Category Archives: Tess Gerritsen

Die Again – Tess Gerritsen

I have broken with tradition and indeed broken one of my own rules. I like to read a series of books in order yet have made an exception by devouring the latest Tess Gerritsen novel, Die Again, before having read the two before it – I like to space out my favourite series in case they suddenly stop or take a while for the next one to come out. I must admit that I was slightly worried this might mean I may miss something along the way yet it proved that whilst a story runs through all the Rizzoli and Isles novels they all actually can stand alone and are all completely gripping…

Bantam Press, hardback, 2015, fiction, 330 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

In Die Again, the eleventh outing for Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr Maura Isles, we are initially given two stories. Firstly we are miles away from the duo’s home of Boston and find ourselves on a safari trip in Botswana. Here a group of relative strangers, though they include a couple and two best friends, are out to have an adventure in the wilds camping amongst the animals. Things soon take a much darker turn as something or someone starts picking them off one by one. Back in Boston Jane Rizzoli is called to the home of Leon Gott where the owner, a well known hunter and taxidermist, has been horrifically killed rather like a predator might kill its prey in the wild. As Jane and Maura start working together, with some tension between them, it soon appears this might not be a singular incident for the killer. How are the two stories connected? You will have to read the book to find out of course!

I am a huge fan of this series and in Die Again Tess Gerritsen reminds me of why. First there is the way, which I think has become more prevalent and more cunning as the series has gone on, that she will set you up with two stories that couldn’t be less connected if they tried, then slowly drips us information (making us feel super clever, often before she throws in a twist to flummox us) that make the two tales connect. Never to the point where you could easily guess the killer though, which I think makes these novels all the cleverer.

She also finds some subject that oddly often I find fascinating too anyway; like mummies, cults etc (just to name two of my favourites so far) and looks at them in more depth finding out even more fascinating facts that you can regal to your partner/work colleagues/strangers on a train making you seem all the more intelligent. In Die Again the subject is big cats, leopards in particular, and who doesn’t love big cats?

She thought of the cat in her own home, and how it watched her as intensely as this cougar was doing now. The connection between felines and humans was more complex than between a mere predator and prey. A house cat might sit in your lap and eat from your hand, but it still had the instincts of a hunter.
As do we.

The other thing that, for me, sets Tess Gerritsen’s novels apart from many crime series, and also makes me so addicted to them, is the macabre. Now I am not a psycho but I find the human body fascinating, be it alive or be it dead. In Gerritsen’s novels a lot of what we learn about the murders is from the victims and their anatomies as Dr Maura Isles is a forensic pathologist. This might not be for everyone but I just find it genuinely and grimly fascinating (though my dream job is to be a forensic psychologist if I could afford to go to University – any mystery benefactors please do get in touch) and in this series there have been some amazing macabre moments (what looks like a hit and run but has too much of a splat impact/an Egyptian Mummy which has a much fresher body inside it than it should) and Die Again is no exception. Death is after all every person’s final story.

The nude man hung upside down, his ankles bound with orange nylon cord. Like a pig carcass hanging in a slaughterhouse, his abdomen had been sliced open, the cavity stripped of all organs. Both arms dangled free, and the hands would have almost touched the floor – if the hands had still been attached. If hunger had not forced Bruno the dog, and maybe the two cats as well, to start gnawing the flesh of their owner.

While all this horror, notably caused by humans, is played out there are some moments of light. There is the camaraderie between Jane and Maura, which can often be tested or get testy, and their often dark sense of humour, come on if you worked doing what they do you would need a laugh. Giving the novels that extra punch too are the stories of their lives. Jane now married with children and all that brings, Maura and her situation as a single woman… now with a cat, and both of their pasts which have moments of darkness that linger. I can’t speak for everyone but when I pick up a thriller I want something dark, creepy and chilling to escape into in the safety of my own home (even if I have to check under the bed and in the wardrobes before I go to sleep) and Tess Gerritsen does this every time without fail.

I thoroughly enjoyed Die Again and read it in just two sittings. Both the narratives in Boston and Botswana had me hooked, I felt clever when I connected them and then more than happy to be given a final twist I didn’t see coming at the end. I am now really, really keen to head back and read both The Silent Girl and Last To Die playing catch up with Rizzoli and Isles especially as I know there will be a twelfth novel coming in the not too distant future, long may they continue.

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In case you are wondering why I broke with tradition and read the latest book before the others, I was super duper lucky to meet Tess of a lunchtime last week to have a natter about Die Again and much more, some of which I recorded for You Wrote The Book so do have a listen. Who else out there is a big fan of the Rizzoli and Isles novels? Who has yet to read them? Which are your favourite crime series and why?

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Filed under Bantam Press, Books of 2015, Review, Rizzoli and Isles, Tess Gerritsen

The Killing Place – Tess Gerritsen

Anyone who knows me or has been following Savidge Reads for any length of time will probably know by now that I am a big fan of Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles novels. That said though, because I am such a fan of them, I read them rather sparingly. However the other day when I was feeling in a slight bookish lull, aware I wanted something crime filled and thrilling yet familiar it seemed like it was time to catch up with the eighth in the series ‘The Killing Place’, or ‘Ice Cold’ as its titled abroad, and so I sat down and devoured the book in two sittings, starting one evening and finishing the following morning. They are utterly compelling.

Bantam Press, hardback, 2010, fiction, 322 pages, kindly sent by the publisher

Dr Maura Isles, who you will know by now if you have been reading the series a while, leaves Boston for a medical conference in Wyoming where, needing a change of scene from the disastrous love affair with Father Daniel Brophy, she meets up with an old college acquaintance, Doug, and decides on the spur of the moment (not something a control freak like Maura normally does) to join him, his daughter and friends on a skiing trip for the weekend. Alas the spontaneous adventure takes a darker twist when a sudden snow storm descends and the motley crew end up stranded in the middle of nowhere with a broken down car… Until they spot Kingdom Come a seemingly abandoned settlement of part of a religious group. At first they think they have found their salvation, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.

To give anything else away after this would be to ruin all the wonderful, and truly gripping, twists and turns that Gerritsen will delight you with as ‘The Killing Place’ continues. I was one hundred percent gripped from the start of the book until the very end which I didn’t see turning out the way it did, though knowing Tess Gerritsen’s other books I should have known there is always an added twist or two to any of her tales. Before I carry on raving about the book I should throw in a few slight issues I had with it. Firstly was one of the character names. I won’t say who ‘Rat’ is in the story, as he is quite pivotal, but having that as his name very nearly broke the spell for me. I simply couldn’t get my head around it initially however I carried on as the story was just too good. Secondly I did get a little lost at one point which doesn’t usually happen. Rare for me to say it but about a quarter of the way through too much seemed to happen at once. I was delighted there were so many threads to the novel but for a chapter or two I did find myself thinking ‘hang on a minute… what?’ This did pass though and suddenly all made sense.

What I did really like about this book, and I have noticed this more and more as the series has progressed, is that Gerritsen uses the situations she puts Rizzoli and Isles, or the crimes they investigate, Isles being the Medical Examiner to Rizzoli’s detective, to talk about issues. As the series has gone on its has remained a brilliant set of thrilling crime novels but they have become less slasher and more psychological. In the case of ‘The Killing Place’ the theme is about religious sects and how they are, and aren’t, controlled and how this effects the people in them and outside of them.

I also like to think that these books make me slightly more clever, in a fun if grisly way, as Gerritsen is/was a doctor and so when awful things happen to the victims I find myself learning all sorts of scientific words and phrases I would never normally learn but can now use at will. I am dying to throw organophosphate into a conversation over dinner sometime soon.

‘Pasternak said, “How sure are you that this organophosphate stuff is what we are dealing with?”
   “It will need to be confirmed by the tox report. But the clinical picture is classic. Gruber responded to atropine. And a STAT blood test showed a significant drop in cholinesterase activity. Again, that’s something you’d find with organophosphate poisoning.”’

I highly recommend ‘The Killing Place’, it will grip you from the start and (cliché alert, yet true) have you hooked turning the pages until the small hours. I also think that being more of an Isles story and out of its usual setting of Boston this could be a good place to start the series randomly, unless you are like me and simply have to read everything in order. ‘The Killing Place’ is also a great example of a thriller that deals with issues of our times and leaves you thinking with the questions it asks. Oh, one final thing though, I hope the next book is about the random body that Rizzoli finds in a dead (natural causes) old ladies storage unit. I was really grimly fascinated by that and then Rizzoli went off in search of Maura, I felt that was ‘to be continued…’

Who else is a Rizzoli and Isles fan? Are you a fan of the TV series, I am! Which is your favourite of the books, which would you recommend to a new to Gerritsen reader? Have you read any of the non Rizzoli and Isles tales and if so what did you make of those?

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Filed under Bantam Press, Review, Rizzoli and Isles, Tess Gerritsen

Oh Tess, Look What You Made Me Do…

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog of late and I don’t actually have the excuse that I have been busy reading instead because really I haven’t. I’ve just been busy with other non bookish bits and bobs. This of course leads me to frustration when I look at the pile of books that surround me in my book den, and then when temptation hit I was most furious with myself as the latest book I have just finished (insert a dun, dun, dun noise now)… Was on a kindle!

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It is all the fault of Tess Gerritsen and the fact that ‘Freaks’ is only available as an e-book. If the story hadn’t been so good, review soon, then I might not have been able to ever forgive her. Fortunately I have. I haven’t bought a kindle though, and have now deleted the app from my phone too! So not converted, just diverted.

What have you all been reading of late? What else have you been upto?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Tess Gerritsen

Keeping the Dead – Tess Gerritsen

In my book thoughts yesterday I mentioned how that book had appealed to me because as a child I really liked fairy stories. Well, something must be in the air because one of the reasons that I utterly loved ‘Keeping the Dead’ by Tess Gerritsen, or ‘The Keepsake’ as its known on some international shores, was the fact that it started with a tale of mummies and dusty old museums, something else I was fascinated by as a kid. I am wondering what is making me want to read books which have, for me not anyone else, such links with my childhood and my first early reading days. That could start a whole post of its own, so let’s get back to the book in hand.

Bantam Books, paperback, 2009, fiction, 448 pages, from personal TBR

Madam X is the talk of the town as ‘Keeping The Dead’ opens, though she is not initially (oh how things change) as salacious as she sounds. In fact she is an ancient mummy who has been unearthed in the archives of one of Boston’s biggest, if longest forgotten, museums. This is big news for the museum and indeed for the city and so a packed room of media and specialists, including Maura Isles, await the live X-Ray. When a filing appears on the screen they initially believe they have found a major new discovery in the field of Egyptology, who knew that the Egyptians had made these advances in dental treatment? However, when the bullet from a very modern gun appears on the screen it appears that this may have been a much more recent homicide and so Detective Jane Rizzoli is called in to investigate. Soon the Museum is searched and before long more relics are found and they appear to be much less ancient than they look. It seems someone is collection women, or bits of them and soon enough this killer strikes very close indeed.

It is an overused cliché, yet ‘Keeping the Dead’ is an incredible page turner. I read this in three sittings (all at an airport, and if you don’t love flying read a book like this, I didn’t think about landing, being in the air or taking off as I was so engrossed) during a single day. I then promptly felt guilty for devouring it so quickly when I imagine it took quite a time to write, but this was a pure reading pleasure. Well, if you can call a book about a psychopath who likes to make relics of his victims, and use ancient ways of preserving them, a pleasure that is?

‘Keeping the Dead’ is the seventh in the Rizzoli and Isles series which has made Tess Gerritsen so well known, and now of course is a major (and not to bad from what I have watched so far) TV series. It is also possibly the novel which, I think, stands alone the most if you haven’t read any of the previous novels. It’s not that Rizzoli and Isles don’t develop as characters, they just aren’t the focus of this thriller, and indeed it happens over a very short space of time, in the present day sequences, because it’s the back story that we learn as we go. So Rizzoli and Isles are necessary, and indeed it is another of their shared cases, just not on every page because the heart of the story lies elsewhere. I have heard that the next in the series ‘The Killing Place’ focuses much more on our heroines as one of them goes missing. I have had to force myself not to pick it up twice in the few weeks since I put this one down, I want to savour them.

It is always hard to try and make anyone rush out and by a crime novel when you can’t really give anything away, instead I just keep banging on and on about the series and hope that you will all take note and go and pick one up. I have been debating it a while but I think, whilst I have special memories attached with the first two; both ‘The Surgeon’ and ‘The Apprentice’ for introducing me to Rizzoli and Isles, I think that ‘Keeping The Dead’ might be my favourite one yet. They started off well,they just keep getting better and better, and more and more addictive.

Who else is a Gerritsen fan? Which of the non Rizzoli and Isles novels have you read and what did you make of them? Should I really spread out a series or just indulge when the mood takes? What do you do?

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Filed under Bantam Press, Books of 2011, Review, Rizzoli and Isles, Tess Gerritsen, Transworld Publishing

Savidge Reads Gets Criminally Star Struck

As I mentioned on my book giveaway post this week it has been a funny old one. Some of it has been a bit rubbish for various reasons but there was one HUGE highlight. I found out quite randomly that Tess Gerritsen and SJ Watson were doing an event at Bolton Library. This is something I simply couldn’t miss, no work, no health issues, nothing would stop me from going. They were in Bolton, which I thought was miles away but is actually 20mins, to discuss their books at the library, little did I know I was going to be able to meet them after and have a natter (thanks to the lovely Alison at Transworld who I also had a lovely chat or two with). I was sooo nervous.

However it was lovely…

… Even if I did get rather star struck! It is something which very rarely happens in my day job, where I do ‘showbiz interviews’ and yet when I got the chance to meet Tess I went a bit shy and suddenly didn’t know what to say. I think it’s because Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles series (which I have just noticed is one of the only series I have started since blogging) have become such favourites. I have emailed her and interviewed her via email for her Savidge Reads Grills and yet still I went really shy and quiet. She was utterly delightful, really warm and friendly, happy to sign a book for me (and one for Polly, it’s in the post, of Novel Insights who first bought me a Tess novel) and we had a lovely chat.

However it didn’t stop there as the same thing happened when I met SJ Watson. I went all nervous in part as I was a fan of his debut ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ and both he and Sarah Winman were my two first choices for the ‘debut night’ of Bookmarked Literary Salon (so imagine my joy when they both said yes) but I hadn’t taken into account I would have to meet them. I know, I know. Anyway Steve was lovely and really excited about the event and now I am quite buzzing about it all. Though now of course I am very nervous about meeting Sarah Winman… and I haven’t even begun to think about Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah coming in September. Let’s move on before the palpitations start.

It did make me wonder why meeting an author you are a big fan of can make you so nervous? We have all had a moment like this (in fact me and Novel Insights had it together last year when we met Ian McEwan and both talked gobbledygook at him, lucky man) haven’t we? Is it because there is a worry that they won’t be nice and you will never want to read a book of theirs again? Or is it simply the awe of meeting someone who has created a world, or several, that you lived and loved? What do you think? Which authors have you met and gone a bit unnecessary over?

P.S I am slightly obsessed about that first picture of Tess, Steve and me, I feel like I could be a crime writer – though I’m obviously not, but one can dream.

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness, SJ Watson, Tess Gerritsen

Savidge Reads Grills… Tess Gerritsen

When I sent Tess Gerritsen a cheeky email asking if she would please, please, please do a Savidge Reads Grills I was thrilled that she pretty instantly said yes. Ever since the lovely Novel Insights bought me ‘The Surgeon’ to read when I was having an operation a few years ago (not the wisest of timely choices, I read it when I was recovering at home rather than in the hospital) I have been gripped by the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series. As you might have seen yesterday I loved ‘The Bone Garden’ which was a departure into historical fiction. So without further ado here is Tess Gerritsen getting Savidgely Grilled…

For those people who haven’t read any of your series Isles and Rizzoli novels can you try and explain them in a single sentence?

It’s a crime series starring two very different, very capable female investigators: homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles, who are colleagues and friends.

How does each book come about?  Where are the ideas born?

I start with an idea that intrigues me, something that makes me excited to find out what happens next.  The inspirations come from different places.  Vanish, for instance, was inspired by a real case in Boston of a woman who was mistaken for dead and woke up in the morgue.  The writer in me immediately wanted to know how she ended up there, and what she did next.  ‘Body Double’ came to me while I was standing in the autopsy room and thinking: “What if I were to watch myself get autopsied?  Wouldn’t that be a horrifying thing?”  And it’s what Maura Isles almost goes through when she watches her twin sister, a sister she never knew she had, get autopsied.

How much of what we read in these books has actually been something you experienced in your career such as bodies waking up?

Thank heavens most of these tales are things I’ve NEVER experienced.  A lot of the source material is from the news, or from my voracious reading of all matter of material, from gossip magazines to scientific journals.

Has there ever been anything that completely creeped you out?

Quite often, in fact.  I am completely creeped out by shrunken heads, which is why I wrote about them in ‘Keeping The Dead’.  And autopsies although I’ve watched at least a dozen of them continue to disturb me.  I just don’t like watching them, even though they were part of my training.  Most of all, I’m creeped out by the horrifying ways that some people have expired.  In small, enclosed spaces.  In great pain.  Or in locations that are just out of reach of help.

Do you have a favourite between Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles as characters?

I love Jane Rizzoli as a role model, as a woman who is sure of herself and knows what she wants.  But I identify more with Maura Isles because of her scientific background and because I am an introvert, just like Maura.

They can be quite gory fiction in some ways; do you ever wonder if you have gone too far?

I think I pull back before I get too gory.  At least, from my point of view, I do!  I suppose there are readers who think I go over the top.  But in my books you seldom see the cruelty and depravity acted out on the page.  What I portray are the investigators coming onto the scene after the terrible acts have happened, and my investigators must piece the sequence together.  I do include details of autopsies, but I think of that as simply people doing their jobs.  It’s what I’ve seen as a doctor, and it doesn’t seem gory to me, simply clinical.

One of the many things I really love about the books is there seems to be no limits to what could happen, twins are suddenly found, people fall from planes it’s all fantastical and perfect escapism. Where do you come up with these varying twists and storylines?

I follow my instincts as a writer.  I ask myself, what’s the next intriguing, completely unexpected thing that can happen next?  And I make it happen.  I love to be surprised as a reader, and that’s what I try to do in my stories.  Keep my readers, and myself, off balance.

Your novels have become a TV series – how much involvement did you have with it? Was it hard to say yes to the project initially, because it’s something you created?

I don’t write the episodes.  “Rizzoli & Isles” has its own writing team, headed by executive producer Janet Tamaro, who wrote the pilot script.  I know Janet, and I feel perfectly comfortable shooting her an email with an idea or a suggestion, and occasionally she’ll ask for my opinion.  But it’s her baby now, and she’s managed to turn it into a hit TV show.  Although I created Jane and Maura, I’m realistic enough to know that I can’t maintain control of who they are in different media.  They’ve changed from their original book versions. As Janet likes to say, “You’re the birth mother and I’m the stepmother.  And now that they’re under my roof, they have to do what I tell them to.”

‘The Bone Garden’ was a slight change in your recent novels, what sent you off into the Victorian period? Are you planning more novels like this?

I loved writing that book.  It was inspired by some reading I’d done about childbed fever.  The details of the illness and the deaths so horrified me that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  And when I can’t stop thinking about a topic, I know it’s going to end up in a book.  Here in the US, one of the historical heroes in medicine was Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, a physician who was the first to advise American doctors (in 1843) to wash their hands before attending women in childbirth.  He was probably responsible for saving the lives of thousands of women, yet his suggestions were ignored for a decade.  I wanted to write a story set in that filthy, disease-ridden era, when women were dying in childbirth. Where doctors were labouring under antiquated ideas of science.  And where conditions for the immigrant poor were horror stories in and of themselves.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? Was it an easy thing for you to do?

I knew I was a writer when I was seven years old.  I’ve never given up the dream.  But since I come from very practical immigrant stock (Chinese) I was talked into choosing a more secure profession, medicine.  Still, that dream of being a writer never left me and when I went on maternity leave from hospital work, I wrote my first book.

How long have you been writing for? Which books and authors inspired you to write?

My first published novel, a romance, came out in 1987 (Call After Midnight).  I’ve written about a book a year ever since then.  So it’s been 23 years as a professional novelist, which makes me feel old indeed.   As for which books inspired me, I can point to the same books that so many other female mystery writers point to: the Nancy Drew mystery series.  Those books reinforced my belief that women could not only be intelligent and independent, they could also solve mysteries.  While driving their own cars and staying up past midnight!

Are there any books you wish you had written yourself?

Too many to mention!  I wish I’d written Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.  I wish I’d written Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. I wish I’d written The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Which contemporary authors do you rate who are writing right now?

I’d like to mention two debut authors, just because debut authors have a harder time getting noticed. Their books are about to come out in 2011.  The first is Taylor Stevens, whose novel ‘The Informationist’ has a smashing new heroine.  And the second is S.J. Watson, a male author who absolutely and astonishingly nails a female voice in his book ‘Before I Go To Sleep’, about a woman with a peculiar form of amnesia who must re-make her past every morning when she wakes up.

Describe your typical writing routine, do you have any writers quirks or any writing rituals?

No rituals except breakfast and coffee, and then I sit at my desk and try to write 4 good first-draft pages.  I guess the most unusual thing about me is that I write those first-draft pages with pen and paper.  I’m an old dog who just can’t learn new tricks.

What is next for Tess Gerritsen?

I’m finishing up my next Jane and Maura book, The Silent Girl, about a mysterious murder in Boston’s Chinatown.  It allows me to explore some of the Chinese folktales of my childhood.

You can find out more about Tess Gerritsen on her website and indeed read her very own blog.

I want to say a huge thanks to Tess Gerritsen as I know how busy she is and so the fact that she did this so quickly and so eagerly was lovely. It’s always nice when authors you really like to read are lovely in real life, I know it shouldn’t matter but lets be honest it does. Has this interview made you want to read more Gerritsen? Have any of you tried the novels she wrote pre-Rizzoli and Isles? I haven’t tried any yet and want to very much.

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Filed under Savidge Reads Grills..., Tess Gerritsen

The Bone Garden – Tess Gerritsen

You all probably know how much I love the books by Tess Gerritsen and you also probably know how much I love all things Victorian, so imagine if the two things were combined, it would be just the perfect read. That is exactly what ‘The Bone Garden’ is and as you might guess I won’t be recommending it to you enough. Even if you haven’t tried Gerritsen before or have never planned to give this book a whirl do give this post a read and you might just be convinced.

‘The Bone Garden’ is something a little bit different from the other Tess Gerritsen novels that I have read so far in the fact that really this is a historical mystery and a modern mystery set in alternating chapters and, you guessed it, somehow they both link to each other in a way that twists and turns as you read along.

As the book opens we read a letter regarding ‘The West End Reaper’ who terrified Boston in the 1830’s. I have to admit I did go and google to see if ‘The West End Reaper’ actually existed which shows how believable the story is. It is also a nod in the direction of the UK’s very own ‘Jack The Ripper’ a mystery which still puzzled the world today. We are then taken to modern day Boston where Julia Hamill has recently bought a new house after a messy divorce and whilst clearing the garden discovers a skeleton. Alternating between Julia’s efforts to find out who the body is and why its there and going to the events of the 1830’s which proves to be a particularly gripping romp and mystery combined, especially as you learn that one of the characters became one of the pioneers in medicine.

I liked the modern elements of the novel yet it was definitely the older period of the book which got me hooked especially when seen through the eyes of our plucky (I hope that word doesn’t put people off) heroine Rose Connelley and Norris Marshall a young farm boy who gets accepted at medicine school despite all odds and must do all he can, including grave robbing, to support himself. There is also the man Oliver Wendell Holmes (who I thought was Gerritsen’s homage to Sherlock but is actually real) and the mysterious cloaked figure who is determined to murder at any cost.

In some ways ‘The Bone Garden’ has been described as a spin off from the Isles and Rizzoli novels which have become one of my favourite series to read. Realistically though there is no Rizzoli in this novel and not as much Isles as you might think from the blurb, though Isles does appear on and off in the modern alternating part of the story and its always nice to see a friendly character now and again. Yet I would say if you haven’t given Tess Gerritsen a whirl and you fancy trying her out then this would be a great starting point (though I would of course say start the series with ‘The Surgeon’ if you are after the modern storylines alone).

I really enjoyed this and it has been the perfect read to help cure a rather depressing period of reading difficulty. It is also yet further proof of why Gerritsen deserves to be the number one best seller in the UK which she has been with her latest novel. So should you want a gripping historical mystery, some winter escapism or to give Gerritsen a whirl; then you can’t go wrong with this. 8/10.

Anyone else given this a whirl or any other of Tess Gerritsen’s novels? There will be a special post tomorrow which will give you much more insight into the world of Tess Gerritsen. I shall say no more for now!!

I was bought this book as a present a couple of years ago, I am savouring the series as they come though (even though I now realise its actually a seperate novel rather than part of the series).

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Filed under Review, Rizzoli and Isles, Tess Gerritsen, Transworld Publishing

Summer Read Suggestions… From Authors

Earlier in my ‘Summer Reads Week’ I asked for suggestions of favourite summer reads from publishers pasts and the ones they were looking forward to having a read of over the coming months. So I then thought what about authors? I have noticed in the past some papers and the like get some authors to tell us just what they will be reading over the summer, so I thought why not do the same with authors? Asking simply what makes the perfect summer read for you and which book is your favourite summery read? Which book are you most eager to read over the summer months and why?

Rather than go off and just get any author I could to answer these questions I decided to go for some authors who have produced some of my favourite reads over the last few years of me writing Savidge Reads. I was most chuffed that they all said yes…

Maria Barbal

It depends quite on the time to spend. If I have a complete month it’s a good moment to read a long novel but also for a second rereading or for reading the whole work of an author.

I have read one book by Herta Müller and I would like to read some more.  Specially Tot el Que Tinc ho duc al damunt  (Atemschaukel, English: Everything I Possess I Carry With Me), because she has a poetic and piercing style, and reaches the reader with her writing.

Neil Bartlett

A perfect summer read for me is one which is utterly engrossing, but which I can safely fall asleep while reading on the flagstones of my garden, and then pick up the thread of at once, once I awake. Two contrasting examples currently in my pile; The Leopard (Lampedusa- perfect, as it makes the Visconti movie replay in my head) and My Memories of Six Reigns by Her Highness Princess Marie Louise – a junkshop find, full of great pictures and bizarre bejewelled stories.

Which book for this summer ? Andrew Graham Dixon’s new Caravaggio biog, which I think will piss me off, as he’s very determined to de-queer the paintings, but he’s a serious historian, and Caravaggio is an artist whose works I hope to spend the rest of my life looking at.

Stella Duffy

I read really widely anyway, and have never really bought into the ‘some books are for the beach’ idea, BUT I do like the books I’m hungry to get through in one or two sittings when I happen to have an afternoon free (we don’t have much skill at actually going away on holiday in our house!). I’ve had splendid summers in my garden where, after working all morning, I’ve spent the afternoon speeding through a friend’s very fast-paced dark crime novel or another mate’s bonkbuster.

I remember a great summer week of working every morning and reading Val McDermid’s Mermaid’s Singing in the garden in the afternoons. It hardly sounds summery, but there was something about the contrast between the warmth and sunshine and the darkness of the book that I really enjoyed.

I have Anna Quindlen’s ‘Every Last One’ on my TBR pile and I’m definitely looking forward to that. Unusually I HAVE been swayed by the quotes on the cover – Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and Alice Hoffman in praise? It has to be good! I also have some newly released Janet Frame short stories ‘The Daylight and The Dust’ which I’m definitely looking forward to, and I do think they will need a long, slow, quiet afternoon or two to really do them justice.

Tess Gerritsen

The perfect summer read… A book that takes me completely out of my own surroundings and transports me to a different one.  I especially love being plunged into a different time period, or even a different world.  An historical mystery by Arianna Franklin, for instance, would be an example of a perfect summer read.  Or a fantasy novel along the lines of Tolkien.

I have a copy of Justin Cronin’s The Passage.  I can’t wait to dive in. And I also have a copy of Manda Scott’s mammoth work Boudica, which I’ve been putting off until I have the time to do it justice.  I’m looking forward to them both so much!

Sophie Hannah

The perfect summer read, for me, is anything that pins me to my sun-lounger long after I would ordinarily have leaped into the swimming pool – a book worth getting sunstroke for. I have lots of favourite holiday reads dating back several years – the one that springs to mind is ‘The Memory Game’ by Nicci French, which I read on holiday in Florida in 1999. It remains one of the most sophisticated, intelligent, sensitive and gripping thrillers I’ve ever read.

On my holiday this year, I plan to read the new Scott Turow, ‘Innocent’, the sequel to ‘Presumed Innocent’, which I have no doubt will be as stylish and compelling as Turow always is, and ‘The Disappeared’ by MR Hall, a brilliant new crime writer whose series protagonist is a coroner.

Hillary Jordan

My perfect summer read is a beautifully written novel that grabs hold of me on page one, pulls me into another world and doesn’t let go till The End. I think my best ever summer read was Lord of the Rings.

This summer I was hoping to read The Lacuna but am racing to finish my own second novel, Red…so I suspect that’s the only book my nose will be buried in over the next few months!

Paul Magrs

There are several novels I associate with summer – and I’d be keen to reread them at some point during the holiday… R C Sherrif – The Fortnight in September, a suburban family between the wars goes to the seaside. Nothing happens – from everyone’s POV. A perfect novel! Haruki Murakami – The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, it’s long, episodic and puzzling. I read it in Paris last summer and loved it. Scarlett Thomas – The End of Mr Y. This is another holiday read that’s all mind-bendy and completely absorbing and perfect for sitting at cafe tables with strong coffee and fancy ice cream. Jacqueline Susann – The Love Machine. Perfect sleazy soap opera set in the world of 60s television. Jonathan Caroll – The Land of Laughs, a wonderful supernatural thriller about a writer of children’s books.

And, of course, as many unread or favourite Puffins, gobbled up alongside all of these. The papery fragrance of Puffins *is* what summer smells of, to me. Too many, no..?

Dan Rhodes

My reading habits aren’t particularly affected by the seasons, although I did once give up on Kafka’s The Castle while lying on the beach in Majorca. I just couldn’t feel the cold. At the moment I’m going through a cop novel phase. Two in particular I’ve found supremely original and well worth a look: Bad Traffic by Simon Lewis takes a Chinese detective and drops him in the English countryside, and Pocket Notebook by Mike Thomas follows a ‘roided-up firearms officer as his life and career unravel quite spectacularly. Most cop novels are by whey-faced writer types who would run a mile from a genuine crime scene, but Mike Thomas happens to be a serving police officer, which adds a frisson of authenticity to proceedings. Should that matter in fiction? Possibly not, but either way it’s a cracking read. I’m impatient for more from those two.

I’m going to plough through my short story shelf. There’s still plenty of stuff I haven’t read by William Trevor, VS Pritchett, Katherine Mansfield, Paul Bowles, etc, etc. And just when I think I must be nearing the end of Chekhov’s fiction I always seem to find a bunch of stories I’d never heard of. And while I’m on the subject of short stories, may I recommend Rhapsody by Dorothy Edwards? I’m always on about this book, but it’s criminally overlooked. It’s one of the best things ever to have happened on Earth.

Natasha Solomons

I remember my summers by the books I was reading. The summer of 2000 wasn’t island hopping through Greece with a slightly dodgy boyfriend and his dodgier moped, it was ‘A Thousand Years of Solitude’. The August I left school was ‘Moontiger’ and ‘A Town Like Alice’  — (which did cause me to develop a slight obsession with the sarong). During summer I want a book that transports me — I want the story to be more real than the British drizzle and to be so compelling that I’m flipping the bbq burgers in one hand and clutching my book in the other.

The books I love this year are Irene Sabatini’s ‘The Boy Next Door’, which has already won the Orange New Writer’s Prize — it’s the love story of a mixed race couple struggling amidst the growing chaos in Zimbabwe. I love these kinds of books: the small and personal set against the vast and cataclysmic. The other is Emma Henderson’s ‘Grace Williams Says it Loud’, which made me cry. The book is inspired by Emma’s own sister who lived for many years in a unit for disabled people. Yet, this is a sweeping love story narrated with such verve by Grace that you forget she is unable to speak. You’ll also fall in love with Daniel — he’s so dapper and debonair. I’ll also be re-reading Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ for the seventieth time. No summer is complete without a little strawberry picking at Donwell Abbey.

Evie Wyld

I love a really massive book for a summer read, and preferably something a bit spooky or scary, like Murakami’s Wind up Bird Chronicles. That was perfect. But this summer I’m looking forward to The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I’ve heard amazing things about this book.

Other things I’m taking on holiday are Larry’s Party by Carol Shields and The Trout Opera by Matthew Condon. I love Carol Shields and I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, and I’ve just been given a copy of the Trout Opera by my partner. He says I’ll love it, and he should know. All Australians I’m afraid!

So there you have it, on Friday and Saturday it’s a two parter of books that some other bloggers (some still haven’t responded tut tut, ha) have suggested for your summer reading TBR’s. Back to today though, anything taken your fancy from the selection of titles above? I am most intrigued by some of them I have to say. Did any authors surprise you with what they could be reading over the summer?

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Filed under Dan Rhodes, Evie Wyld, Hillary Jordan, Maria Barbal, Natasha Solomons, Neil Bartlett, Paul Magrs, Sophie Hannah, Stella Duffy, Tess Gerritsen

The Mephisto Club – Tess Gerritsen

It might look like I am taking a small detour from the weeks ‘Summer Reads Season’ but I’m not really (though I will be on Thursday a little) because Tess Gerritsen novels are actually wonderful summer reads, compelling, page turning, both character and plot driven and a little bit gory. In fact they are really all year round kinds of reads. In fact Tess Gerritsen is one of those wonderful writers who I know if I open any of her books I am just going to completely escape (she’s my guilt free guilty pleasure) and we all need books and authors like that don’t we?

‘The Mephisto Club’ is the sixth in what has become the Rizzoli & Isles series, though like most of the series you can read this as a standalone novel. Actually having said all that you couldn’t read ‘The Apprentice’ without having read ‘The Surgeon’ before hand as it is sort of a sequel, but I digress.  One of the things I think Tess Gerritsen always does well as the series goes on is to give you brief hints of what has gone on before rather than any catch ups and means that the books don’t suffer from too much retrospective unless its part of the plot, and believe me Gerritsen is all about the plot.

The book opens with the murder of a woman which looks to be sacrificial, dismembered parts of her are surrounded by words in Latin and satanic looking symbols. What becomes more ominous is when Dr Maura Isles has the body in one place she realises one of the hands doesn’t belong to the woman they found and Detective Jane Rizzoli is going to have to find a serial killer. That’s sort of the opening state of play though actually not only does Gerritsen create a fast paced thriller from all this and move Isle’s and Rizzoli’s lives forward (Maura’s love life gets ever more complicated and scandalises Rizzoli testing their already ropey friendship) she does more with this novel.

Through symbolism at the crime scene and as the story moves on a much bigger story, which leads us to Italy, is going on. Mythology and legends come into play through the mysterious ‘Mephisto Club’ which I will say no more about as you won’t read the book if I do. I will say that Gerritsen looks at how humans become evil and if there is the God people say there is, then surely there must be demons and the devil too? It never gets supernatural, though it does get quite scary, but looks at the possibilities behind certain beliefs. I was hooked from start to finish and read it in two sittings. I shouldn’t be surprised though as this happens with every single Gerritsen I pick up. 8/10

Do you have any faithful authors of any genre that you know as soon as you open the pages you will be lost in the book and devour in a few sittings? What or who your guilt free guilty pleasure all year round? This was the book I read o the plane to the Isle of Man last week to stop myself being aware I was on the plane, it worked! Which other series do you think I might like if I enjoy Gerristen so? I am well aware I am catching up with the Gerritsen books far too quickly as have started the next one, which interestingly has Isles in it but is completely and utterly different from this series, more on that soon…

Savidge suggests perfect prose partners;

The Surgeon – Tess Gerritsen (to start at the very beginning)
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell (I liked this a lot and know she has a huge readership, I do think Gerritsen’s books read better and are more addictive – is it bad to say that? Too late!)

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Filed under Review, Rizzoli and Isles, Tess Gerritsen, Transworld Publishing

Vanish – Tess Gerritsen

I hate flying but from now on whenever I have a big trip coming up I am going to have to make sure that I take a Tess Gerritsen book with me. I had been unsure of which book to read as I flew to and from Switzerland and most of my contenders seemed too heavy (especially as I was on a little bit of vallium) but my latest read in the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles novels ‘Vanish’ was absolutely perfect. I always say that a Tess Gerritsen book for me is my favourite ‘Guilty Pleasure’ but actually I am going to remove that tag from her books now as frankly literary or not (dependent on what you believe is and isn’t literature) she writes brilliant books that completely grip me and have me turning pages like crazy.

Vanish is in fact the fifth book in what was the Jane Rizzoli series and then became the Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isle series of crime/thriller novels that Tess Gerritsen has become incredibly famous for. Every single of the previous fur I have absolutely loved and raced through and so each time I open another one I always worry that this will be the one that I don’t like or that isn’t as good as the ones that have gone before it. I needn’t have worried as I was in safe, if gruesome, hands of a master of her work, or is it mistress of her work?

Dr Maura Isles is going about her routine paperwork at the morgue when she hears a noise. Not one for getting the creeps, as she is named ‘Queen of the Dead’, even she is shocked when she checks on the bodies and one of them opens their eyes. The woman is rushed to hospital where she then (and this isn’t spoiling the plot as its in the blurb) kills a guard and takes some of the staff and patients hostage. One such hostage is Detective Jane Rizzoli of homicide who is heavily pregnant. Who is this Jane Doe and what does she want and can Jane survive long enough to find out.

In previous books, as with this one, they are quite gruesome dark and tense. What makes an interesting twist with this book in particular is that Gerritsen decides to throw in some political twists which she hasn’t done so much in the past, had I known this I would possibly have been put off a little as I don’t do politics but Gerritsen makes it compelling reading adding to the suspense and twists which I don’t find many authors manage when they cross over the political thriller with the crime thriller. I can see this book gaining Gerritsen even more fans who may not have tried her before.

Along with all this is the fact that Gerritsen herself is a doctor and so she knows what she is talking about, never for one minute do you feel any of the scenes in the hospitals or morgues are faked, in fact Gerritsen has said that finding non dead people in morgues is more common than you would think which is a bit of a scary thought. Ok so some of the story line means you really have to suspend your belief (in the last one Dr Maura Isles opens up a body bag to see herself in it), but many, many books do that. Her characters though are superb and she does something only a few crime writers do which is get the reader to know the victim, making the death not only shocking tense and chilling but also adding the feeling you know that person makes it all the more horrific to read. I can’t say a bad thing about this book and do you know what… the next book, The Mephisto Club, sounds even better!

It was also perfect after the Orange shortlist (reviews still being sorted for the final two I read… I don’t understand what blogger is playing at) which though a great read and made me read some wonderful books I would otherwise have missed was a bit like an exercise and all too planned. Now before I try and do the Man Booker Long list when its announced I am more than happy to just let my reading whims take me wherever they should lead. Bliss!

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Filed under Review, Rizzoli and Isles, Tess Gerritsen, Transworld Publishing

Taking On My Travels

It’s all going a little bit wrong in the land of Blogger which I am finding quite annoying as it isn’t seeming to let me do any blogs before today when I want it to (additional note this should have been posted successfully at 11am not almost 11pm) and I am fairly unimpressed as I am desperately trying to get my Orange thoughts to you before tomorrow. Burnt Shadows finally seems to be up but it’s not letting me do two more which is really irritating! What I may have to do is put the reviews up in advance and you can get my full thoughts on the list on Wednesday and reviews of the final two afterwards, that cant be considered cheating as frankly I have read them and done the time. It is also annoying when you are trying to write a week worth of blogs so that while you are away magically there is something fun for your readers daily! I have to admit I am seriously thinking about moving blog provider when I come back from Switzerland or will that confuse things even more? Any advice or thoughts would be much appreciated.

Anyway onto happier things I am off on holiday, in fact by the time this goes up I will be there… or even back who knows (I mustn’t think of that or I will worry while I am away and am on an internet break) and so of course I need to have some books to take on my travels. I think I have shown you how I do this before, in fact I have, but I base my travelling choices like this…

a) Something big I have been meaning to read for ages
b) A guilty pleasure read in case the above really just doesn’t work out, you know something slightly erm… un-literary??!!
c) Something by one of my favourite authors
d) Something brand spanking new ‘just in’ as you never know
e) A good crime novel
f) Something that has been hovering on my TBR pile and reading radar for sometime

Now because I am away for a week and doing a lot of train travelling across the Swiss landscape there will therefore be a lot of dragging of suitcases, so I have limited myself to five but some of them fit in several categories! So my Swiss TBR pile is looking very much like this…


Vanish – Tess Gerritsen
I love Tess as and author and frankly I have been holding of the next in the series for as long as physically possible. She’s becoming less and less of a guilty pleasure and more and more of an open obsession plus its crime and something that should keep my mind off being up in the air in a plane which I hate with a passion.

Wavewalker – Stella Duffy
You know that I love Stella’s work and this is the second in her crime series. I really enjoyed the first and so have high hopes for this, I will be saving it for my flight back as think it will take my mind of being in a tin can so many miles above the earth. Moving swiftly on…

Daphne – Justine Picardie
I have now said I will take this with me and read it on three holidays and its getting out of hand. A book all about the wonderful Daphne Du Maurier and The Bronte’s really is a must read, shame on me. I have just realised I still haven’t done a review of the new Daphne short stories so I will sort that out when I am back.

The Devil’s Paintbrush – Jake Arnott
This sees Jake leave the crime Genre and go all historical on us. I don’t have too much of an insight into what it’s about as I am desperate for it to be a surprise. It’s also been on a travel trip with me and come back unread, second time lucky let’s hope.

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters
How could I not, I have managed to hold of the whole way through the Orange shortlist and I refuse to hold off any longer. That is all I have to say on it for the matter. A few of you seem quite divided on this book which has made me all the more intrigued.

…Now tell me London City Airport doesn’t have a book shop does it that could be lethal with time to kill and nerves galore!?! Oh and additional comment, please don’t be offended if I don’t visit your blogs or comment back on here while I am away, I will do so with gusto when I am back!

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Jake Arnott, Justine Picardie, Sarah Waters, Stella Duffy, Tess Gerritsen

The Lesser of Two Bookish Evils

What I love about Booking Through Thursday is that it always makes me think. I generally end up waffling on (as I am sure I will do today) and find varying tangents to discuss. It makes me think out the box though and this weeks question “Which is worse… finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author, or reading a completely disappointing book by an author that you love?” has not only made me think more about books and what I have read but also how I read.

Out of the two I don’t think I could say which is worse because of some ‘reading rules’ I have, in fact I think I may have to do a blog in the near future on reading and reviewing rules I have, though they aren’t set in stone. If I read one book I absolutely love by an author I will undoubtedly pick another of their books up but it might take me weeks, months even years for me to read another of their books or for them to write another if it’s their debut. If I couldn’t wait (very rare that that happens) and the next one was rubbish I would sadly probably write them off. There is a clause in that statement though in respect of if someone whose opinion I trust raved about another of their works I would possibly give them a second chance.

So what about an author I love who releases a dud book? Well in order to love an author I have to have read more than three/four of their books. If one of them was a dud before that the rule above would apply so they wouldn’t be an author I love. I only at present have authors like that Daphne Du Maurier, Ian McEwan, Stella Duffy, Tess Gerritsen and Susan Hill all who so far with all their varying writing styles and genres haven’t failed me once.

I do get nervous reading the next of their works though that it might be the one book by them that will really bad or put me off them (in my head for some reason I am thinking of McEwan’s ‘Saturday’ instantly which I haven’t tried yet but worries me in advance) as yet none of them have written a bad word. If one did… I would be disappointed but I would forgive them. It has happened with one author who would have made my favourite readers amount to six not five and that is Kate Atkinson whose books I love only I had a really, really hard time with ‘Behind The Scenes At The Museum’ which was the second book I read of hers after ‘Human Croquet’. I didn’t get on with ‘Behind The Scenes…’ and so much so, though I am going to try again, I was tempted not to bother with her again. Luckily three people recommended ‘Case Histories’ to me and my oneside relationship with Kate has never looked back.

So not only has today’s blog made me think about my reading in a different way its also made me look at my reading pattern (is that what you call it) as I have noticed I have quite a lot of books I have absolutely loved and either not read another word by that author yet or (like Margaret Atwood) read the second one a year or so down the line. I am thinking maybe I need to start reading the whole works of some authors such as Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler… oooh who else? Any recommendations, what about all of you?

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Filed under Anne Tyler, Book Thoughts, Daphne Du Maurier, Ian McEwan, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Stella Duffy, Susan Hill, Tess Gerritsen

Friday the 13th

Yes it is that day, the unlucky day and I have to say I don’t like Friday the 13th I am a bit superstitious (some people may think that’s mad) and in if it was possible on these days you wouldn’t see me getting out of bed. However that isn’t the real world. I thought that as it’s a special certain date, and as I am coming to the end of Sophie Hannah’s Hurting Distance, that I would find a short quick themed read before I start something bigger. I had a look through my TBR (as I have read most of my spooky or horror/unlucky based books) and found that it was seriously lacking in contenders. I could only find five and one of them technically doesn’t count other than having Demon in the title. Please find below a collage (thanks to Picasa 3 – which Simon Stuck in a Book is so much better at than me) of the contenders…


In the end I am plumping for Tess Gerritsen’s Vanish, partly because I am in need of a delightful quick Thriller and she is just the woman for the job, I just know I will whizz through any of her works. It does sound like it will be horror filled as it starts with a body in the morgue waking up on the table ready to be… well you know. I find the whole idea that Gerritsen has actually seen that happen (as she bases her books on her work) quite horrific, can you imagine waking up and everyone thinking you were dead or someone you think is dead waking up? What a horrible thought, let’s not dwell on it shall we?

I was very tempted by M.R. James short stories or Frankenstein for a classic read and I haven’t read a Susan Hill in ages and I love her ghost stories but am holding out on her until I am ready for either Mrs De Winter or one of her crime novels. As I have heard Dovegreyreader mention a few times before everything needs to be aligned when you choose a book and that seemed just so with Vanish.

So is there anything that you could recommend me for a good scary read as we have another Friday the 13th coming up in March. Please do let me know as I am stumped on this one it has to be said. I am coming up with ideas for Valentines Day reads for tomorrow as well at the moment, so if you have anything you can suggest for that too I would be most grateful.

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Susan Hill, Tess Gerritsen

Not Writing But Blogging…

I know I probably don’t know half of the good book blogs out there in the ether. I have found some I love and there are several I subscribe to or drop in on, which have become favourites of mine and which you can see on the left under Bookish Blogs. What I haven’t really done which I think I will change is added Authors blogs. I don’t know about you but I do love a good blog regardless of the reason, ones by authors telling us how they create their craft and what they are all about sounds like heaven.

The blog that has got this blog started (is anyone else confused by that) is Not Writing But Blogging by the delightful Stella Duffy which I saw when catching up with Dove Grey Reader. Having only used minimal internet time whilst in Barcelona over New Years I had missed the launch of this, and I am sure an invite to the launch party. I have read a fair bit of Stella over the last twelve months and though a new find she is becoming one of my fav’s. Her, Kate Atkinson and Anne Tyler, who I don’t think have blogs sadly. If I am wrong please let me know and I will get reading them pronto. Without sounding sychophantic Stella is also just bloody lovely and her latest novel ‘The Room of Lost Things’ is out in Feb in paperback, do order it now! Anyways authors and their blogs… where are they all?

I know there was a slight snobbery towards book bloggers but authors I like such as Tess Gerritsen, Augusten Burroughs and Neil Gaiman have started them and I read avidly. I was a big fan of Susan Hill’s blog which one day was there and one day wasn’t and so if you know of any please wing them my way and I will get adding them. So that’s all really welcome to a new blogger, and let me know of any more author or just book wise that I am missing out on.

After arriving back from the joys of Spain I am too shattered to write more so apologies. I will say I had an amazing time I didn’t read anywhere near as much of Anna Karenina as I intended and I know its bad but am taking a break from her as had a lovely pile of new books from Vintage when I got home and one I have been wanting to read for ages… so off to bed with it now!

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Filed under Anne Tyler, Augusten Burroughs, Book Thoughts, Kate Atkinson, Neil Gaiman, Stella Duffy, Susan Hill, Tess Gerritsen