Books ‘n More Books—and a Giveaway!

Kathleen Delaney with Books 2Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today with her thoughts on some of the books she’s read and enjoyed in 2014.

Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. PureBred Dead, the first in a new series, will be out in the spring of 2015.

It’s over. Presents have been unwrapped, the last of the turkey has been consumed, the eggnog is gone, and tomorrow we celebrate a New Year by taking down the tree as we watch parades and football. The New Year opens before us, we have make good resolutions, most of which we know we won’t keep, but we’ll try as we attempt to make this year a good one.

One of the most popular presents given recently seem to be gift cards. The sales that started the day after Thanksgiving have taken on an even greater intensity now Christmas has come and gone and merchants want to get rid of all that merchandise that didn’t sell. The bargains are tempting. So, are you going shopping? Or perhaps you’d prefer to use those cards to truly indulge yourself. You’re going to buy books. Only, which ones? Maybe I can help.

I don’t do reviews, and am not going to now. However, I do read a lot, and thought I’d share a few books I’ve read this year I really enjoyed and am glad I own. Well, I don’t own them all. I bought a lot of them as Christmas presents, and we all know you can’t give a book you haven’t read. There are many more good books out this year than the ones I mention here, but hopefully these will give you a few ideas.

Elizabeth 1, by Margaret George is a fictional version of the last years of Elizabeth 1’s life and it’s as big and powerful as the lady was herself. It’s a compelling novel, full of romance, intrigue, adventure, and betrayal and it’s all true. A monumental work, impossible to put down. Also impossible to read in bed. It’s over 600 pages, but don’t let that stop you. This is a wonderful book.

Three novels of suspense I particularly liked were all written by women, who at one time were considered incapable of writing this type of story. If that theory needed proving untrue, these three did it, and beautifully.

Jenny Milchman, Ruin Falls, absorbing, suspenseful, terrifying at times. This is her 2nd novel. She keeps getting better.

Julia Dahl, Invisible City. Set in NY’s Hasidic community, its’ rich in suspense while handling complex characters with insight and compassion. This is her first novel. I hope it won’t be the last.

Hank Phillippi Ryan, Truth Be Told. Already has won Library Journal’s Best of 2014, and I agree. It’s a Jane Ryland novel, full of twists and turns, explores the ethics of the journalists’ world (yes, they do have ethics) as well as being a gripping tale of suspense. A terrific read.

We can’t leave out the guys and at least one of them gave us a book that is smart, funny with just the right touch of romance, and delightfully reminiscent of James Herriot. I read the review of Dog Gone, Back Soon, by Nick Trout on this blog, bought the book, and am very glad I did. Which brings me to another topic.

How do you find these books? How do you search through the piles of books in Barns and Noble, to find the one you really want to take home? Or the smaller piles at your local bookshop? Actually, that’s easier. They can tell you a lot about the books, and once you get to talking, they’ll put one in your hands you’ll just love. But if you don’t have an independent book seller close by, and chances are you don’t, how do you go about sorting it all out? By publisher? By on line book reviews? By blogs such as this one? Yes.

Look at the publisher of the book you just finished. Then go onto that publisher’s web site and see what else they are offering. Chances are, you’ll find another one you’ll enjoy. Books are pretty subjective and publishers, as well as readers, tend to pick books with certain characteristics. I don’t mean the books are all the same, but if you start to pay attention to publishers, you’ll find they tend to publish books that appeal to readers with certain tastes. Look for the house that appeals to yours and roam their web site Murder by Syllabuboften. On line book reviews, yes. But be selective. Anyone can write a review but they are not all objective informed reviews. I’ve read reviews, of my books and others, where I wasn’t sure the reviewer and I were talking about the same book. If you sample enough of them you’ll soon learn which ones are objective, thoughtful reviews that don’t give away the ending. Blogs, absolutely. This one is excellent, and there are others. Pay attention to them, and then pick out a few you like for whatever reason.

Go talk to your librarian, to your local bookseller, join a book discussion group, ask your friends at the gym what they’re reading, if they like the book and why. Many of them have read something recently and they’ll all have an opinion on it. It may not be the same as yours, but it can be another book to explore. You’ll find some stinkers, but some gems as well.

I’ve left out a lot of books I liked, many of them mysteries but by no means all. It would take more space than I have to talk about all of them. Then there are the “self published” books. Some are outstanding, some not so much. We’ll talk about this difficult subject in another blog.

And, please, keep up with the web site of authors you’ve enjoyed. How many times have you read a book, liked it, started to tell someone about it and couldn’t remember the author’s name? Lots, I’ll bet. So, write down the name of the authors you like, then pay them a visit. They all have web sites, blogs, have Facebook and Twitter accounts. “Like” or follow them. Believe me, they’ll like or follow you right back, and you’ll find out when their next book is due in a bookstore near you.

Happy New Year, and Happy Reading.

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To enter the drawing for a print copy of
Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney,
leave a comment below with one or more
book recommendations. The winning name
will be drawn Friday evening, January 2nd.
This drawing is open to residents of the US.