Category Archives: books

Reading for enjoyment – necessary for our wellbeing…

open book for reading

Inspired by Liz’s super post last week, I am indulging myself this weekend because it is Mothering Sunday.

I have decided I am not going to write.

I am going to be reading.

But hang on, is reading an indulgence or a necessity?

We all need time off to recharge our batteries, refill the well, get our head together — whatever you want to call it. Sometimes it can be a good walk, or a browse around a museum, or just hanging out with friends.

chatting about reading authors we love

Or reading a good book

In these uncertain times, most of the things listed above are just not practical.
Except the last.interior Leakey's Bookshop Inverness

So, this weekend I am going to indulge myself with books. Lots of them. I shall dip in and out, look at old favourites and rearrange my teetering TBR pile. (Okay, I confess, the picture on the right is NOT my TBR books, but I’d love it to be! This is Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness, a treasure trove for anyone who loves browsing books.)

Later I shall also be asking you to recommend new ones to make that TBR pile teeter even more perilously!

cover Death Come To Cornwall by Kate JohnsonI am currently enjoying a lovely cosy crime mystery by Kate Johnson Death Comes to Cornwall.

When I am in the middle of writing a romance, my reading time is limited and so is my concentration span.

Also, I have to read something from another genre, and this one fits the bill very nicely. It has an enjoyable romance, gorgeous setting and enough mystery to keep me guessing without addling my poor cold-befuddled brain. (No, it’s not befuddled with that virus. Just an ordinary common-or-garden cold.)

Another cosy crime author whose books are always adding to my TBR pile is Lesley Cookman. Her Libby Sarjeant series is a constant delight. I love the Kentish village setting and quirky characters.

cover Murder In Steeple Martin by Lesley Cookman

I shall also be pulling books from my “keeper’s shelf” and reminding myself how much I enjoyed them. Like P D James’ thrillers – always absorbing but a little unsettling, too. Her talent for acute observation always makes me a bit uncomfortable, possibly because of what I fear she might have observed in me, had we ever met!

Sherlock Holmes with pipe and magnifying glass

And then there is the Shetland Series by Ann Cleeves.

cover Cold Earth by Ann Cleeves

 

I discovered these wonderful books after watching the first television series, and I devoured the lot, almost back to back. Perhaps it was because we were already thinking of moving to Scotland but I fell in love with the island setting.

Her characters, too, are so well drawn. And so much better, if I dare say so, than the tv version, although that, too is very good.

 

Comfort Reads

Illness or bad news can be so dispiriting, can’t it?
That’s when I find myself reaching for my comfort reads.

My poor Georgette Heyer paperbacks are beginning to fall apart now, but they still do the trick. These are the covers of my copies: I considered putting up pictures of the latest, glossy covers but heck, these are much-loved books. So here they are in all their, er, glory!

worn covers of 3 Georgette Heyer Regencies

There are others, of course, mainly contemporary romances, that I reach for when I need to cover Afgternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe by Milly Johnsonescape the world. My early Katie Fforde books are very well thumbed, and a few years ago I discovered another author to add to my favourites: Milly Johnson.

Milly’s new books never linger on the TBR pile very long!

If you can have such a thing as no nonsense comedy then Milly delivers it. Her situations are very real, the characters complex but there are always plenty of laughs and a satisfying ending.
What more can I ask for in a feel-good read?

And as I begin to recover – from my cold 😉 – I find I start thinking of all those things I have missed while curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a box of tissues. Like cooking a new recipe. So I like to browse through recipe books, ones with nice glossy pictures that can inspire me to put on an apron and slave over a hot stove.
Like these three beauties: Delia, James Martin, Nigella.

covers of cookbooks by Delia Smith, James Martin, Nigella Lawson

Now, did I mention Scotland earlier?

Scotland – and specifically the Highlands – is my new passion. (Look out for a kilted Highlander later in the year!) I just cannot get enough of the place.

At Christmas I was given a perfectly delightful coffee table book, Highland Retreats.

cover of Highland Retreats by Mary MiersWhen I need to rest my eyes from all those printed pages, I can browse through pictures of the sumptuously romantic castles of the north of Scotland. It is the perfect book to have to hand when the weather is too foul to venture out of doors.

I can take a virtual tour of the Highlands, marvel at the fairy-tale turrets of Dunrobin Castle and Ardverikie. (That’s the Scots Baronial hunting lodge used as Glen Bogle in “Monarch of the Glen” — remember that series? Based on the books of Compton Mackenzie).

I can browse through pictures of the sumptuous interiors, imagine the gatherings, parties, balls taking place in the baronial halls, drinking hot toddies before a blazing fire. Best to keep these ideas as dreams? I suspect the reality was long draughty corridors and smoking chimneys!

I admit there is very little in the book that is of use to me, since my historicals are mainly set pre-Victorian times. But as I said at the beginning, this is a weekend of indulgence. No pressure to research or learn anything, just to sit and enjoy.

Now it’s your turn

So, dear guest, what are YOU reading?  I have had my say. Now it is over to you to tell me what you will be reading/browsing this weekend — or into the week, if you have time to spare.

Whatever it is, I hope it takes you away to somewhere magical, even if only for a while!

Sarah Mallory author image

Sarah Mallory

I’m having a reading week…

Sofa days and reading…

I have just finished a book. Writing it, not reading it. It was Hard Work.

Nothing new there. No matter how sparkling the inspiration, how heady the enthusiasm to embark on this particular story, they are always a strain on the imagination, hard on the back and a slog at the keyboard. The reward is that moment of joyful relief when you’ve despatched it into the ether and it becomes your editor’s job to sort out mangled timelines, momentary slips into scatalogical dialogue and missing commas.

I have a busy writing year planned, but I seem to have spent the entire winter saying, “When I’ve finished the book…’

When I’ve finished the book I’ll get up to the V&A and take a look at the  jewellery department. I’ve been there dozens of times but have somehow missed it and I’ve been inspired to visit by the documentary series Secrets of the Museum. Also on the list is the local Arts Society. I’ve been wanting to join for ages but couldn’t fit in another thing until I’d finished the book.

Reading the TBR pile

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An Antidote to Christmas Schmaltz?

Town Mouse does climbing SantasA few years ago, we featured polar bears (left) in our Christmas blog. They were fun, in shop windows and on market stalls. I thought they were almost as good as our burglarious santas.

Christmas polar bears in NovemberBut this year, even though we were nowhere near the end of November, the polar bears had grown. I found nine-foot high bears on the pavement in Piccadilly outside the Park Lane Hotel (shown left and below).

They were eye-catching, certainly, but in the middle of November?

What do we poor punters have to do to be spared Christmas adverts and — crucially — Christmas jingles for weeks and weeks in the run-up to the great day? Continue reading

Slow Burn Story

Successful writer, murder your darlingsThis week I have been finishing a slow burn story. Writing has totally absorbed me. Hardly had time to eat and sleep, let alone read my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Actually Tweet or post Facebook status? Haha. In a contest between us, snowballs in hell would be the bookies’ favourite.

It’s been great. But…

Connecting with a Slow Burn Story

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Military Uniforms, Heroes, Love Stories

Lizzie Bennet with George Wickham in military uniformThis weekend, we four Libertà authors are reminiscing about things military.There’s something about a man in uniform, isn’t there? Even Lizzie Bennet was impressed (for a while) by George Wickham in his scarlet regimentals. But is it also true of contemporary military men? Continue reading

Reading Amid Tumult

reading, tumultReading has always been my greatest pleasure. In the midst of tumult, at home and abroad, it has kept me sane.

But it takes a strong book to keep my attention when every day feels like a battlefield.

I’ve found three. I commend them to any of you who shares my feelings. They were all new to me, two are debuts, all accidental finds. And I am so grateful. Continue reading

Haunting Ursula Torday

publish for impact blurbA few weeks ago, I blogged about author Ursula Torday  and how I had a sort of virtual not-quite-relationship with her which was like a haunting. I fell over her books on three different occasions in my life, years apart. And now, ten years on, I have just done so again.

So that makes four.
We clearly have unfinished business.

As a result,  I have been reading her books and digging a bit – and reconsidering the very helpful email that her godson, Robert Torday, sent me 10 years ago. This is how it started this time…

URSULA TORDAY – THE FOURTH HAUNTING

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Author’s Shadow

Twelfth Night mask I deliberately called this blog “Author Shadow” rather than “Author Discovered” because its subject is not new to me nor, even now, wholly understood.

Sometimes an author grabs you. You know nothing about them. You don’t know why. Yet they speak to you as if you know them – or they know you.

In some ways this author has been walking beside me, in the shadows as it were, nearly all my life. Yet, just occasionally over the years, lightning has flashed and for a tiny moment my mystery lady has been almost revealed. Continue reading

Audiobook Bertie Wooster

Recently, a reader of this blog, noticing that I turn into a drivelling fan girl whenever P G Wodehouse crops up, invited me to review a new audiobook edition of Right Ho, Jeeves.

Hugely flattered, I returned a resounding “Gimme.”  Only rather more gracefully phrased. At least, I hope so.

And then the doubts set in. Had I implied I was qualified in any way to do this? I had never read/heard/listened to an audiobook. That’s ANY audiobook. The odd 15 minutes with Book at Bedtime on Radio 4 was the limit of my literary listening.

But this was a whole book. What if I didn’t care for the experience? AAAARGH!

When To Read an Audiobook

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In Praise of Books with Friends

Books with friends. Right ho, JeevesThis week I want to praise books with friends in them.

I confess, this is pure sentiment on my part. I’ve had an emotional time in which I have been hugely grateful for my friends. They sustain me. This week I’ve been on a writing retreat with several of them, and they were stars. When asked, they gave me constructive suggestions. If necessary, they took the piss out of me. We laughed lots.

And they all held out a hand when I needed that, too.

So I started thinking about friends in books. It is not a genre that bookshops recognise. But it’s a quality that always enhances a book and often endears it to the reader.

Blessed Bertie Wooster is not just a silly ass, but a chap who touches your heartstrings for exactly that reason. He sets out his stall in Right Ho, Jeeves. “Gussie and I, as I say, had rather lost touch, but all the same I was exercised about the poor fish, as I am about all my pals, close or distant, who find themselves treading upon Life’s banana skins.Ah yes. A chap one can rely on. Definitely hero material. I knew there had to be a reason why I’ve always loved him so much. Continue reading