Books

Why We’re Gobbling Up Thrillers- guest post by Alice LaPlante

Thrillers are king of the publishing world right now. Or should I say queen, since so many of them are written by, about, and for women?

In 2017, 18.7 million crime and thriller books were sold, up 19% since 2015. General and literary fiction titles, which for the last two decades dominated the market, slipped into second place with just 18.1 million copies.Women are propelling this wave, having bought 53% of crime and thriller books in the last 12 months, according to Nielsen BookScan.

I think there’s a reason for this.

I don’t have to tell you that the world is in disarray right now. No matter which side of the Atlantic you hail from—or where on the political spectrum you fall—powerful emotions are engaged. I think people are reading thrillers and crime novels for the same reason they’ve driven Bob Woodward’s Fear and Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century to the top of international bestseller lists: they’re trying to make sense of the chaos around us.

But in a different way.

Nonfiction satisfies our need to try and get the facts—okay, who laughed?—straight.

Thrillers satisfy emotional requirements that are more primal.

Why thrillers and crime? Why not comedy? Romance novels? Why are today’s reader’s dying (ahem) to escape to such dark places?

Because, boy, are they dark. Characters, mostly women, are being threatened by horrific fates. Kidnapping. Rape. Dismemberment. Torture. Abuse. Why?

As a writer of gloomy thrillers myself (reviewers like to call my work “dark and quirky”), I can tell you from a writer’s point of view that it can be extremely cathartic to get these stories and images out on paper. Yes, I’m often asked by readers (and friends and family): how can you spend so much time in these horrific worlds? But it doesn’t feel that way to me.

I can’t speak for other writers, but for me, it’s all about giving physical shape to some of the nameless terrors I have. Don’t get me wrong. My fiction is fiction. It’s all

made up. But it comes from a deeply emotional part of me that I only have access to when I’m writing, and that part of me is apparently terrified.

I believe the same is true of a lot of readers. They want to escape the very real horrors that face us—terrorism, hatred, violence, intolerance, a dying planet…you name it. Yet some things are too difficult to look in the face. And so we escape into thrillers and crime because the fears there are containable—and, if not fixable, at least solvable.

Readers might not be able to face the truth of what’s happening in the real world any better after putting down one of these thrillers. But at least someone has captured a kind of kissing cousin to the fear in their hearts and manifested it on the page in a way that makes it safer. Because—in most cases—the protagonist prevails. That’s one of the tropes of this genre. She (it’s increasingly a she) gets to win. And face it, as women, we’re not doing a lot of winning these days.

The anger among us is growing. I would say that reading these thrillers helps make that okay. We get role models for righteous anger and—for us women—brave and unfeminine behavior that we need right now.

If I’m right about this, sales of thrillers and crime novels are only going to continue rising. After all, every epoch gets the art it needs to survive. As it turns out, my next novel is a black comedy. What does that mean? I don’t know. Ask my shrink. I’m only the writer.

thumbnail_HalfMoonBayblogtourbanner

Books

Lying and Dying Blog Tour – An extract

Its that time again, its Blog tour time! I’m super excited to bring to you an extract from Graham Brack’s latest book, Lying and Dying. Here’s a little bit about the author…thumbnail_GBforSapere

Graham Brack hails from Sunderland and met his wife Gillian in Aberdeen where they were both studying pharmacy. After their degrees Gillian returned to Cornwall and Graham followed. This is now called stalking but in 1978 it was termed “romantic”. They have two children, Andrew and Hannah, and two grandchildren, Miranda and Sophie.

Graham’s foray into crime writing began in 2010 when he entered the Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger competition and was highly commended for The Outrageous Behaviour of Left-Handed Dwarves (reissued as Lying and Dying), in which the world was introduced to Lt Josef Slonský of the Czech police. The Book of Slaughter and Forgetting (reissued as Slaughter and Forgetting) followed and Sapere Books have published book three, Death On Duty,

In 2014 and 2016 Graham was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger again. The earlier novel, The Allegory of Art and Science, is set in 17th century Delft and features the philosophy lecturer and reluctant detective Master Mercurius. Sapere Books will publish it as Death in Delft in 2018.

Twitter: @GrahamBrack

Now lets dive into the extract…thumbnail_LyingandDying
Continue reading “Lying and Dying Blog Tour – An extract”

Books

Fantasy recommendations 2018

Thought I would mix it up a bit as I haven’t been reading overly much lately, so this is going to be a post about my top five fantasy recommendations at the moment. These may not be my favourites, but they are books that have been on my mind lately that are really fabulous and deserve to be read.

I’ll start with one that I have been mentioning quite a bit lately as I only finished it earlier this month, and that would by Dance of Thieves by Mary E Pearson. To be fair I could so easily of chosen any of the books in the Remnant Chronicles as I adore every single one of those books, but as I recently finished this latest one of a new series I thought Id recommend this. Full of politics, intrigue, twists and turns, along with a nail biting romance, this is a must read for any and all fantasy fans. I would recommend reading the Remnant Chronicles before reading the Dance of Thieves though- guess I am recommending both then… Review for Kiss of Deception and Dance of Thieves can be found at the links.

One of my favourite books from last year, Darien by CF Iggulden is by far one of my favourite fantasy series lately. Although normally a historical fiction writer, it turns out that Iggulden is a fantastic epic fantasy writer. Empire of Salt is an amazing fantasy world struggling with the end of a bright age, with battling families fighting for the one throne and an unusual magic system its a really great and unique read. I am currently reading its sequel, Shiang. You can see my full review of Darien here.

Next is a duology that is a really creeping fantasy fairy tale retelling. Alice by Christina Henry, and the sequel Red Queen is a retelling of the much loved Alice in Wonderland. Its such a creepy take on the classic story with the idea that Alice is in a mental asylum following her return to the real world. Throughout the two books, she is hunted down by the evil characters that she met in Wonderland including the White Rabbit. These two books are both really short quick reads, but are certainly worth it; if I was you I would read these two back to back as you will not want to wait. Full review of both books can be found here.

Although I am yet to finish reading this series, from just the first two books I know that I will definitely be recommending it; The Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes is a young adult epic fantasy series. With a county split in three, tensions build between the leaders who want the very best for the citizens. Rare elemental magic, rebellion and court politics, I have loved both Falling Kingdoms and the second book Rebel Spring. Full review of Falling Kingdoms can be found here. 

img_0985The final book, or rather series, that I am recommending are actually novellas. Once again I have actually only read the first two books, but they are so fabulous that I know the others will be the same. That is the Wayward Children series, following children who have returned from their own fantasy worlds, now having to deal with being back to reality. The first one, Every Heart is a Doorway, is set in a school for these children, somewhere they can be with others who have had similar experiences. While the second, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, is the story of two of the children finding their way to their fantasy world and there experiences there. These books are a little creepy, but they really are fantastic.img_0981

So these are my fantasy recommendations for 2018. They are a mix of Young Adult and adult fantasy but they are all as good as each other. I will be doing a Science Fiction version of this, so let me know if there are any other genres you would like me to do recommendations for. Next year I will do this again but updated with all the new books I have read.

Do you have any fantasy books you would recommend? I’m always looking for new fantasy books to jump into..

Books

Dance of Thieves by Mary E Pearson

Back in February I marathoned the Remnant Chronicles books and absolutely loved them. Since then, I have been so excited for the release of Dance of Thieves which although a different series, is based in the same world. I have a bit of trouble getting my hands on a copy, as although I had two pre-orders for it, neither of them arrived on time – although now I have two, so yay!
When the patriarch of the Ballenger empire dies, his son, Jase, becomes its new leader. Even nearby kingdoms bow to the strength of this outlaw family, who have always governed by their own rules. But a new era looms on the horizon, set in motion by a young queen, which makes her the target of the dynasty’s resentment and anger.

At the same time, Kazi, a legendary former street thief, is sent by the queen to investigate transgressions against the new settlements. When Kazi arrives in the forbidding land of the Ballengers, she learns that there is more to Jase than she thought. As unexpected events spiral out of their control, bringing them intimately together, they continue to play a cat and mouse game of false moves and motives in order to fulfill their own secret missions.  

You can see my review of the first book in the Remnant Chronicles series, The Kiss of Deception, here.

I never thought I could love Dance of Thieves as much as I loved the Remnant Chronicles, but this somehow was on par if not better. Mary E Pearson has out done herself again. This book kicked off in full speed action which propelled me straight into the grips of the book; from there is was a struggle to put the book down.

Pearson is a queen in my eyes, I absolutely love this world with its history and magic. With these books you always know that there will be something that isn’t as it seems. At any point you know that there will be a twist and turn, not to mention that you always know that there will be a cliff hanger that has you in tears waiting for the next book.

The romance between Kazi and Jase is one that has you hoping for their happy ending, although however unexpected their relationship may be. Somehow with all the odds against, them you just have yourself hoping that things will work out.

How am I feeling about waiting a year for the next book? I don’t want to wait! To be honest, I don’t really know what it is that has me loving these books, but after reading all three of the Remnant chronicles in one month, I just never want to leave this world. Think I might have to do a reread Remnant Chronicles, would you be interested in a full series review?

This was an easy 5 star read for me, I honestly don’t think there was a single negative element to this book. Go read it, you will not regret it.

Books

AugustReads& SeptEmojiathon TBR 18

So what’s this? Month three of the reading slump? Well one things for sure, this is once again going to be a very short wrap up, hence combining it with my TBR again.

Throughout August I was reading Dance of Thieves by Mary E Pearson; I adore this book, I have absolutely no idea why I haven’t finished the final 50 pages. Well other than I’ve been ill, and had a wedding, holiday and general life stuff going on. But either way, its just not an excuse, I normally read loads more than this even when I’m busier.

So in September, despite one of my favourite readathons being held, I am going to try and be realistic with my aims. I need to prep for university starting again next month, and have a short getaway this weekend, but other than that I have a pretty free month.

With the many challenges of the Emojiathon (you can see the challenges and my options here), I decided to just choose the books from my options that I most want to read. I’m hoping that by doing this, I should hopefully fly through some books and get catching up with my Goodreads goal.
img_0961.jpgThe first book that I will most definitely be finishing is Dance of Thieves by Mary E Pearson; so far this is an easy 4 if not possibly a 5 star read for me- though I knew it would be. Honestly, I will not lie, other than my reading slump I don’t know why this book has not possibly been read several times over already.

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do a reread of the Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman. I read this when I was in my mid teens, and loved it then; I’ve kept hold of the books for so long just knowing I would love to reread them.

Next is another gorgeous fairytale retelling, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I received my copy for review- thank you TOR!!-and I just cant wait to jump into it. Only thing is, I don’t want to start it while I’m in a slump as I’m nervous it will make me love it slightly less. But we will see, maybe a fairy tale is exactly what I need to get me out of this.

The last and final book on my TBR is Lancelot by Giles Kristian. I bought this for myself straight after it came out, having intended to read it while on holiday back in July I believe. I love ancient historical fiction and Giles Kristian is one who has been on my radar for a while, just sadly I’ve never picked up one of his books. This will have to change.

Although those four books make up my TBR, the same day that this will be going up on my blog, the new C.F Iggulden book will be released and I have it on preorder. I will warn you now there is a very strong chance that I will be picking it straight up.

What are you reading this month? Are you taking part in the Emojiathon?

Books

Emojiathon Options..

Well, you may of noticed that my reading has pretty much halted thanks to the bugger that is a reading slump. I really thought I had gotten out of it, but then with going away for the bank holiday it completely ruined any progress that I might of made to dig myself out of this slump. What better way to get out of a reading slump though, than with a readathon?

The Emojiathon is a month long readathon that is taking place throughout the whole month of September. There is a whole variety of challenges for you to try and achieve through the duration of the readathon, and each of these challenges are linked to an emoji. As always some of the challenges are very specific in what you need to read, while others allow for you to have a choice of what you want to read to fulfil the emoji; of course, all the challenges are optional and you don’t have to complete any of them if you don’t want to.

This is just going to be a list of books that could possibly be used to complete each challenge, it is not my TBR- that will go live a little later on. So lets get to it..

Book by a favourite author- This one is very much a personal choice. For me this could be a range of authors; Conn Iggulden, Philippa Gregory or Mary E Pearson. I have a large collection of books I could read for this challenge.

Read a book with your favourite colour of the cover- my favourite colour is green, so I’m bound to have a large array of books for this challenge.

Read a book you said you would read, but never did- I have a terrible habit of doing this. I’m always buying books to read straight away and then never do. Some options for me are; Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and The Light Between Us by Katie Khan.

Give an author a second chance- this is meant to be a book by an author who you’ve given a previous book a low rating. Now a few of my options for this I have given one of their books a low rating, and another a decent rating. Such as Veronica Roth and Richelle Mead. The only author I can think of that I’ve only read one book from and given it a 3 star or less rating is Victoria Aveyard.

Read a diverse book- Not going to lie, but I’ve had to look up what books would fit for this one. I am by no means opposed to reading diverse books, but I also never really know if they are until I read them. Some of my options are, Cinder by Marissa Meyers, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

Read a Scary Book- I don’t really do scary, not in books or movies or anything. I can only think of two options and they are YOU by Caroline Kapnes and Lost Boy by Christina Henry. 

Read a 5 star predicted book- currently I have so many books that I feel will be 5 star reads for me, its going to be tough to choose and then interesting to know if I’m right. These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and Everless by Sara Holland are just a few of the options.

Read a book you’ve been seeing everywhere- Lately for me the books that have been popping up a lot on my feed are Circe by Madeline Miller, The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani and Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton.

Read a book that takes place somewhere other than where you live- This one is super easy for me, both because I live in the UK and because I read a lot of fantasy.

Read a book set in winter- Once again I have had to look up what books are set in the winter, you picking up the point that I never really know what my books are about? The only idea I have off the top of my head is Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, it would be a reread for me though. Other options from what I own would be, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  

Read a book that reminds you of your favourite song- If I’m quite honest, I have absolutely no idea for this one, no books really remind me of songs at all.

Read a book that takes place outdoors- Thankfully a lot of fantasy is all based mostly outdoors, so this gives me plenty of options, a few being: Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Read a book that takes place in college/uni- I don’t know if Im being really dumb, but I honestly can think of any books set in university. The closest that I can think of is Harry Potter being set in a school- I know pathetic.

Read a thriller- Who doesn’t love a good thriller, I’ve got several to choose from, some of the recent one I have acquired are; Zero by Marc Elsberg, The Key by Kathryn Hughes and No Way Out by Kate Elysia

Read a book about a social justice topic- I’ll be taking this one a bit literally, there are social justice issue in most fantasy novels, so I’ll likely be running with that idea; examples are, These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch, The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Attwood and Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

Read something that’s less than 100 pages- For this the only thing I can think of is to read one of the many samplers that I have gotten in my fairyloot boxes.

Read a book that takes place on a boat- I don’t think I own a book that takes place on a boat, at least not that I know about.

Read a book in under 24 hours- I’m probably just going to see if this happens, I would bet on it probably not though.

So they are just some of my options for each of the challenges for this round of the Emojiathon. In a couple of days, I’ll be posting my actual TBR of what I am hoping to read in the month of September.

Are you partaking in the Emojiathon? What are you reading for it?

Books

Books to read before 2019

I know, I know, its a bit of an odd time for this post. Normally its the sort of thing that you would see around the middle of the year, and as its now August, I have missed that. But with my current state of being in a reading slump, I find these posts to be useful for getting motivation back for reading.

In this list is a mixture of proof books, books that have been on my shelf for what feels like forever, as well as some new releases that I just cant wait for. I’m going to keep this list short as I don’t want to be too over ambitious, after all, I will need to get out of this reading slump to begin with. We will see over time how it all turns out.

My first has to be Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, I have this sitting on my shelf, looking at me longingly, I don’t want to pick this up until I know I’m going to read it cover to cover in just a couple of days. However I am truly hoping that this will be some point in this month.Lately I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books back in order, sadly though this is taking an awful lot longer than it needs to be. I cant even remember exactly when I started this but I’m only on Goblet of Fire. So I am determined to at least read this one, if not more of them, before it turns to 2019; this is just shocking, I’m almost embarrassed to admit how poorly I am doing with this series.

Although still dubious as to when I will manage to get my hands on a copy of this, I will be reading it this year no matter what; that book is Dance of Thieves by Mary E Pearson. I read the Remnant Chronicles back to back in February, and absolutely adored it, so when I found out there was going to be another book in the same world I just knew I would adore it. I have to admit though, I am very confused as to when it actually will be coming out in the UK, so I have two pre-orders for it as I refuse to wait longer than I have to.

I think the final book I’m going to put on this list is Lancelot by Giles Kristian. I grabbed this on one of my weekly food shops, and although I have heard nothing about this yet, I am truly excited to get to it. Giles Kristian is one of those authors that has always been on my list of authors to try, but this novel just sounded like the perfect one for me.

Do you have a list of books you want to read before the end of the year? What is on your list?