Books make great Christmas presents and I am firm believer in adopting that Icleandic tradition of Jolabokaflod “The Christmas book flood”. The joy of an annual in a Christmas stocking on Christmas morning is one of my strongest Christmas memories, and I so I love to give books as gifts. Here is a little selection of some of my favourite books of the moment which might be about to wrapped and hidden under the tree.
First up is A Murder To Die For which I love. Stevyn Colgan paints a world of a modern-day literary convention (think of an Agatha Christie convention, if there is such a thing) populated by vibrant characters. Then, he lets them develop into people you come to know and love. Well, some of them anyway 😉 There’s slapstick, intrigue, a good wadge of crime detail and some truly exceptional character names. It will grab you and not let go for its 350-odd pages. The author is ex-police himself and that rich experience shines through. Not just in technical detail either, but in observation and some wry observations about “the policeman’s lot”.
Stevyn manages to bring that precision to his writing and the surreal scene jumps from the page. It becomes immediately plausible and you *are* in Nagesy, braced for the annual invasion of “Millies”.
No spoilers but I think you’ll enjoy this one.
The next one is Making Winter by Emma Mitchell. I have followed Emma on social media for years and have seen her photography skills develop, along with her passion for the outdoors, in awe. Emma is a firm believer in understanding how winter can make us all feel a bit “Out of sorts” so set about finding ways that might brighten our mood. This book does that perfectly. The photographs are beautiful. The recipes heavenly, and it is bursting with projects that are guaranteed to help you survive the darker months. It is out now, priced at £14.99
The next one on my list is one you will need to wait a little while for so I am book marking it for any book tokens received over the coming weeks. Written by Ruth Jones (Yes, Stacey from Gavin and Stacey) it isnt out until April and so I was lucky enough to get my hands on a proof and read it, pretty much in one sitting. It tells the story of Kate who at the age of 22 had a fling with married man Callum. It ended in heartbreak (as you would expect). Seventeen years later, a wife and mother, Kate bumps into Callum (himself still married with children). Do they walk away? Or do they risk finding out what might have been? You will have to read it to find out, but I was gripped. Definitely keep an eye out for this being released, it is going to make all sorts of “Book of the year” lists.
Next up is “I Know a Secret” by Tess Gerritsen. This one came out in the summer, and remember that flight to Malta that had us sitting on an aircraft for four hours that didn’t take off and then we had to change planes etc? Well I started this at the departure gate and by the time we eventually landed in Malta I had finished it. I was oblivious to the fact my seat was by the galley. Right by the loos and parallel to the endless queue for the loo. And the bloke sitting next to me (not Mr B, we had been split up as per the usual “if you dont pay to sit together we will separate you” rules airlines have seemed to introduce). The author, Tess Gerritsen, is also a physician who understands emergency rooms and autopsies meaning her stories have a depth to them that goes beyond just the plot. You really get drawn into the processes of a police investigation. Out now, buy it but clear your diary first.
Lastly, and by no means least is the beautiful Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. You may remember Rachel’s name from her previous novels such as “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” , “Perfect” and “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy”, all of which are beautifully told stories that leave you wanting to know more of the characters. I was convinced that I saw Harold Fry wherever I went after I finished reading it. He was a real person in my head, so vivid was Rachel’s depiction of him. This story is no different, telling the story of Frank who runs a music shop in the late eighties. One day Ilse Brachmann wanders in and asks Frank to teach her about her music and so begins a journey of learning to listen, to feel, of old wounds being opened up. Of being brave. It is a wonderful story and perfect for a turkey and mince pie induced sofa-staycation on Boxing Day. Out now, £14.99