Thursday, 6 December 2012

What have you been reading?

Different kinds of books for different kinds of mood.  Are you like me, do you vary a lot in what you want to read?   I find it often depends on the mood I am in. Sometimes it is fantasy, sometimes I am reading adult novels, Young Adult, Younger books or picture books, but in the end it is all about whether the book is a good read, and also in the case of books for younger readers, whether it works for the intended audience.
Here are a few of the books I have enjoyed this year- not actual reviews but there are plenty reviews of all of these, some in the ABBA review pages,  I wanted to share some books I have enjoyed and I hope you might suggest some books that have been on your list this year, in the comments.
 I particularly enjoy epic fantasy where there are several books in a series.  I love it when I have been reading a series and I get the latest volume about a place or time or other world where I know the characters, care what happens to them.  It is like slipping on a comfortable coat but in the hands of a skilled storyteller you know you will be entertained, and sometimes frightened or upset for the characters, perhaps fall in love with them and laugh or cry with them, experience their loss, their discomfort and decisions; exploring their values and their lives . It is all part of the experience.
I have read some of A Song of Ice and Fire series , but I am beginning to read it again starting once more with A GAME OF THRONES so that I can get back into it before I read the two books in the series I have not read yet.
I love the way George RR Martin is not afraid to kill off characters you care for, so that you are never sure. So many books I read  (particularly in a series)I know the main characters will always find a way out of any situation and that sense of reality and real life danger is lost.

I loved getting lost in the world created by Gillian Phillip in the Rebel Angels series. This is another engrossing fantasy series and  Book3, WOLFSBANE, came out this summer. Gillian is not afraid to give her characters a really bad time of it, but their difficulties and their loves and fight for survival, make them all the more real.

I am a huge fan of Guy Gavriel Kay and could not miss out  UNDER HEAVEN,
A stand alone fantasy. I think it is one of his best.
'The world could bring you poison in a jeweled cup, or surprising gifts. Sometimes you didn't know which of them it was...'
 You gave a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You gave him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor.'
Under Heaven...takes place in a world inspired by the glory and power of Tang Dynasty China in the 8th century, a world in which history and the fantastic meld into something both memorable and emotionally compelling.

I  loved Mary Hooper's FALLEN GRACE  it is describled as..
'A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.'

 THE FOOL'S GIRL by Celia Rees
'In an adventure that stretches from the shores of Illyria to the Forest of Arden, romance and danger go hand in hand.'

You can read an excellent account of how this book came about and see a video clip of her talking about the book on Celia's website

and also Penny Dolan's A Boy Called Mouse

“‘Penny Dolan unfolds a story that will have her audience captivated from the intriguing cast list that precedes Chapter One to the bittersweet epilogue . . . This is a true page-turner - clearly influenced by the timeless storytelling of Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte, but still very much an original in its own right'” – Primary Times

Three great historical novels.

I don't really do vampires but this year I did dip into a couple in that genre and I enjoyed them so here they are. They always seem to have such amazing covers, too!

I met Amy Plum this year at the Edinburgh Book Festival and  DIE FOR ME is the first of her series, the second is out now and the third in 2013.  It is set in Paris which gives it a little extra style, and is very readable, with credible characters.
'Kate discovers that Vincent is s a revenant—an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray.'
'In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.'

A new series Sarah Midnight starts with DREAMS. It is by Daniela Sacerdoti. You can read a review of it on the Abba review    
' Ever since her thirteenth birthday, seventeen-year-old Sarah Midnight's dreams have been plagued by demons - but unlike most people's nightmares, Sarah's come true.
Sheltered from the true horrors of the Midnight legacy She is cruelly thrust into a secret world of unimaginable danger after the murder of her parents,  as she is forced to take up their mission. Alone and unprepared for the fight that lies before her, Sarah must learn how to use the powers'
If you are looking for something slightly younger Emma Barnes' wonderful new book WOLFIE is a delightful tale for younger readers that is attracting a lot of well deserved praise.
'Sometimes a girl's best friend is...A WOLF.
Lucie has always longed for a dog.
But not one this big.
Or with such sharp teeth.
Or with such a hungry look in its eyes...
Lucie realises that her new pet is not a dog, but a wolf.  Not only that, but a wolf with magical powers.'

For little ones a couple of great picture books I enjoyed...I love picture books where the pictures tell a quite different story to the one in the text.  Both of these are a lot of fun.

'There always seems to be something wrong with his tractor. But Arthur is concentrating so hard on his tractor that he doesn't notice a very exciting magical story that is happening all around him!'

You can read more about this book and how it came about in Pippa's blog on  picturebookden blog

Three little trolls, Oink Moink and Boink, go out to find a baby for the baby pie they want to make...but they are in for a surprise!

 Can you sniff it?
Can you whiff it?
Lick lips, pat belly, my oh my.

What  books have your had on your reading list this year?
Linda Strachan is the award winning author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage/ YA novels and a  writing handbook Writing For Children
Her latest novel is Don't Judge Me-  published by Strident November 2012  


Emma Barnes said...

Lovely to see my "Wolfie" on your list!

I've really enjoyed Gill Vickery's Emerald Quest, which is for a similar age-group, and features a resourceful girl called Tia who has been brought up by dragons and who decides to win back their magic jewels. It's a cracker - a real fantasy adventure in the tradition of Narnia, the Hobbit etc but punchier and less descriptive, and so more accessible for a younger audience.

Like you, I've also read and enjoyed Game of Thrones. And at the moment I'm really enjoying Creation by Gore Vidal, set in the Ancient World.

Sue Purkiss said...

Must try A Game of Thrones - it's passed me by so far. Am reading lots of detective fiction set in Italy - it's almost like going there! Have started John Irving's latest book, but though I love his writing, I don't think I'm quite in the right place for it at the moment (literally!) Have just read Terry Pratchett's Snuff; continue to be in awe of his inventiveness and the way he ties it into social commentary - though this is not my favourite of his books: think the witches ones are my best.

Thanks for the Arthur and the Tractor recommendation: sounds perfect for small grandsons!

Pauline Fisk said...

My bed is a sort of book nest. Just been up and scooped up a handful. Here they are in no particular order, all bought this year, mostly all ready: 'Writing from Experience - Louisa M. Alcott to Virginia Woolf', by Brian H Taylor. 'Jawbreakers - A collection of flash fiction' edited Calum Kerr & Valerie O'Riordan, 'Travels with Charley' - John Steinbeck, 'Under the Storyteller's Spell - Tales from the Caribbean' - edited Faustin Charles, 'Outposts of Occupation - How the Channel Islands Survived Nazi Rule' - Barry Turner, 'The Gift' - Lewis Hyde *** [really interesting for anyone working creatively in writing, painting or whatever], 'Defiant Spirits - Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven', Ross King, 'Into the Wild', Jon Krakauer [the story of Chris McCandless], 'Lost in the Jungle' Yossi Ghinsberg, 'Braking Distance ' - Calum Kerr [more flash fiction]. I could go on but won't. We're so lucky to have such riches of books to choose from. This is without starting on my massive Kindle list. And all the books mentioned above sound really interesting too. Where is the time to write, I ask? But what a privilege, when we do, to occasionally add one of our own to all those books out there.

Penny Dolan said...

Thank you for the mention of my "Mouse" Linda! And good luck with your new book!

I was having a stressful time recently and found myself wallowing - via kindle - through the entire Donna Leon Brunetti series, set in Venice. Plus "Inkheart" and the first "Hunger Games". Then , while travelling alone in hotels, I ameliorated "Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont" by Elizabeth Taylor with the kindle Mapp & Lucia collection. Such spikiness!

Just home from India, I've enjoyed Tarquin Hall's "The Case of The Missing Servant" - a crime novel set in Delhi with a Punjabi private 'tec as the main character. Have Pratchetts "Dodger" standing by too, as well as a couple of teen novels by Paro Anand. Books definitely need their own space and time for the best reading experience. "Game of Thrones" is creeping closer to me.

Loved the nest of books, Pauline, and agree about the wealth of treasures.