So … I'll try not to use the C-word, but in the past week I've started to see posts and videos with recommendations of people's favourite books to make you smile, laugh and escape while we wait for things to stop being so crazy. With that in mind, I wanted to highlight a few authors, books and publishers that I've been loving across various genres (including this one above, though I'm currently halfway through so thought I'd give it an honourable mention)
I've put together a list of ten books, so I hope you find something that interests you and you can find a new story to escape into for a few days. I know that some sites like amazon are restricting their non-essential products and sadly the publishing world is in need of some support, so where I can I've added links to either the publisher or author website. Some links are through hive.co.uk which helps deliver online from independent bookshops. In no particular order …
'Half Wild' by Robin MacArthur (published by Ecco / Harper Collins) is a short story collection which focuses on various characters in Vermont, '...adolescent girls, ageing hippies, hardscrabble farmers, disconnected women, and solitary men …' who all live between civilisation and the wild. It's a wonderfully quirky look at humanity, loveliness and nature. I adored this collection and would recommend for anyone who has limited time to read or struggling with focus at the moment, as the stories are fairly short. Click here for more info.
If you're anything like me, stressful times will lead you towards a light hearted, heart-warming choice of book. Veronica Henry is an author that I often turn to when that mood takes me - 'A Family Recipe' (published by Corgi) is based around Laura Griffin, a mum and wife whose marriage takes a turn that she doesn't expect. From that, she finds herself and her happiness through cooking. If, like me, you love a culinary themed novel then you'll love this. Available on hive - click here.
'Violet' by SJI Holliday is an incredible novel that I was lucky enough to be invited to review for Orenda (a publisher that I love) a while ago. It's a thriller based around two young women who are traveling the world by train. There's suspense, there's mystery, there's toxic friendship and there's also a wonderful sense of anticipation and adventure as the author paints each place the women visit so that you can imagine yourself there with them. There are dark elements within the story, but it's a great book to escape into. Available through Waterstones - click here.
Staying on a darker theme, I read 'Verity' (self published from Colleen Hoover) recently and it completely shook me. One of those thrillers that creeps into your mind and plays with it, this has a literary theme as the main character is invited to stay a the home of a family whose mum is severely injured and unable to finish a book in a successful series. The premise pulled me in from the outset, but what happens after that is best left for the reader to discover … if you like dark and twisted tales sometimes, then give this a go. Click here to find the book on Colleen Hoover's website.
On a lighter note, I offer you a young adult novella told with graphic novel elements - 'Night of Cake and Puppets' is based on arguably two of my favourite characters from Laini Taylor's 'Daughter of Smoke and Bone' trilogy. I loved that series, and it was only last year that I realised this novella existed; it tells the story of Zuzana and Mik and an evening that the trilogy suggested but was never recounted. This little book is delightfully written, beautifully illustrated and will not fail to put a smile on your face. If you haven't read the trilogy and enjoy young adult urban fantasy … your welcome. You'll find the novella at Waterstones - click here for more info.
Having been a fan of Mel and Sue since the days of Light and Late Lunch, I couldn't resist the audiobook of this last year. It's exactly what I'd hoped it would be - endearing, self-deprecating and of course hilarious. In it, Sue Perkins recaptures and describes various anecdotes from her childhood and early days working with Mel, and I would highly recommend it for some comedic light relief at the moment. Click here for buying options through Penguin.
Now, if you've followed my blog for a while, you won't be surprised to find this one here. I count myself lucky to know the author (online of course, as we're from different corners of the world) as a fellow indie, and am in awe of her use of emotion and subtlety in this series. 'Behind Our Lives' is the first book in a trilogy that follows Lincoln and Kali and how their story develops. The writing is delicious, the characters real and the emotion deep. I adored this book and the ones that followed and I urge you to pick it up if you want to lose yourself in fiction. Check out Charlene's website here.
Another author who leaves me in awe with their words - Jen Campbell is an author and poet that I discovered on her YouTube channel a few years ago. She is an incredibly intelligent and inspiring lady and she writes fantastic books; I've loved her short stories (I'm the proud owner of a signed copy of 'The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night' and my nieces have made friends with Franklyn, the wonderful dragon from the children's series she has created with illustrator Katie Harnett. 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' is what I've chosen for this list - mainly because it made me laugh out loud, and I think we could all use that at the moment - which is a short book published by Constable, which gives anecdotes from her time working as a bookseller, and I think it's great. Plus she rocks some very cool dungarees and headscarves which is awesome. Check out Jen's website here.
'The 24-Hour Cafe' by Libby Page is another that I was lucky enough to be able to promote on a blog tour earlier this year. Published by Orion, this book is set in a cafe in London and follows Hannah and Mona as they navigate life sharing a flat and alternating shifts. The chapters take you through a full day and spend time on various customers as well our two waitresses. The novel is light, engrossing and touches on the wonders of humanity, which I think we could all use just now. The book is available through the publisher's website here.
For my last choice, I'm going to mention another indie author whom I find extremely inspiring. Sarra Cannon became known to me through her YouTube channel Heart Breathings, where she offers advice to other authors about what she's learnt over the years. I watched her channel for a while before deciding to give her first series a try - I don't read a lot of young adult fantasy, but I do admit to enjoying paranormal TV series like Vampire Diaries and Buffy the Vampire Diaries. I was intrigued by the idea of Harper, the main character who had been in care and who we find out from the blurb has 'extraordinary powers'. I love a witchy theme in a novel, so I was in and it's such an enjoyable read - I've read the first two books now and I know Sarra is planning to finish the Shadow Demons series on, I believe, it's twelfth book this year so I'm excited to have so much of the plot to discover. Perfect for a fun reading binge while we're all spending time at home … the first three eBooks are available free so check her out here.
Okay, so there are my recommendations for books to read when we all need a bit of a mood lift. A lot of us turn to books to provide solace, laughter and escape. I hope you have found something here of interest. If you have any recommendations of similar books to the ones I've mentioned, please get in touch on social media. If you're an author or publisher who would like to get in touch about a book that you would like to be reviewed, please use the email form on the 'contact' tab of my website.
Let's be kind, compassionate and help each other through this tough time. Happy reading :)