Perhaps I haven’t written as much as usual about books that I am enjoying. So I thought it would be good to talk about a few that I have recently started. Nothing beats a good book and these two are already lining themselves up as top quality reads.
So if you like nothing more than putting your feet up and opening a good book, it would be well worth checking these titles out.
Thrown by Sara Cox
I have been a fan of Sara Cox for a long time and have laughed out loud at her radio show for many years. I also really like her BBC2 show ‘Between The Covers’ where she gets a panel of celebrities to review upcoming and existing novels.
Knowing that Sara used to present a pottery TV show called The Great British Pottery Throwdown, it was amusing to think that she had written a story about people who meet in a pottery class. I love how she is setting the story up by writing each chapter from a different character’s point of view. Her anecdotes are quirky and her way with words is brilliant. So much so that I can hear her warm northern accent shining through.
Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Another little gem is the debut novel from Alice Oseman. The creator of Heartstopper began with a book about Charlie’s sister Tori Spring and her fascination with blogging. A solitaire blog sets a game into action that she is quickly drawn into whilst dealing with some mental health issues.
Her struggle with depression feels real and Alice holds no punches when dealing with very current and relevant topics such as suicidal ideation. This book reads well and is very character driven. I love her cleverness in telling YA tales.
In A Nutshell
This was just a rapid overview of what I am currently reading but I can tell you that I am hooked on both books. Each one is well worth checking out. If you want a contemporary drama go for Thrown and if you prefer YA stories then try Alice’s book.
This week my first ever YA mystery novel comes out and I am so excited. Following on from the short novella, ‘The Fathers, the Sons and the Anxious Ghost,’ which tested out my writing skills, I am delighted to see this passion project finally come to fruition.
Since writing this book I have established my little blog and so am shamelessly promoting my story here. Why ever not? I hope that you will check out the sample and consider pre-ordering my novel. If it is not your cup of tea, then perhaps I could ask you to drop a cheeky blog comment instead.
Here goes: An Extract From ‘Being Watched’.
“We’re off to Uni mate,” he said, breaking the silent reflection.
“I know. I need to double check the results as I still can’t believe I got an A in English.”
“Wonder how everyone else did.” Max continued.
“We will have to keep our eye on their statuses. I do hope Siobhan got what she had to get in order to make it to UCL.”
“I’ve just seen Martha’s status and she didn’t quite get what she wanted but is happy with her second choice of Uni,” said Max as he scrolled through timelines and checked a multitude of social media sites.
“I have texted Siobhan but she hasn’t got round to replying yet. She might even still be in bed,” I said, knowing that we had both been up later last night and she was well known for liking a good lay in.
Max changed the subject. He had become quite fixated on one of the pictures on the wall. It hung just above the bar area and I had never noticed it before. Perhaps it just hadn’t caught my eye up until now. But it sure as hell had caught Max’s.
“That picture is creepy. I mean it just looks so dark. All the other ones are bright and colourful but that one is murky and weird. What do you think?”
I turned around and tried to focus on it, but it took a while as it seemed misty and sort of out of focus itself. I gasped as I realised that the dark building surrounded by fields and trees had that familiar shape. Those strange pointed bits on the roof meant that I immediately recognised it. I quickly found myself walking over to it for closer examination. It was odd that it seemed to bend and muddle as I approached it. It was definitely a large house in the country, but had I misread it? I took a much closer look at the driveway and was taken aback to see that two people were standing there, with their bikes strewn nearby.
“That picture is of me and Siobhan. It’s that same messed up house. It is an aerial photo of us when we went round to pick up Siob’s scarf. Come and have a look!”
Max sped over and confirmed that it did look like it could be us. We were small in the photo but the bikes looked like ours and I was clearly wearing my blue coat while Siobhan had her red jacket and she was definitely picking up the bright blue scarf at the exact moment that the photo was taken.
I saw the owner, Lilly, coming past and called out to her.
“Hey, how long have you had this picture?” I asked politely.
“Oh. This old thing. Someone donated it recently when they saw that we had a hook with no picture on. It filled a gap, that’s for sure,” she replied with her usual lovely manner.
“Do you know what it is a picture of?” Max asked.
“No idea. Just think it looks interesting and unique.”
“Kind of creepy though, don’t you reckon?” I continued.
“We like quirky. The girl who brought it in was lovely but a little peculiar. I just felt it added to the character of the place. Quite a few people have commented on how mysterious it is.”
I decided I might as well ask more about the girl.
“You didn’t know the girl? Did she have a tattoo on the back of her hand?”
“Not sure really. I just remember she had jet black hair flowing behind her back. I remember wishing my hair looked that good.”
“Thanks anyway,” Max said, tugging at me to stop interrogating the busy lady any longer.
“You’re welcome. And I trust your exams went well, given the feisty meal you just ate.”
“Yes! Brilliant!” I said as I returned to the table and finished off the potatoes, thinking carefully about the significance of what just happened. Max looked at me with frustration.
“What does all this mean? I mean this is getting out of control.”
For another short story, published in Second Glance: Short Stories, have a read of Feeling Judged which is about the perception of discrimination during a work interview.
On my Youtube channel I began with a section called ‘Adore-thors’ where I celebrate some of my favourite writers. With today being the launch day for her new psychological thriller, I wanted to share some thoughts about the brilliant Joanne Harris. So now Adore-thors is a blog feature too.
Without a doubt, Joanne Harris’ books have captivated me for over twenty years. I have taken them on holiday with me and constantly have at least one on the go, including right now. Having met her on two occasions I realised that she is humble, funny and incredibly knowledgeable. That is why I adore her work and want to share information about her books in my blog.
When she released her third book, Chocolat, she took the world by storm. It soon became a movie and the tie-in cover had Juliette Binoche on it, which is why it originally grabbed my attention. So I read the book and soon got round to checking out the film. Both were amazing and her writing style particularly grabbed me.
With Chocolat using all the senses and describing food in great detail it basically made me hungry for more. So on the way to a Paris holiday I devoured another book called ‘Five Quarters of an Orange’, also set in France. But French books were not Joanne’s single niche.
Over time I kept coming back to her books, initially when I discovered her set of very different short stories. ‘Jigs and Reels’ provided an interesting and often witty collection of stories that showed me her clever imagination and diversity. This writer had skill!
Later I met Loki, the trickster God, in her book ‘The Gospel of Loki’. This was a kind of YA fantasy book that explored her love of Norse mythology and was part of a group of novels on a similar theme, including Runemarks.
But it was her first book set in a quaint private school known as St Oswald’s that began a series which she is carrying on today. Getting to know the teachers and students in the incredible ‘Gentlemen and Players’ I was surprised by the twists and turns that kept me guessing right up to the end.
My review of ‘Gentlemen and Players’ can be found here
So I wish Joanne a great publication day today for her fourth book in the series. It’s called ‘A Narrow Door’ and looks every bit as absorbing as her other wonderful books.