2013 has been a fantastic year for me. Through my work with Triskele Books and Words with Jam magazine, over the past twelve months, I’ve been blessed to read and review some excellent books, plus interview some super names – not to mention idols of my own – in the literary world.
Here are a selection of my favourites of 2013.
- FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR
PETER MAY – THE LEWIS TRILOGY
When I say new author, I mean new to me. There’s still no greater thrill than discovering a new name in a genre you love. One of my Triskele colleagues, Kat Troth, recommended May’s writing. Knowing my love of crime and strong locations, she thought I’d appreciate his Lewis trilogy, and she was spot on. Made up of The Lewis Man, The Black House & The Chess Men. Set on the remote Hebrides islands, where the author spent a few years of his life and grew to know and love its customs and landscapes, he creates an excellent central character in Detective Inspector Fin Macleod. The whole trilogy keeps you riveted and takes many number of twists and turns using local people and landscapes to wonderful effect. My personal favourite of the three books is The Lewis Man. I’ve since been lucky enough to interview Peter May and his passion for his craft is refreshing. I can’t wait to read his latest novel, Entry Island.
- FAVOURITE INTERVIEW
WORDS WITH JAM (OCTOBER) with IAN RANKIN
With the release of his nineteenth Rebus novel in November this year, I was privileged to interview Scottish crime writer, Ian Rankin. Rankin is one of a new generation of writers whose work I have long admired, it was great to discover he’s such a laid back and talented man as I’d always imagined. Link to my interview with Ian … http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk/2013/10/ian-rankin-in-conversation-with-gillian.html
- FAVOURITE CRIME NOVEL
DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY by PD JAMES
This is a bit of a twist because the reason I adore this book is because it’s actually a ‘cross genre’ novel – crime mixed with historical fiction – something I’ve attempted with my first three novels. Plus it came from a writer known only for her work in crime fiction. The fact that she took one her personal loves, the writing of Jane Austen, and added a crime thread with such successful results is a wonderful achievement. I adored the book. Six years on from Pride & Prejudice, Elizabeth and Darcy are married with a child of their own when murder comes to their family home. Highly recommended. I also got chance this year to interview PD James who does very little publicity and has been a life long hero of mine. Link to the interview … http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk/2013/08/best-selling-authors-pd-james-peter-may.html
- FAVOURITE NON-CRIME NOVEL
THE GOLDFINCH by DONNA TARTT
True, I still read more crime fiction than anything else, but occasionally I do take the plunge and try new genres, usually after recommendations by fellow writers whose judgements I trust. Sometimes my choices are excellent (I now adore Margaret Atwood, Sarah Waters, Kate Mosse, Steph Penney) and sometimes less successful. This year I’ve read a lot of historical fiction, including Bernard Cornwell and Michael Faber, but my favourite literary read of the year is a book I’m still to complete – but almost don’t want to hurry as I don’t want the book to come to an end! Reportedly, it took ten years to write and whilst it was hugely anticipated, this novel is no disappointment. From the early pages, the novel grabs hold of your heart and refuses to let go. The narrator, Theo Decker, is a complex character and as his story unwinds between New York and Amsterdam, between present and past, we examine his life and the cloak of grief that weighs him down. Soon we learn to understand why he needs his talisman, The Goldfinch, at his side.
- FAVOURITE INDEPENDENTLY PUBLISHED NOVEL
FERAL YOUTH by POLLY COURTNEY
As Triskele become more involved with indie publishing, through the likes of the Alliance of Independent Authors, I find opportunity to read more indie-published books of superb quality. This book was the highlight of those in 2013 for me. I’m not sure what I was expecting from the novel. But I know what I wasn’t expecting. That is the emotive rollercoaster I experienced. For someone who admittedly sometimes takes a narrow view on life, it was a learning curve to have the world shifted on its axis and see events such as the ‘Blackberry riots’ through another person’s eyes and an opposite point of view. I’m sure I closed the last page a different person, and there’s not many books can make that boast. A delicate subject handled by the talents and skill of Polly Courtney is a must read and I very much look forward to her next novel.
- FAVOURITE REVIEW OF BOOK NOT YET RELEASED
SPILT MILK by AMANDA HODGKINSON
Hugely proud to have played a tiny part in the creation of Amanda’s follow up to the worldwide success of her debut novel, 22 Britannia Road. I’ve read numerous drafts of Spilt Milk, and I know it’s not all been plain sailing for Amanda to get the story of three generations of the same family to come together as she wished. But the final result is stunning. Release date is February 2014. I can’t wait to see the finished version in print, and for anyone who wants a sneaky peak, Amanda will be guesting on the Triskele Book Club in March.
For everyone who has taken an interest in my writing and has followed my blog through 2013, may I wish you a happy, healthy and successful 2014.
Keep reading …. and writing!