#JanuaryJoy – Read a new Book

Much like music on Florence Finds, I rely on the book posts written by Rachel, Gemma and other readers to bring new literary finds to my attention. Today Gemma is taking over and has several recommendations for you that you might like to start straight away and while away the dark evenings or make a note of for your next holiday read. In a stroke of genius, Gemma is tackling the books by genre and recommending something for each of you according to your favourite reads of 2012.

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Well, the snow is here, so it’s the perfect time to avoid going outside completely and let books transport you to where you need to go. I know today’s #JanuaryJoy prompt is to try a new book, but I’m not interpreting that as ‘off the wall new’.  Instead, I’m hoping you’ll find a new favourite which reminds you of other books you’ve loved.  To help with this, I’ve grouped them along the lines of ‘If you like x, you might like y.’  Before I get started I’m going to warn you all that this new book guide is not show-offy, nor literary, nor highbrow.  It’s SO annoying when people get all judgey about popular fiction and use terms like ‘trashy novel’ or even ‘chick lit’.  Books are books and reading is reading, ok? So read what will bring you joy.

In my experience, everyone likes crime fiction/thrillers.  Everyone.  What differs is the type of crime fiction you like. So if you have devoured any James Patterson in the past (now he’s a one who often gets the dreaded trashy label but, there’s no denying he sells, so we must be buying his work!) or you’ve seen the poster for the latest Alex Cross film, you’ll be pleased to know that instalment 19 about the aforementioned detective came out in time for Christmas.  James Patterson also writes for kids and teens and the Maximum Ride series is likewise a gripping read.  (although it, strictly speaking, fits into the next category down) Speaking of books adapted for the screen, if you watch the TV shows Bones or Rizolli and Isles,  you may already have discovered Tess Gerritsen.  If not, she’s one to check out.  Closer to home here in the UK, there’s the duo I like to call ‘the two Peters’ – namely Peter James and Peter Robinson who have series about DI Roy Grace and DI Alan Banks respectively.  If you’re already a fan of the two Peters, I’d suggest Mark Billingham’s work.  Finally on the crime front, if you’re a fan of Kate Atkinson‘s crime novels, which are a little more ‘literary’ (even though, as I said, I’m not making those kind of judgements in this post) try these two oldies-but-goodies: Brighton Rock by Graham Green, and The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Sparks.

If you liked The Hunger Games, I’d say you’ll love Divergent, by Veronica Roth: another brilliant dystopian coming-of-age novel for teenagers with a strong female protagonist.  However due to social media etc you may already have found Divergent, and are waiting for the 3rd instalment of it,  in which case, may I suggest the Noughts and Crosses trilogy by Malorie Blackman.  A gripping story of teenagers who fall in love, set in a world where the black ‘crosses’ consider themselves superior to the white ‘noughts’ and the two are segregated, you’ll be vair pleased, I’d wager, that all 3 books in the series have been published so that you can, if you so choose, devour them all in one sitting with a packet of chocolate biscuits for company.
If, however, you’re a Hunger Games fan looking for something a little more adult, there’s a host of alternative reality Science Fiction (yes, really, the Hunger Games is Science Fiction) that probably inspired Suzanne Collins.  The world that Katniss, Gale and Peeta inhabit owes a lot to Stephen King’s Running Man and The Long Walk (Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman, but the King of horror himself.  Yes, I am openly encouraging you to buy SK and I hope that Rebecca will let me back another day to tell you all what you’re missing by not being Stephen King aficionados,  like me, but for now, I’ll stick to Running Man and The Long Walk.)

And, ok, if you just can’t bring yourself to be seen with a try Stephen King, consider The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  The Folio Society have re-issued this modern classic in a gorgeous gorgeous illustrated hardback just begging to be read and re-read and kept on display.

Game of Thrones.  Now, for starters, if you’ve watched the TV show derived from ASOIAF but haven’t read the books, (ASOIAF, by the way, stands for A Song of Ice and Fire – the name of the series) getting the first is a sure-fire winner.  Just don’t expect to get anything done for the next few the weekends.  If however, you’re like my friend Zarah-from-work’s boyfriend who apparently ‘spent 4 months in the ASOIAF tunnel, barely coming up for air’, and you’re looking for the next multi-book set, try out The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.
Or, and these two suggestions are possibly more for women though obviously here at Florence Finds we don’t discriminate ;), there’s:

The Outlander series by Diana Galbaldon: Epic in the true sense of the word, this series centres around Clare Randall, an English woman who time travels from the 1950s to the 1700s in Scotland and meets a Highlander called Jamie Fraser.  My great aunt was the one who originally told me about them and I was surprised at how, ahem, racy they are 😉 but the historical detail is incredible and they are utterly gripping.  I read all 7 in December.

Barbara Erskine’s novels: Barbara Erskine writes historical tales with a splash of the supernatural and every one I’ve read I’ve been unable to put down.  More often than not featuring strong female figures from the past, (some real, some imagined, and some sillier than others) these too are big on historical detail and are perfect for reading in the bath. (Though not, obviously, if you are reading on a Kindle or Ereader.  That would be asking for trouble.)

Finally, and still in the ‘historical’ genre though in a totally different vein, The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh is a huge book in both size and scope.  Telling the story of 4 generations of family, it starts in Burma in the 1800’s and travels to India, Singapore and back, with its beautifully drawn characters playing out their lives against a backdrop of turmoil and change.

And what am I starting today? Well, I’m cracking open two new books: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Turner, which apparently is as good if not better than ASOIAF and Hunger Games, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which is a thriller.  I’ll report back shortly with how they both were.  Now it’s over to you lot… I don’t care whether you know what a Bildungsroman novel is (Nick-from-the-upstairs-flat doesn’t know, and he’s a Shakespearian scholar!) or whether your latest fav read won the Orange prize.  I do want to know which book is going to make me miss my tube stop though…

Oh, and p.s – many of the links in this post are to buying books through The Hive Network, which is a brilliant idea and allows you to buy online and collect from local independent bookstores.  I’ll be using them until Amazon start ponying up the cash for their tax bill.

We’d love to hear your recommendations for 2013 – perhaps your favourite book of last year or a Christmas gift you enjoyed and do tell us if you have tried any of Gemma’s suggestions too!


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