Authors I love, books, cozy crime, historical, Series I love

My Big Obsessions of 2015

As you may have noticed, I am a total binge reader when I discover an author I like and promptly buy up their back catalogue (or borrow it from the library) to fulfill my desperate craving for another fix.  This does not help the state of the to-read pile or my bank balance and can make me look a little unhinged.  So here – for your amusement – are my big obsessions of 2015 and a few examples of the ridiculous lengths I’ve gone to…

Janet Evanovich

Can it really be true that I only read my first Janet Evanovich novel in April?  Goodreads assures me that it is so and thus it must be.  Since my first taste (Wicked Business), I’ve read 18 Stephanie Plums – and all four between the numbers fill-ins, the other two Wicked books, two Full books, two Fox and O’Hares and a standalone romance. So that’s 30 Janet Evanovich novels in less than nine months.  This is why people think I’ve got a bit of a book problem.

Janet Evanovich books
I’ve read so much Janet Evanovich this year, I’ve a whole shelf of her books – non-matching of course!

Deanna Raybourn

I read Silent in the Grave back in January – and since then I’ve read three more of the Lady Julia series – with a fourth waiting for me on the shelf.  And the only reason that that has been waiting is because the price of the next one has been so expensive.  And ditto her standalone novels.  But in a piece of glorious serendipity, they’re all on offer on Amazon Kindle at the moment – so last night I spent just under £20 on 8 (!) books and novellas – buying up the rest of Lady Julia, the first Veronica Speedwell and two standalones and their prequel novellas.  Now that is what I call obsession…

Deanna Raybourn books
Only four of my Deanna Raybourn’s are here – Silent in the Grave is on loan to Little Sis!

 

 

Historical Romance

My love of historical romance has continued this year.  In fact it’s turned into more of a quest – to find more authors who write my favourite sort of smart, witty, sexy romance novels.  Because this is the problem with being a binge reader.  You find someone that you like, you binge on their back catalogue and then you have to start following their publishing schedule like everyone else does – so you might have to wait a year before you can get another fix from them.  So you need another author to read. In 2015 I’ve read some really good, some really bad and a lot of in between. Among the good were Sabrina Jeffries, Kerrigan Byrne, Johanna Shupe and Courtney Milan.  I’m not going to mention the bad!  There’s loads more I want to read – listening to the DBSA podcast each week will do that to you – but the prices of those sort of American-published romances are often really quite high over here – and fall into the same buying rules as the cozy crimes. So often I play roulette with NetGalley – requesting new releases there and hoping I like them.  Sometimes it pays off – the aforementioned Byrne and Shupe for example – and sometimes it doesn’t…

Cozy Crime

I’ve always had a soft spot for the “lighter” end of the crime market, but I’ve really been rattling through various cozy murder mysteries this year.  I’m still reading Donna Andrews (three of them this year) – but now I’m closer to the end of the series the books have got more expensive to buy and I have rules about what I’ll spend on a book that will only take me a couple of hours to read.  So as a consequence my net has spread wider.  Jenn McKinlay’s become firm favourite and there’s a bunch of other series I’ve dipped into too (again thanks to NetGalley) – to varying success.  I feel more coming on in 2016.

Cozy crime books
All my Donna Andrews bar one are out on loan, but the McKinlay collection is growing!

 

Historical Crime

This is often the meeting of two of my other obsessions – Cozy crime and Historical romance.  The Daisy Dalrymple and Phryne Fisher series were two of my discoveries of 2014 – and now I’ve read all of them, I’ve been searching for more – and not just those set in the 1920s and 1930s.  That’s how I discovered Deanna Raybourn and started that obsession.  But as well as Lady Julia, there’s Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily and James Runcie’s Sidney Chambers. And then there’s the ones which are more crime-y and less romance – like Catriona McPherson’s Dandy Gilver, Carola Dunn’s Eleanor Trewynn.  And no romance at all – like Flavia de Luce (because she’s a child!). So many good books.

Historical crime books
I thought the light shining behind them was a nice touch…

So there you are.  My five big obsessions of the year. Of course some would argue that books in general are my biggest obsession of them all. And they’d be right.  There’s nothing like sitting down with a book and being transported to another world to make life seem better.  You can live so many different lives and visit so many different places by reading a book.  And then there’s the friends that you can make – real people I mean – because of books and the book community.  The ones that you chat to on Twitter, the ones you meet at author events and who turn into proper friends and everything in between.  Long may my book obsession continue.

Happy 2016 everyone – and thank you for reading my bookish wafflings. I hope you’ve enjoyed them – and I’m sure that there’s more where they came from.

American imports, Book of the Week, new releases, reviews, romance

Book of the Week: Anything For You

This week’s BotW is Kristan Higgins’ latest romance Anything For You – which in a stroke of serendipity is out today!  For those of you who are all Christmas’d out, this would make a great break from the festivities.  It has a winery, some star-crossed lovers and a whole lot of fun.

Anything For You tells the story of Connor and Jessica.  They’ve been hooking up in secret for years and now Connor wants to take it public – and make it official.  But Jessica thinks things are fine as they are – and she has her brother to look after, her brother who really doesn’t like Connor.  So with Connor down on one knee and telling her it’s all or nothing, how sure is Jessica that marriage isn’t for her?

This is such a good read.  Jessica and Connor have such a tangled backstory – which is explained really well in a series of flashback-type sequences in the aftermath of the proposal.  They are both really complicated, well thought out characters.  Connor has quite a privileged background (I mean he’s not a billionaire or a billionaire’s son, but there’s some money there) but a difficult relationship with his parents.  Jessica has dragged herself up from a trailerpark whilst bringing up her little brother in the process – she’s got trust issues, abandonment issues and a bit of an inferiority complex.  Watching them work out their problems is a really engrossing read.

And they are proper problems that need a proper resolution.  I’ve read a lot of romances where the obstacles keeping the hero and heroine apart aren’t really obstacles – or are easily resolved.  But these two have something real and tangible to work out.  And the resolution is really well worked out – it doesn’t involve one of them suddenly doing an abrupt character change or an about face.  They work out their problems and grow and mature to a solution.

And if that sounds too serious – don’t worry!  There’s plenty of humour here too – Connor has a fabulously funny relationship with his twin sister Colleen (aka Dog Face) and the two of them have some great sparky exchanges.  And Con and Jess have their moments too.  Add to that a very stabbable events planner and some meddling friends and the angsty bits are well balanced out.

This was my first Kristan Higgins – but I’ve already found another one in the Kindle backlog pile so that may well have jumped its way closer to the top.  My copy came via NetGalley, but you can get yourself a copy from Amazon or Amazon.com – although it doesn’t seem to be available on Kindle in the UK or the US at the moment.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: December 21 – December 27

More Christmas-y reading and a few tie-in short stories for last week’s Make a Christmas Wish.  I’m trying to make the Laurie Graham last – I love her books so much and I know there’s going to be a longer wait than usual for her next one, so against all my usual behaviour I’m trying to pace myself!

Read:

A Wicked Way to Win an Earl by Anna Bradley

Four Weddings and a White Christmas by Jenny Oliver

My Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

Dad’s Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

Granny’s Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

Anything for You by Kristan Higgins

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Started:

Princes at War by Deborah Cadbury

Still reading:

The Night in Question by Laurie Graham

No books bought, but several received as gifts – and they were all ones that I had asked for so that’s excellent news.  I’m going to try to continue to restrain myself, although if I see some good bargains I may not be able to!

reviews

Christmas (themed) Books!

Here it is, slightly later than planned (don’t ask), the Christmas-themed book post!  It’s Christmas Eve, I’ve finished work for Christmas and I’ve read my way through a whole stack of Christmas-themed reading to come up with some top recommendations for you to read on your Christmas break.  As this is now too late to go to the shops, tonight’s links are to Kindle – but you can click through from that to buy the paperback if you want to.  Or you can pick them up in the scrum at the Supermarket on Boxing Day.

paperback christmas books
For once I have some of my recommendations in paperback!

Snowed in for Christmas by Clare Sandy

Asta is back in Ireland for the first time since she fled with a secret years ago.  Now the secret is sixteen and desperate to know about her family.  Asta was hoping to be in and out in a flash, but ends up snowed in with her madcap extended family.  Will she gets the answers that she needs or will her trip home bring more complications?

I think this is my favourite of the bunch – it might well have been BotW last week if it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted to feature it in this! Clare Sandy has featured on this blog before (with A Very Big House in the Country and What Would Mary Berry Do?) and this is such a joy.  I was trying to sum this up and I came up with Ballykissangel meets Marian Keyes and your favourite romantic comedy movie.  This book is wickedly funny but also touching and paints a vivid picture both of Asta’s London life and the village in Ireland.  It is so much fun – and very Christmassy – but without feeling contrived or saccharine.  It is a fabulous story that happens to be set at Christmas.

Make a Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

Last Christmas Livvy was knocked over in the supermarket car park and now she’s dead. But she’s not ready to let her husband and her son go, so she’s hovering on the edge of the afterlife – fuming over her husband’s new girlfriend and fretting about whether her son’s coping without her.  When she gets a last chance to make it right, will she take it – and what is right anyway?

This is so clever.  I started it thinking it wasn’t going to be my sort of book and then got totally sucked in.  I found Livvy quite a tough character to like, but I was totally rooting for her husband Adam and her son Joe.  This is not a sweet and fluffy Christmas book – it’s funny, but it made me cry too. I had moments of wondering whether it would all turn out right (in my opinion) in the end, but when I got to the end I had that warm and fuzzy feeling inside that you get from a good story well told.

Other top tips – I’ve already mentioned Trisha Ashley’s latest A Christmas Cracker on the blog, but I thought it was worth repeating that this is a great festive read – warm and witty and romantic. I’ve got Jenny Colgan’s latest (in paperback anyway) A Christmas Surprise waiting for me still – it’s the third Rosie Hopkins book.  And there’s my Novelicious colleague Cressida McLoughlin’s A Christmas Tail which I read through the year as the four part Primrose Terrace series.  For some Christmas crime, try Mavis Doriel Hay’s recently republished the Santa Klaus Murder or go equally golden age with a dose of Inspector Alleyn with Ngaio Marsh’s Tied up in Tinsel (which I can only find on Kindle as an omnibus with Clutch of Constables and When in Rome).

Shorter reads

If you want something a bit shorter but still festive, there’s a bunch of excellent short stories and novellas too.  Some of my favourites were revisiting characters from other books that I’d read earlier in the year. So you can see what happened next to the Winter family in Harriet Evans’ A Winterfold Christmas or you can catch-up with the residents of Hazy Hassocks in Christina Jones’s Mitzi’s Midwinter Wedding.  There’s also a new Christmas short from Katie Fforde – A Christmas in Disguise – which I enjoyed, but wanted to be longer.  And if you’ve been following the residents of Cherry Pie Island all year, then the final part of that, Four Weddings and A White Christmas is out as well (I’m halfway through it!).  There’s also the final part of Cathy Bramley’s Wickham Hall series White Christmas.  And don’t forget Silent Nights – the short crime story collection that was BotW a few weeks back.

And there you are.  Have a happy Christmas and I hope you all get what you wished for.  I’m back at work at 6am on Boxing Day, please think of me as you’re waking up with your hangover!

Disclosure:  I bought my own copy of all of the books and novellas in this post except for: Silent Nights and The Santa Klaus Murder which came via NetGalley, Snowed in for Christmas which I was sent by the author and Make A Christmas Wish which I won in a twitter competition.  In addition I received the Trisha Ashley via NetGalley – but bought myself a copy as well!

Book of the Week, books, new releases

Book of the Week: Bricking It

This week’s BotW is Bricking It by Nick Spalding. I read a lot of books last week, many of them good but Christmas-themed – and of them more in the next few days. But Bricking It made me laugh despite the tonsillitis so it was an obvious choice for my non-festive Book of the Week!

Bricking It tells the story of Dan and Haley Daley, who have inherited a run-down farmhouse from their grandmother and decide to do it up to make some extra money. And of course the road to profit does not run smoothly.  There’s an eccentric architect, a gang of builders, a TV crew and a few skeletons in the cupboard.  Oh, and a bit of sibling rivalry too!

I thought Bricking It was a bit different from the usual run of house renovation stories. Haley and Dan both have their issues to deal with and that gives the book a great heart as well as a lot of jokes. If you’re off work for Christmas but not feeling in the mood for a Christmas-set book, this may well be the perfect solution to read curled up in front of the Christmas tree after you’ve finished wrapped (or unwrapping) your presents!

Get your copy from Amazon or on Kindle.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week In Books: December 14 – December 20

Well this is what a week of Tonsillitis will do for the to-read pile!  And a reasonable mix of actual books and ebooks too.  I finally called time on Lair of Dreams this week – I tried again to get into it and I couldn’t.  It’s been lingering way too long, so I’ve reluctantly given up on it.

Read:

Paint the Town Dead by Sybil Johnson

Bricking It by Nick Spalding

A Talent for Trickery by Alyssa Johnson

311 Pelican Court by Debbie Macomber

Agatha Raisin and the Blood of an Englishman by MC Beaton

74 Seaside Avenue by Debbie Macomber

Snowed in for Christmas by Clare Sandy

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

The Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham

Make a Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

A Christmas in Disguise by Katie Fforde

Started:

The Night in Question by Laurie Graham

A Wicked Way to Win an Earl by Anna Bradley

Still reading:

n/a

I managed to control myself and no books were ordered from my sickbed.  Which is impressive.  I did do some shopping – but it wasn’t for me!

Uncategorized

Book of the Week: One

This week’s BotW is brought to you courtesy of heavy duty cold pills, painkillers and a bout of tonsillitis.   It’s all fun chez Verity I tell you.  So this post is late arriving and somewhat shorter than I intended.  Also it may not make sense.  I’m quite highly medicated and it feels like razors are playing at the back of my throat.

This week’s pick is One by Sarah Crossan.  I devoured this in one sitting after a late shift (when I should have been sleeping).  One is the story of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi, told from Grace’s point of view and in free verse.  They’ve beaten the odds and made it to 16, but now they’ve got to go to school because the money to home-school them has run out. But something is happening to them, something that Grace doesn’t even want to think about.

I was absolutely gripped by Grace and Tippi’s story.  Free verse (or verse altogether) isn’t often my thing, but I thought it really worked to tell the girls story, saying a lot in not a lot of words and packing a big emotional punch.  It also gives the book an air of uniqueness – which goes with the girls themselves.

It’s fascinating, touching and will probably leave you in tears.  Its a YA book that I can see being read in schools in the years to come.  Well worth a look. One is out in Hardback and should be available from all the usual suspects like Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles, Kindle, Kobo and Audible.

Now I’m off back to my sick bed. Apparently they don’t give antibiotics out for this type of tonsillitis these days and I just have to ride it out. How fortunate I have such a big to-read pile to keep me company!