to consider an alternate meaning of the same theory that inspiration can pass you by if you're not open to it.  (I know countless ideas have come and gone through my mind during the years I was doing nothing to pursue my ambitions of being a writer, never to return again.)  I also agree with her that creativity of all kinds requires hard work, dedication and practise.   There were some nice anecdotes along the way although I found it could be somewhat repetitive.  I think this might be a good book to re boost your creativity or at least your mind set around your creativity.  It won't be for everyone but a decent read.


The Dark Angel, The Ghost Fields & The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

These are books ten, seven and two and yes I read them in that order.  If you've read any of my reading reviews you'll know that I have read this series in no particular order and I can imagine that this will upset some people's sense of logic.  Whilst it can create a bit of a spoiler situation generally for me it hasn't affected my enjoyment of this series at all.  

Out of these three The Janus Stone was definitely the best or the one I enjoyed most.  It had the most tension and I really liked the plot twists.  The Dark Angel is the newest in the series and actually was a bit of a disappointment.  It is set mainly in Italy and I think it affected the character interaction in a way that I didn't enjoy.  

Over all though this is a great series and ironically the only one I have left to read is one! I would encourage you if you are a fan of crime and history/archaeology to have a read.


Tonight You’re Dead by Viveca Sten

This is the fourth book in this series they are translated from Swedish where I believe this has been made into a TV drama.  I'm not entirely sure how many books are in the series as there is obviously a delay in them being available in English.  For a change I've read this series in order.  And to be honest the first book I didn't love the ending but I absolutely loved the characters and that's the reason why I read the second book and I am so glad I did, so if you start this series and feel like me I would urge you to continue.  This was a great book, the plot was interesting and kept you guessing and as I've said I loved the characters.  I have the next one on pre order


A Darker Domain by Val McDermid

I am going to start with what might be considered a controversial statement.  I don't always love Val McDermid's work.  But I read the first Karen Pirie book a while ago and this is the second so thought why not.  I got a bargain on my kindle.  Having said that I really enjoyed this book.  It took me a while to get into it.  Much like book one it was set over two time periods and these books are set in my home county of Fife and I always think that's quite nice because I kind of know where everything is and how everywhere is pronounced.  The writing is good quality and kept you thinking.  This book made me want to continue reading the series and would be a definite recommendation.

I have read a decent amount this first quarter of the month and I am looking forward to seeing what titles take my fancy between now and summer.  I hope everyone is enjoying their reading too.




  

What Have I Been Reading this Month?

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I had the pleasure of being given many books as gifts this Christmas so I’ve not been short of reading material. And this month I have been stuck in bed very poorly so I’ve had plenty of time to read I thought I'd share with you what I've read, so far.

Holding by Graham Norton

This book was a complete unknown for me as I was completely unaware that Graham Norton had written a crime novel.  It had great reviews and I looked forward to reading something a bit different.  When I was reading this and I was asked about whether I was enjoying it or not my main reply was that it was odd.  That being said I wanted to make time to read it and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I feel this book was as much about the characters as it was the crime fighting.  If this turns out to be a series I would certainly pick up the next one happily.


The Blood of an Englishman & A Spoonful of Poison by MC Beaton

I'm reviewing these two as one because otherwise I would be repeating myself.  I enjoyed these for exactly what they are light hearted cosy crime that were a nice easy read when I was tucked up in bed trying to get over a particularly nasty stomach bug earlier this month.  Easy and quick to read with a fun story line


The House at Seas End by Elly Griffiths

I had another of Elly Griffiths books The Chalk Pit on my end of year reading round up blog at the end of last year so I'm definitely a fan.  I have read this series in completely the wrong order but this has not in any way diminished my enjoyment of them.  I enjoy the archaeological side to these books and the way the characters all work together.  If you haven't already discovered the Ruth Galloway series I would highly recommend it.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

I have just finished this and the jury is still out as to whether I enjoyed it or not.  As it has a book within a book I found myself more invested in the characters of the manuscript book than the characters of the main story.  It is overall well written and I would read something else written by Anthony Horowitz because of that.  This book is still probably a solid 3 stars though.


I set myself a reading challenge this year of 50 books.  I feel like I have made a good start on this in January.  I hope everyone is enjoying getting some reading done this is definitely the right time of year to cosy up with a book.



Reading Round Up

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A couple of times a year I like to talk about some of the books I've enjoyed.  This has been a tough reading year for me.  Normally I move from title to title with relative ease and enjoy the majority of what I read, this year I have had a lot of false starts and books for whatever reason I just couldn't get past the first few chapters.  Last year I easily met my 50 book challenge on Goodreads, whereas this year I'll be lucky to come in at around the 50% mark.

So the books that make into my reading round up are even more special because they are the ones that I not only completed but also completely enjoyed.

Truly Dead by Anne Fraiser 

This is the fourth book in the Elise Sandburg series.  I am a pretty big fan of this series and it was this book that broke me out of my reading slump in the middle of the year.  I wouldn't always say it was important to pick up a series from book one but in this case there are some elements of the story that won't otherwise make sense.  If you are a pure crime fiction lover this might not be for you either as there are black magic elements to the story line.  Personally for me it helps to enhance the rich cultural elements of the setting.  In addition to the crime action there is the continuing will they won't they relationship between Elise and her partner.  If you are looking for something a bit different and special I would recommend this series which starts with Play Dead.


Guiltless by Viveca Sten

This is the third in this series.  Viveca is a Swedish writer so I'm always impatiently waiting for the next book to be translated.  I also believe that this series has been made into a television show in Sweden which I would love to watch but would definitely need subtitles.  The characters in her stories are so engaging and this is the reason I really got into the books.  In the interest of being honest the ending of her first novel left me feeling a bit bleugh but the quality of the characters drew me into the second and I have not been disappointed.  I think you could pick up this series in any of the books.  If you do start from the beginning and like me don't love the ending I would urge you to continue reading the series.

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

I dove right into this series in book nine through my audible subscription and really enjoyed it.  Again this series has great characters who I think are easy to relate to.  I enjoyed the story and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had not accurately guessed who the killer was, which is always a treat.  I am now working my way through the previous books whilst waiting for number ten to come along.  I can't believe I hadn't crossed paths with this series before this year.  

These are my top three of the second half of 2017 and it is only at this point I realise that they are all written by women.  Christmas is the season of buying books and bringing the joy of new worlds and adventures into other peoples lives and for me I gain real joy over picking titles for my nearest and dearest.



Christmas Book List

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Yes, I know I said the dreaded 'C' word.  There's no getting away from the fact that the season has changed and we are now definitely in Autumn.  This is one of my favourite seasons, as the evenings get darker curling up with a book seems a more universally accepted pass time.  The beauty of the autumnal colours are followed by winter meaning that Christmas is just around the corner.

I like Christmas but I'm not usually the type of person who starts their shopping early, generally I like to feel in the mood.  It's also a season of lists.  Santa has his naughty and nice list and I have a list of all the books I'd love to see under the Christmas tree and the one of the books I have enjoyed that I want to give as gifts.

I'm pretty methodical with my lists.  I have the obvious list; all the crime books that have come out this year (the ones I haven't already bought myself); the research/practical ones and the I saw the cover and fell in love ones.  

A couple of years ago I saw the cover of The Penguin Lessons and knew I wanted that book but it was close to Christmas so I didn't indulge promising myself that if I didn't receive it I would buy it after.  I was thoroughly delighted to find it amongst my gifts fro my daughter.  It was completely off my normal genre but I absolutely loved it.

The amazing thing about a book is not only that it gives you the opportunity to live in so many different worlds but that once you've finished it there's still plenty magic inside that you have the ability to share it with someone else.

There is something really special about someone telling you with excitement how they loved a book you gave them, especially if it's one you enjoyed.  That truly is a gift from the heart.

Reading Round Up

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I thought I’d share some of my reading highlights this year.  I was going to give you my top 10 but we would be here a while so I have gone for my top 3 of the year so far.

Dead Girl Walking by Chris Brookmyre

This claims the coveted number 1 spot.  So what makes it so great?  Short answer – everything.  The story is great and keeps you guessing throughout and for a hardened crime book junkie like myself that’s a pretty mean feat.  The quality of the writing is superb.  The characters were believable, the pace was great.  All round a good read.

Small footnote: I’ve met Chris Brookmyre he’s also an awesome dude, you should check out his work.

www.brookmyre.co.uk

Stephen King – On Writing

I’m not a Stephen King groupie his genre is a little outside my comfort zone.  I was given this book by daughter, she’d read it and thought I should too.  She was right.  It’s a great combination of memoir and part craft of writing.  The memoir left me with tonnes of respect for Stephen King.  The second part gave me lots home truth moments and made me really think as a writer.

www.stephenking.com

These Shallow Graves – Jennifer Donnelly

This is a YA book.  It had really likable characters and a story that made me want to turn the pages.  I took this book to work and read it in my lunch break sneaking away to the car park to sit in my car to read in peace and quiet.  It was combination crime/historic/romance.  It was intelligently written and opened a curtain into an important time in women’s history.  

www.jenniferdonnelly.com

I could go on and on...