In July 2014 I decided to try writing a blog. I’ve been reading books since as early as I can remember, and have I to be the very definition of a bookworm. I can remember times in my life by what books I was reading, or what author or genre was my favourite. So I decided to share my thoughts on what I read.
That first blog was titled My Life In Books, and I used it as an introduction to show people who I was, and what I was reading at different points in my life.
I read that blog back recently and realised how much my views on reading have changed since I wrote it, and how my reading habits have changed.
So it’s about time for an update
One of the biggest things that stood out for me was how I said that I liked authors that only published every 18 months or so. I even said that authors who were publishing 2 or more books a year couldn’t be writing anything good.
HOW WRONG could I have been. My favourite author at the moment is Angela Marsons. Angela is a woman that has been writing for years, but like many, was having trouble getting published. Bookouture stood up and took a chance on her, and I was lucky enough to read the first DI Kim Stone book, Silent Scream, as soon as it was published in 2015. It was about a ballsy young woman who had had a terrible childhood. Her mother was abusive, her brother was killed, and she ended up being passed around foster families and children’s homes. As a young woman she joined the Police and now investigates major crimes across the Black Country. I have read and loved every book in this series and number eleven was published late last year. Yes that’s right, about 3 a year, and they are all brilliant. It just goes to show how wrong I was. Oh, and she’s just sold her 4 millionth copy, so I’m not the only one that likes them.
I mentioned, in that first blog, about how a Kindle let me find books by authors I had never heard of. Well writing this blog has taken that to a new level. In that first blog I said how much I enjoyed the Harry Potter books, but that I just couldn’t face reading anything that J.K Rowling had written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith. A woman called Sophie at The Crime Vault read this and sent me a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first in the Cormaran Strike books. I loved it and my second blog was a review of that book.
That is how it started, now I’ve reviewed well over 300 books, a lot of which have been sent to me by publishers as ARC’s or Advanced Readers Copy. I’m lucky to get books a couple of months before they’re published so that my review can be used as part of the publicity drive, if it gets a favourable review, and believe me not all of them do.
My work life has changed. I now lecture to people all over the UK and occasionally abroad. The increase in travel time has led me to listening to audio books when I travel, most of these books are factual accounts of events or biographies. The best of these, so far, has been Colin Sutton’s account of the investigation he lead into the arrest and conviction of Levi Bellfield. I’d seen the TV adaption and decided to listen to the actual book, Manhunt. It is stunning.
Another excellent audiobook is
Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepard. An autobiographical account of a Home Office Pathologist and his work, which has included some of the most horrific murders, and disasters of the recent years. It pulled no punches in the way it described the scenes, but more significantly, it pulled no punches in describing the effects it had on Dr Shepard’s mental health, and the way it affected his family. These are two books that all crime fiction addicts should read, or listen to, to show the real consequences carried by the people who are involved in real world incidents and investigations.
My blog has also introduced me to a lot of authors, some I’ve built up a friendship with, even if it is only in the modern day way of social media. Some have come to me for advice when they’re writing scenes which include fires, and I’ve been in quite a few acknowledgements at the end of books.
The other thing the blog is helping me with is remembering what I’m reading. I love my Kindle but it opens to the page I’m on. I never see book covers anymore. So when somebody says what are you reading, I very often can’t remember the title, the author yes, the title no. The screen shot of the cover I put on the blog is my link to the book, and the way I remember it after I’ve read it. Kindle please show the book cover when I wake my device, then go to the last page I read.
The other thing that has changed is that I am getting ARCs from publishers for new authors who have written their debut book. It’s not often that a book has the impact that Noelle Holten’s Dead Inside did last year. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that was written so well, with such a deep understanding and empathy of the crimes involved. It was my book of the year last year. I’ve just read the next in the series Dead Wrong, and it left me literally breathless at the end. It’s published soon so watch out for the review.
So in the last 5 years my reading habits have changed to include audiobooks, which I now wouldn’t travel without. I have come to understand authors better and lost my prejudice against authors that publish multiple titles a year. I’m on publishers lists to send advanced copies to, and post reviews that are read by people all around the world. I have authors contacting me for advice, I still can’t believe that, and love the fact that I help in a little way to bring a story to life.
The best thing though, the best thing by far, is this blog has taken my enjoyment of reading to another level. Books were never boring but I did have difficulty finding titles I wanted to read, because I was set in my ways. Now my horizons have been broadened and I am reading some great books I never would have even heard of before.