Bewitching Books

It sounds a little cliche but all I ever want to read are books that are able to cast a spell over me. If a book doesn’t suck me in right away and make me want to explore the setting and meet the characters for real then it probably won’t satisfy me very much at all. There are, of course, some authors that manage to completely submerge me into their fictional worlds every single time. This article will mention books by two of those writing geniuses who never fail to draw me in and making me feel completely spellbound by the end of each of their incredible books.

Do you have authors that you can rely upon to always deliver compelling stories?

For me, there are two writers who never fail to impress me with their books. By using intriguing narratives and clever plot lines they know exactly how to convince anybody who cares to pick up one of their books that their stories are well worth seeing through to the end. They write fully formed characters who are highly relatable and have believable flaws. Such characters have the ability to soon get you rooting for them, no matter what experiences they’ve had.

Gentlemen and Players – Joanne Harris

Starting with the book ‘Chocolat’ I have been working my way through Joanne Harris’ work for many years. She followed that masterpiece with three other stories also set in France, with the same lead character, Viane Rocher, whose talent with confectionary disguised her mysterious abilities to make people see themselves as others did. Her chocolates seemed to have the ability to unveil their underlying passions.

There is something very different about another of her books, Gentlemen and Players, which tells the story of a teacher and student who were both loyally linked to a traditional private school known as St Oswalds. The student reflected upon their youth when their dad worked at the school as a caretaker and they couldn’t afford to attend the rather posh St Oswalds school themselves, so they found clever ways to sneak in, dress in the appropriate uniform and befriend another lad with whom they suddenly became fascinated.

At the same time, the tired old Latin teacher was being shoved out of his office and pushed towards early retirement as he didn’t have the will to try and fit in with a modernising school which had been recently taken over by a new headteacher. His life and that of the student were connected but most of the book was spent making you wonder just how. Later on, there was a surprising twist which, after an exhilarating build up, really threw me off balance.

Joanne is about to unleash a fourth book set around St Oswald’s. A Narrow Door pops into bookshops near you and on the net in August.

Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

Having been to a few health spas myself, I was really interested in trying another book by the incredible author behind ‘Big Little Lies.’ So I spotted this intriguing tale on a bookshelf and took it home, half expecting it to be a let down compared to such a successful book as BLL which had been turned into a major HBO TV series.

I could not have been further from the truth. Set in Australia, which is Liane’s native country, this story talks about nine people who all embark on a health farm retreat at the same time. One couple has suffered a loss, one failed writer looks for the opportunity to cleanse herself and another pair have a secret which has ruptured their relationship, leading them to hope that the spa may be their way of patching things together again.

Written in a close third person narrative structure, where the author writes each chapter with a focus on a particular character and discusses their actions and motivations, this book is nothing but compelling. It has lots of twists along the way and builds to it’s ending effortlessly. As with all of Moriarty’s stories, you find yourself totally invested in the incredible characters and the very modern plot.

I hope that I have started to interest you in the work of these two amazing authors. Joanne uses scents and flavours to add extra levels of depth to her storytelling and Liane draws characters who are modern, three dimensional and full of intrigue.

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5 Talented YA Writers

As a new writer myself, I am spending more time familiarising myself with the YA genre of books as this is a category that I want to be able to eventually write in. Initially, I tried a couple of books which had been turned into movies and then went from there. Along the way I have come to recognise some incredibly strong authors in this trendy and highly readable genre. This article mentions a few who really stand out, either because their work is highly believable or simply because their style is unique and their books are unputdownable.

I have written about a selection of YA authors from the USA and UK but this is purely because these are the ones I have come across so far. As time goes by I hope to discover many more, from all across the globe.

1) Alice Oseman

Ironically, her best known work is the ‘Heartstopper’ series of graphic novellas that she has written recently, but I have only so far read her novellas revolving around the characters Nick and Charlie, a gay couple of quite different guys. One is geeky and anxious, while the other is sporty, popular and both are always seeking to impress each other. Charlie has a sister called Tori who is in a book of her own and pops up in the beautiful short story, ‘This Winter’, published in 2020.

Alice is English and started writing at a young age and her debut novella, Solitaire, was published when she was 17. Her style is fun, with lots of chatty conversations, thinking out loud and plenty of drawings throughout. Her books are short and easy reads so why not try one out? They will surely bring a smile to your face. I look forward to checking out some more of her books in future.

2) John Green

I’d seen a BBC TV series taken from a John Green book called, ‘Looking for Alaska’ and it was a very moody and intriguing piece which I really loved so I decided to read a book that he co-wrote and was turned into a Netflix movie, ‘Let It Snow’. Everyone knows that I’m a sucker for a snowy take. The storytelling in this was clever and the way he described characters and used conversations to build images of them soon made me realise that he was a real artist. A wordsmith.

Currently I am enjoying his other YA book, ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ which he co-wrote with another of my favourite YA authors – David Levithan (more to come on him). The book is told by two leading characters and is very entertaining, anecdotal and fresh. I have a feeling there are many more gems out there by this popular and insightful writer.

3) E Lockhart

Now this is a best selling author who really brings a heart to her characters. A girl called Cadence experiences a head injury in the hugely popular ‘We Were Liars’ and makes it her mission to piece together the dramatic events of one summer which had scarred her.

The author cleverly describes a series of summers where Cadence’s family spent a great deal of time at a retreat by the water (owned by her grandad). A group of cousins and a friend regularly have adventures each time they visit but unfortunately one of these visits turns particularly sour.

This author skilfully unpicks Cadence’s life and allows the reader to see how her feelings change when she realises that something horrific has happened. E Lockhart is one author I need to try more of and I hope that you will look out for her writing as it is honest, thought-provoking and immersive.

4) Becky Albertalli

Thanks to this genius writer we have the incredible Creekwood community which has led to ‘Love, Simon’ the movie and now ‘Love, Victor’ the TV series. Her LGBT friendly stories have a great bunch of characters which are highly relatable and fun to read about.

Becky definitely has a way with words. In her book, ‘Leah on the Offbeat’ she uses the first person narrative to convey Leah’s self-conscious attitude to life and genuine confusion about being bi. In one note, Leah overhears a slim girl telling another slim girl she would look fat if she wears a certain dress. You feel Leah’s own inner demons come out as she feels incredibly low about her own weight issues and self-worth, at this point.

You will certainly fall in love with Simon and Leah if you check out a Creekwood book and soon become a fan of Becky’s witty command of language. I find myself reading her books quickly as she really draws me in. Her use of speech also hurries you along and helps you get to know everyone in Creekwood whilst soon developing a desire for more Albertalli work.

5) David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

And then came Dash and Lily…

Well all I can say is that these two authors were onto a winner straight away when they devised a story about two bookish teens who set each other dares to get to know one another. Set at Christmas time, this story began in a New York bookshop where Lily left a challenge in a moleskin notebook and Dash discovered it, making it his mission to get to know this girl long before they even met.

Now a major Netflix series, these characters have lived on into two more books and manage to keep with the Christmas theme. The third book involves the Uk as Dash spends time there as a student and Lily comes over to visit.

I challenge anyone not to love these stories, with each Lily chapter written skilfully by Cohn and every Dash one penned by Levithan. All I can say is that, like the main characters, these authors complement each other well. Check out their work, together or apart, and you will see what I mean about them being incredibly talented.

So these are definitely my current top Young Adult writers but I am constantly getting to know work by other authors too. YA is a brilliant genre with some really fun and relatable stuff.

I hope that you enjoyed my blog post about YA books and may consider following my blog for more of the same.