While I was doing the final editing for my most recent novel, Last Child, I made a decision. I would not write in December. The two novels and one novella I am gagging to write can wait until the new year.
This decision was partly provoked by the general lack of housework done recently (when you've been saying "I must give that kitchen a real thorough clean" for two months, you know you really must), the amount of times I'd told my husband I would do a,b and c "as soon as I've sent Last Child off for proofreading", but mostly because of my 'to read' list, which now covers two sheets of A4.
So, on November 23rd, I officially became an Avid Reader! I read a book, I review it straight away while it's still in my head, and move on to the next. You know what? I'm loving it. I haven't given myself all this reading time for years, not since I started writing again in 2010, after a break of (too long), and it's great. No more do I think, "yes, I could read a bit of that book I've had on the go for three weeks, or I could edit Chapter Nine." I'd usually go with the latter. Now, my business of the day has become reading.
In the last three weeks I have read no less than twelve books. Well, twelve and a half, actually; as soon as I have written this post I shall go back to KILLING INSTINCT by Darcia Helle, which is bloody terrific - it's a murder/thriller type thing about two hit men who uncover an organisation that facilitates its clients most depraved fantasies. I bought the book ages ago because I read about it in one of those '50 indie books worth reading' posts. If I hadn't taken this month off, I might never have got round to finding out how good it is. Incidentally, clicking on the title of each book I've mentioned will take you to its Amazon UK page. That's the title, not the book cover!
I've read some I knew would be terrific - HONOUR AND OBEY by Carol Hedges, for instance, the Victorian murder mystery follow up to Diamonds and Dust, which I thought was excellent, and the sequel is even better. Then there's another chapter in the life of Val Poore, AFRICAN WAYS, about the three years in the 1980s when she and her family lived up a mountain in South Africa. I've read Val's books about life on the waterways of Holland, so I knew I would love this too. My favourite genre overall is historical fiction; the first book of my readathon (!!) was the 17th century THE GILDED LILY by Deborah Swift, which I liked so much I bought another book by her straight away.
I always read on my Nexus, on which I have the Kindle App. I've come to appreciate this thing more and more, and actually prefer it to paperbacks. I love how I can just finish one and select the next. Yes, I've abandoned some, but I've made myself a vow to read to at least 10% before I decide if a book's not for me. If I can't give a good 3* I won't review, simply because I won't have read the book. So far I've only abandoned four, one of which I may give another go, because sometimes you can just be in the wrong mood for a certain type of book.
I've surprised myself by discovering genres I didn't think I'd like. Fantasy? Magic? I always thought I began and ended with Game of Thrones. But combine it with history and you have the excellent COURT OF CONSPIRACY by April Taylor. I'm promising myself the next one in the series soon!
Other books I've given a well deserved 4* to are:
PATTERN OF SHADOWS by Judith Barrow (WW2 family drama)
BECOMING BEAUTY by Sarah Boucher (fairytale retelling)
LUKE'S #1 RULE by Cynthia Harrison (family drama/addiction)
MADE IN NASHVILLE by Mandy Baggot (country music scene romance)
SHEER FEAR by Geoff West (crime/child abuse cover up)
But now I must tell you about my Big Discovery!
Which is Dylan Morgan. You know how great it is when you find a new writer and think, I am going to love everything this person produces? Dylan writes horror, but not overly blood and gore stuff, more like Stephen King, including the totally brilliant THE DEAD LANDS ~ a post apocalyptic thriller.
I didn't even know I liked this sort of book until I read it. I loved it so much I keep boring people with how good it is, and straight after I'd read it I bought another of his, FLESH, abandoned my reading list and got stuck in straight away - it was just as good! I'll be reading his whole catalogue before too long, including the vampire ones - she says tentatively... vampires stories are usually down in the 'genres I only read if I really must', like chick lit and comedy sci-fi. I bet I'll still like it, though. I won't rave on about Mr Morgan any more, though, in case I embarrass him - I'll just advise you to read my reviews of the books on the Amazon pages, and BUY one!
At the end of the year I'm going to do a Top 20 rundown of my favourite books of the year - now I'd better get stuck in, as I am determined to read at least eight more.