Mother's Day, Easter, Father's Day or birthdays, books make great gifts. You can travel back in time, into the future, cross time zones or live other lives through characters. Books offer us an escape from our everyday lives and whatever their preferred genre, there's a perfect book for your mum, dad, best friend or sibling somewhere.
I often review books for other websites and, as you might imagine, love reading. Here are some of my recent favourites that I wholeheartedly recommend.
Historical crime? Try Vaseem Khan's Malabar House series (Hodder & Stoughton) featuring the first and only police inspector, Persis Wadia. Khan has created a diverse cast of characters who intrigue the reader as much as Bombay in 1950 does. The intricate plots and the forays into the past as it affects the era of the novel foreshadow issues, which are still relevant and pertinent today. The writing is insightful and throws a spotlight on the various types who peopled Bombay as it struggled to find its feet after British Empire rule. Plus they are great who-dun-its? the third in the series, The Lost Man of Bombay has just been published in paperback.
Pride and Prejudice fan? Check out Linda O'Byrne's Cousins of Pemberly series (Spellbound Books) set 20 years after the end of the Jane Austen novel. Each volume concerns one of the female cousins related to the Bennet girls and the actions centre, unsurprisingly from the title, in and around Pemberley where Elizabeth lives with her husband, Darcy, and their brood of children: twins Anne and Jane, Benneta, Fitzwilliam and Henry. Her favorite sister, Jane Bingham, lives relatively nearby but her health has deteriorated since the birth of a late child. The first three are Cassandra, Catherine and Miriam.
In to Gothic? So Pretty by Ronnie Turner (Orenda Books) will have you on the edge of your seat as nature versus nurture compete for the minds and actions of the two main characters, Teddy Colne and single mother Ada who with her young son, lives on the edge of town both literally and metaphorically. Destined to find each other they find themselves at the mercy of the puppet master, the owner of the curiousity shop in Rye, Beryy & Vincent. Unpalatable truths, once hidden, have a way of rising to the present. This is a modern gothic thriller which gets right under your skin.
Love Sherlock? Bonnie MacBird's series ticks all the boxes for the Holmes afficionado. What Child is This? is the fifth in MacBird’s oeuvre of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. This Christmas one has a Dickensian flavour with its sweep of characters from the meanest existing in poverty and workhouses to the higher echelons of society living in luxury. Holmes is rather in the Scrooge frame of mind bah humbugging all the festivities but he takes on two cases both involving sons: the attempted kidnap of a beloved three year old child and the disappearance of a younger son of a marquis. Inspired by Conan Doyle’s The Blue Carbuncle, and illustrated by Frank Cho, What Child Is This? brilliantly recreates the Victorian London of the Holmes oeuvre and offers another intriguing mystery novel to delight fans and those new to the genre. MacBird has produced a page-turning tale full of cracking characters and devilish plots with style and wit with a dénouement to warm the cockles of the reader’s heart.
Royal Reading? What’s not to like about our late Queen Elizabeth solving murder mysteries while others flap around trying not to upset her sensibilities? Murder Most Royal by S. J. Bennett (Zaffre) the third in the series in which the Queen’s trusted assistant, Rozie, aids the “detective” by going to the places and asking the questions the monarch cannot, is a delightful read. Witty and brilliantly observed by Ms Bennett, Murder Most Royal is full of intriguing possibilities, fabulous set pieces relating to the royal family and is a great who-done-it.
Dream of a dystopian future? You can do no better than The Forcing by Paul Hardisty (Orenda Books). The author, one of the world's leading environmental scientists, portrays a searingly authentic climate change thriller in which civilisation is collapsing as the younger generation take over government and relocate older citizens deemed to be responsible for the catastrophic situation to abandoned southern deserts. Survival depends on who you know and how you behave in a vicious world stripped of decency. Only a promise of a "sanctuary" keeps the main characters going. Will they survive? Totally compelling and written with a magnificent fluency.