Reading unfamiliar authors

…and yes, we keep our fairy lights up all year round.

Authors new to me: 11 this month, with 9 of them worth reading.

Non fiction:

Unthinkable by Helen Thomson**** Sub-title: An extraordinary journey through the world’s strangest brains. Fascinating but… The author is a neuro scientist by training and a journalist by profession. I could have done with either less or more neuro science and a lot more detailed psychology. I found the book particularly interesting when it dealt with aspects of synesthesia which I have to a certain extent. Now I think I know why I can’t watch violent films. (This was a requested birthday present for my husband.)

The Prosecutor by Nazir Afzal**** Fascinating autobiographical account of Afzal’s life which recounts the setting up and growth of the Crown Prosecution Service. As a lawyer by training and as a resident of Greater Manchester where Afzal saw the retirement end of a long and illustrious career, I was looking forward to this book and thrilled when it went into e-book format. It did not disappoint – but I could have done with a timeline because Afzal’s account of events is sometimes confusing.

Science for Hippies by Tom Thumb*** I assume it’s a pen name… Well written explanation of why people should not believe things like anti-vax conspiracies. However, I was not the target audience. Husband thought it was useful (it was bought by him) but then he has friends who believe in conspiracies of one kind or another whereas I don’t. If you do have friends, family or neighbours who need to listen to rational arguments this is for you. It is good, in that it doesn’t start from the premise that people might be stupid and it doesn’t preach.

Beginner Diwali Burfi Recipes by Monica Sawyer – stars on hold till I’ve tried some, but the instructions are clear and look easy enough.

Speculative and paranormal general fiction

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1) by NK Jemisin*** SF/fantasy which I bought partly because it had a black author and I and others were trying to promote them, but also because it had awards and rave reviews. Brilliant world building and the story is absorbing with nteresting and subtle social commentary. However, as with a lot of general SF, it has two dimensional characters – despite one thread being written in second person(which is quite hard to read and must be very hard to write). I might get the sequel.

The Tunnels Below by Nadine Wild-Palmer.** This got rave reviews as a book for teens that incorporated diversity. Yes, there were, as reviewers said, ‘vibes of Neil Gaiman and Lewis Carroll’ but the writing is second rate, the plot is derivative and the characters were mostly annoying. If you have teens, point them at e.g. Gaiman’s Neverwhere before they read this. And at Terry Pratchett’s Dodger. (Then get them to compare…)

Speculative and paranormal mm fiction

An Irregular Arrangement by AL Lester***** Short story introducing the author’s ‘border universe’. Intriguing, quirky and very well written. The Fog of War***** is the first full length novel in the series which I will definitely be following. There are both mm and ff pairings,

Medium to Well by Edie Montreux*** A medium helps to tone down a haunting. Rather repetitive at times as if the author didn’t quite believe the reader would recall the previous chapters.

Red’s Wolf by Beth Laycock*** Nicely told modern version of Red Riding Hood set just north of Manchester. Could have done with being longer.

Master of Hounds by RA Steffan** (Book1) If I hadn’t had so many recs from friends I might have abandoned this. The story is nice enough (mm romance in a fantasy kingdom) but the world building is very poor and all the myriad minor characters are completely two dimensional stereotypes. I won’t be continuing.

Historical mm fiction

The Ballad of Crow and Sparrow by VI Locey**** Western with nice detail about life in the wilderness in the nineteenth century.

Just a little wickedness by Merry Farmer*** Poor editing, Americanisms and some plot holes. But the basic story – a viscount/valet romance in the Victorian era, mixed with the ‘modern’ slave trade (children) was enough to keep me reading. I won’t, however, be looking for this author again.

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