K is for kissing or killing, the attraction of romantic suspense

Posted: May 12th 2018, 6:00pm By: Anne


I don’t really believe that any books are “guilty pleasures” and I really don’t believe that you should have to apologise for anything that you read. But it is true that I don’t always bring into the open my attraction for romantic suspense novels.

A romantic suspense novel is a romance associated with a suspense story or conversely a suspense story with a romance attached. A lot of romance readers don’t like them because the suspense element gets in the way of the love story and a lot of suspense readers feel that the love story gets in the way of the suspense building up. The genre is a hybrid and different books prioritise the different elements. As I enjoy both suspense and romance it is the ideal mixture for me.

A typical romantic suspense novel has a woman in peril because she ...

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My April Reading - lots of novels (some of them very long)

Posted: May 1st 2018, 11:36pm By: Anne


April was a month of showers, sudden sun, snow and many books – 30 in total for the month.

It also included my 100th book read of the year to date. This was “A Stranger in the House” by Shari Lapena. It is a psychological mystery with lots of turns and twists. The plot is well done and I certainly didn’t work out everything that was happening but like “Gone Girl” I thought that the author sacrificed characterisation for cleverness so I didn’t engage as much as I could have. I borrowed this book from my sister in law and it was fine but if I ever get to review it I shall only award it three stars. If I had realised that it was going to be my one hundredth I might have chosen something more meaty or worthy.

The theme for April seems to have been literary fiction. By that I mean nove ...

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K is for Klingon and other made up languages

Posted: Apr 18th 2018, 10:05pm By: Anne


I love fantasy novels. In the past I read an enormous amount of epic fantasy series although now my attention has turned more to urban fantasy and alightly shorter books. I have also especially enjoyed those where the author has invented whole new worlds, and even better if they have provided a map !. Many of these are based on Medieval England but there are also some which use different historical periods and backgrounds as a base for their world building (Guy Gavriel Kay has books based on China and the Eastern Mediterranean, JK Jemison’s novel are based on Egyptian history, as just two examples).

What an author does need to do, however, in order to make that world seem real to us is to create a whole new language and naming structure which sounds alien to us but which is readable and consistent ...

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My March reading - features a lot of strong women characters

Posted: Apr 3rd 2018, 4:35pm By: Anne


March included a week’s holiday from work and a few days off because of the snow. The holiday was good but the snow days less so. I did think that I might have read more in the month because of these two factors but, in fact, I read a round 30 books this month which is more or less average for me.

I read nearly twice as many on my Kindle as I did in print form which is almost certainly because we went abroad for the holiday. Print books are heavy and so I don’t take many away with me although, of course, I always need a couple for reading on take-off and landing as the airlines still think that my puny Kindle is going to destroy the whole plane as its evil words infiltrate the electronics.

I read two audiobooks for the month which is the same as usual – they were both pretty long ones whi ...

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My February Reading - mainly historical novels

Posted: Feb 28th 2018, 4:17pm By: Anne


We are at the end of February and the month finishes for me with an unexpected day off work due to the snow. This gives me time to review my books read in the month of which there are 33 (although I might just get to the end of another one later this evening). This excellent total for the month has been helped along by the half-term holiday which I took off work but stayed at home for and which allowed me a lot more reading time than usual.

Looking at the books I have read I am amused at how many have historical settings. Given that I used to avoid historical novels I have obviously been well and truly converted. Here are a few this month which I enjoyed – they are by no means all new publications so you should be able to get cheap copies if you find any attractive :

• “The Essex Serpent ...

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My January Reading - a variety of novels with an emphasis on crime

Posted: Feb 1st 2018, 9:52pm By: Anne


January has been a cold, grey month with added ice and snow – not particularly exciting. I haven’t done a huge amount of interesting things but I have read a number of interesting books; 27 in total. They have been of a variety of genres with about one third being crime novels and five being non-fiction. That is reasonably normal for me as I read a lot of crime novels in and amongst the other types and I am trying to read more non-fiction. The majority of my reading was electronic but I did read eleven paper books and two audio books (yes, listening to books on audio is reading).

I was amused to see that most of the books I read and virtually all of the crime novels were part of series; I particularly enjoy series novels as I like to follow the same characters through various adventures and feel ...

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J is for journeys - an everpresent theme in novels

Posted: Jan 17th 2018, 10:56pm By: Anne


I remember once having to write and essay about how all fiction is a journey. I can’t remember now how well I did with my answer but I must admit that as time as gone on I have become more and more aware of the truth of this.

A lot of books contain physical journeys, many of which are quests. Think of “Lord of the Rings”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, and many, many epic fantasy novels. Get a group of people together (or gather a group as you go), head off into a new world or a land unknown to the travellers and you have an instant plot, full of challenges to overcome and unexpected dangers. Each person contributes skills, has an issue and sometimes one will betray them.

Many books contain journeys which are important to the plot to move the characters to a new environment even thought that ...

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My reading life - what I read in 2017 and aims for 2018

Posted: Jan 1st 2018, 12:52pm By: Anne


2017 was an excellent year for reading for me. I read 408 books in the year which is not as many as I have in previous years but still an impressive number ! I mostly accomplished this by doing little else apart from reading, reviewing and blogging and spending most of my evenings and weekends with my nose between the pages. I didn’t participate in any book challenges during the year so the books were mostly my choice based on preference and recommendations.

I read a variety of different genres and stretched myself l little more than usual. I finally got seriously into historical novels and have read those by Karen Maitland and Hilary Mantel among others. I have also spent a lot of time reading Regency romances for which I have acquired a taste – they are great, escapist reading.

21% of th ...

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The Best Non-Fiction Books I read in 2017

Posted: Dec 31st 2017, 4:07pm By: Anne


One of my ambitions for 2017 was to read more non-fiction books and I have certainly achieved that. Among the 54 I read were some excellent, entertaining and informative books. A lot of them were histories and biographies and these predominate in this list – it was definitely a challenge to get this down to ten titles.

Here are the ten best non-fiction books I read in the year – they are not necessarily newly published but were all new to me :

1. “Dead Wake” by Erik Larson is a book about the sinking of the Lusitania during WW1. It is interestingly told and follows some of the passengers through their ordeal. The author presents the facts about what the ship was carrying and who knew where it was as well as why ships took so long to come to their aid. Riveting.

2. “Blood ...

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The Best Fiction Books I read in 2017

Posted: Dec 30th 2017, 8:05pm By: Anne


It’s been a good year for reading – mind you, every year is a good year for reading and 2017 has been no exception. I have had to put quite a lot of thought into finding only ten good books to put in this list. It could certainly have been a lot larger (and, in fact, it was for most of its formation. I have to say that with a different wind blowing I might have come up with a very different, but just as excellent, group of books.

This list differs from many others in that it consists of books which I read during the year. They were not necessarily first published in 2017. It also reflects the wide variety of my reading – I do like to range among the genres.

Anyway, after much thought here are the ten best fiction books I read in 2017 (non-fiction to follow) :

1. “The Final Empire ...

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I is for Instalove - not exactly realistic

Posted: Dec 23rd 2017, 1:57pm By: Anne


I first published this blog two years ago - I stand by it !

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Many books tell their story over a defined time period. It may be a long one (a lifetime or over several generations – although this may be spread over a number of volumes) or a short one (think of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf who both have written books set only on one day). Romance novels often set their stories over a summer or a Christmas period or one year, and crime and mystery novels over the period of an investigation.

If you are writing a book set over a short period and want your main characters to fall in love you have a bit of a problem because things don’t always work that quickly in real life especiall ...

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H is for heroes and why I read about them

Posted: Oct 4th 2017, 9:42am By: Anne


I first wrote this blog a couple of years ago but I stick by what I said. I do enjoy complicated literary fiction and all sorts of other books but for sheer enjoyment give me a book with a main character who is standing up for right and overcoming barriers - and I am delighted to say that many more of them are women now ....

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We need to hold out for a hero Bonnie Tyler tells us as she lists his best qualities. “He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight”

In fact if you listen to her song he’s got to be a very unusual person – which is probably why the Stranglers lament that there are no more heroes any more.

We have two ...

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H is for hacking and its increasing use as a plot device

Posted: Sep 27th 2017, 10:54pm By: Anne


I wrote the blog post below a year or so ago and I'm no less fed up now with the use of information mined from computers used as an easy way for teh author to move the story along. In fact, it is being used more and more ...

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At some point in any crime/thriller/suspense novel the investigators will need to find out some information about the criminals or people who they think may be involved. This is usually a pivotal moment in the plot in that it will bring the plot nearer to its resolution. The information may come from a forensic breakthrough or from a confidential informant but more and more it comes from someone hacking into computers or electronic records – this especially applies when ...

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H is for historical novels

Posted: Aug 16th 2017, 9:53pm By: Anne


When I wrote the blog below, about two years ago, I was new to historical novels having ignored them for most of my reading life for the reasons I give. I have to say that I am now a historical novel reader ! I have overcome most of my issues and although I shall almost certainly never read a Philippa Gregory novel I have found some great new stories - take a look at my reviews and you will see them. Historical fiction is not a major part of my reading diet but it is becoming a more important part.

I particularly recommend the following which I have read in the past few months (as well as those I mention in the original blog) :

"Serena" by Ron Rash - set in the logging industry in America

"The Sealed Letter" by Emma Donoghue - love and divorce in Victorian England

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H is for holiday reading

Posted: Jul 19th 2017, 11:27pm By: Anne


We're off to France in the next week or so and I am just about to gather together my holiday reading. We're going by car so I can pack as many books as I want as well as my trusty Kindle. It has been fun choosing what to read and I was reminded of my trip to Rome and the blog I wrote about what I read there - I hope to have as many good reading experiences as I obviously had on that holiday !

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I have just returned from a few days away and, when packing, was faced with the usual holiday reading dilemma – how many books to take and which ones should they be ? I was going abroad so I definitely needed to be sure that I packed enough volumes as new books might be hard to obtain in English if I r ...

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G is for gender in books and publishing

Posted: Jul 15th 2017, 9:48pm By: Anne


In 2016 64% of the books I read were by female authors - I made quite a good guess when I originally wrote this blog in 2015 !

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It is pretty well established that the publishing and literary world is sexist. If you look at the number of number of books published by male and female writers, the gender of the winners of literary awards, the number of women in senior positions in publishing houses and even the numbers of reviews of books by women in literary publications (and the number of reviewers who are women) it all points to the same conclusion. Women have fewer opportunities and less power than men in the book world (and elsewhere too, of course, but I’m not blogging about that here).

...

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G is for good and great books

Posted: Jul 12th 2017, 10:47pm By: Anne


I originally wrote the blog below about a year ago. Looking at it again I feel that my definitions are still solid for me but I would say that I now read more "good" books and that fewer of them are classics than I originally supposed.

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There is nothing like reading a good book. But how do we define what a good book is ? We probably each have our own views and I suspect that if we discussed them we would have some differences of opinion about the definition. My fellow blogger, Debra, gave her view in a recent blog and she feels (not to put words in her mouth) that a good book is one which you enjoy. Whilst I agree I would also like to take her simple explanation and make it more complicated be ...

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G is for Good and Evil and the area that lies between

Posted: Jul 10th 2017, 10:29pm By: Anne


This blog was originally posted over a year ago

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The never ending struggle between good and evil is the basis of much of our mythology and theology as well as the foundation of some excellent fiction. In fact, some genres are almost entirely concerned with it. It’s an attractive idea to work with as you can set up confrontation and then play with great peril for your characters whilst your reader is pretty sure that right will prevail, despite probably some death, treachery and self-sacrifice along the way.

The epic fantasy genre (think “Lord of the Rings”) is where we see this theme most often used. Early books in the genre were quite straightforward and the evil characters ...

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Michael Bond

Posted: Jun 28th 2017, 3:24pm By: Debra Found


It is with great sadness that I heard of the death of Michael Bond. His well loved creation, Paddington Bear, was a part of my childhood. I know he created other characters but it was Paddington I loved.

I was fortunate enough to have several Paddington Bear books from quite a young age and the library provided the rest. I loved them. They were fun in a very innocent sort of way.

Then along came the TV series. They were just short little episodes which were created in a sort of two-dimensional drawing style. Michael Hordern provided the somewhat dour and very straight faced sounding voice to accompany Paddington's antics. I must have been around 7 or 8 when they started and they were a perfect addition to the books. The series and the books went hand in hand.

Paddington remained one of ...

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G is for guilty pleasures - books you might be ashamed of reading

Posted: Jun 21st 2017, 5:16pm By: Anne


Since I first wrote this blog which I am republishing here I have acquired a taste for Regency romances - I'm not ashamed of that either !!

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To call something a guilty pleasure implies that there is something sinful about it – that perhaps it is not entirely good for you. For someone on a diet a guilty pleasure would be a cake or some chocolate; something too small to completely eradicate the effect of the diet but something that might have a minor effect and which shouldn’t really be eaten in the circumstances.

Sometimes people refer to a type of reading that they undertake as a guilty pleasure. They are thinking of a type of reading which they think isn’t really serious and is some ...

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