My Top Crime/Mystery Books (SERIES)

My favourite genre of books is crime as I have previously shared and that I much prefer to read a book series than a single novel. I feel as though I can get much more engaged and attached to the characters and storylines in a series and I get much more interested in the plot. A series often allows more time to be spent exploring the characters and their lives. I found it hard to choose just 5 but I have managed to narrow it down to my top 5. The following is my decision (they are in no particular order);

DI CALLANACH

  • DI Callanach Series by Helen Fields

The DI Callanach Series is a book I have previously written about on my blog so if you want more information on the series and an author Q&A head over to that post. This series follows a French detective who moved over from Interpol to the Scottish Police service after a personal issue. It follows his journey getting used to his new life in Scotland while being a detective in the police force. We see how his relationships with his colleagues evolve and how he comes to terms with this huge change in his lives. Not only do we get to appreciate the characters we are given exciting plots and storylines throughout the series. We see how they investigate crimes and how these crimes affect them in a personal way.

Jackson Lamb series

  • Jackson Lamb Series by Mick Herron

I have also written about this series previously so please go and read that if you would like to know more about the series and the author. The series focuses on service castaways and how they cope with the fact they are sent to Slough House. Slough House is where the castaways are sent instead of being fired due to something they have done or personal issues.  It follows a series of character as they come to terms with being sent to slough house and we get the chance to gain some deeper knowledge on each character which also makes the storylines much more interesting as we can relate them to each characters situation.

 The carnvia trilogy

  • The Carnivia Trilogy by Jonathon Holt

The Carnivia Trilogy by Jonathon Holt is a series I absolutely loved and I thought the trilogy was incredibly interesting and unique. The series is set in two different Venice’s; one in the real world and one in a virtual world. It is focused on an online world, named Carnivia, where anyone who enters is completely anonymous and for this reason it is a place where a high amount of crime is inevitable. It follows life inside the virtual world but combines it with the real world as we see the Carabiniere (Italian paramilitary police force) Captain investigate some of these crimes involving Carnivia.

 Noughts and Crosses Malorie Blackman

  • Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman are a series that I read when I was younger due to my sister’s recommendation and I found it very fascinating. It is a series based upon an alternative world where Europeans were made the Africans slaves. It looks at this discrimination in another way and how it would have changed things. On top of this it features a love story between people from the two sides and how they deal with this in that time. It is incredibly powerful and poignant and I would easily recommend this to anyone who is interested in reading a new book. It allows you o think about what would have happened if it was different whilst exploring an exciting storyline and characters.

I would recommend all of these series and I hope you get the chance to read them.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment if you have read these or have any other series you would recommend)

My Favourite Teen Fiction Series

I have been reading crime/mystery/thriller books for years and I have always felt that even in teen fictions novels it is extremely captivating. I also love to read a series of books as it gives you the time to explore the characters and see them throughout a series of events in multiple books rather than just the one.

I have a few favourite book series from when I was younger which I would like to share.

Gallagher Girls
Source: http://www.goodreads.com

I will start with a series that I loved and always wanted to be a part of; Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter. This series is made up of 6 novels. This series is about a group of girls who attend The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. From the outside and what everyone else is told it’s just a typical all girls’ school but that isn’t the case. It is a school where the girls are actually in all sorts of unusual classes. Some may think it is a School for geniuses but in actuality it is a school for spies. Gallagher Girls are trained in all sorts of different fields such as martial arts and decoding alongside learning multiple languages and espionage history. I found this series incredibly exciting and engaging as I was a young girl like the pupils at the Academy which made me much more involved in the story and the characters. It follows the story of Cameron Morgan and her friends and they learn about this new world of espionage and excitement and how they balance this with trying to be somewhat normal teenagers. We follow them as they flourish and grow whilst seeing them learn new skills and take on the lives of spies. I think that this series is very well written and is completely compelling to its target audience. I would highly recommend this series to any young/teenage girls as it is full of excitement and friendship which keeps you on the edge of your seat and wanting to read more.

agent-21-series source- poenguin books
Source: http://www.penguinbooks.com

The second series I will share is the Agent 21 series by Chris Ryan. It is a serried made up of 6 novels. This series is focused on a teenager named Zak Darke whose parents were murdered when he was younger by a suspected terrorist attack. He then continues to live his life as best as possible until one day he is approached by a government agent who changes his life forever. Zak then becomes an agent and we follow his adventures throughout the series. This series is great and it follows Zaks adventures from the moment the agent approaches him and we see how he deals with this new life. It is not a series that starts with the character already being involved in a certain life and I think because of that we get much more involved in Zak and the storyline. We, as readers, want to continue from book to book to see where his new life as an agent takes him and how he comes to terms with the new challenges as well as still trying to cope with the death of his parents. I would also recommend this book to teenagers/young adults who love adventure/spy novels or dream of becoming a secret agent as it is not only exciting but the storyline is very easy to become attached. Seeing Zak live with his aunt and uncle who don’t want him there and see how he progresses and changes whilst getting involved in the secret agency allows you to often sympathise and empathise with him as a character. His personality is realistic which also allows you to feel much more engaged and involved in it all. I find that this series is written perfectly for the target audience and it is completely realistic unlike some spy novels that are written and for that reason I would recommend this series.

the joshua files sources- amazon uk
Source: http://www.amazonuk.com

The final series that I loved was The Joshua Files by M.G Harris. This series is made up of 5 novels. This series is extremely intriguing as I found it was unlike any other series I had read. It is a series based upon a mythology of the prophecy of the ancient Maya. It follows the story of Joshua Garcia young teenager who is following in his father’s footsteps through the archaeological Mayan ruins. He is accompanied by his 3 friends as he goes on his journey through the ruins in order to find the IX Codex. Joshua is a brave and mysterious character who after his father’s death is determined to continue on what he started. Throughout his journeys he has to face harsh adversities but he continues through which shows how courageous he is. He is followed by a hit man, his family is kidnapped and the truth about his father’s death amongst other things. The story features time travel which seems realistic in its context and creates an excitement around the series. All of Joshua’s adventures are based upon the mythology and have connections to it in various ways. I loved this series as I became intrigued by the characters personalities, strengths and flaws alongside the action packed storylines. I think any teenager who loved adventure stories with mythology and time travel would love this also.

All of these series I loved and I would recommend all of them to anyone who asked. I think all of them are books with depth and excitement that would be enjoyable for teenager to read and enjoy. Each series contains a set of characters which you become complexly enthralled and involved in to the point where you believe you know them and are part of the stories. This is part of the reason whilst all these stories caught my eye and I have loved ever since.

 

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(P.S. If you have read these or loved any other series as a young teenager please leave a comment)

My Top 10 Crime Books (Non-Series)

My favourite genre of books is crime/thriller/mystery as I find them the most interesting and enjoyable to read. I like that crime books have an ending and that something is solved. It not only is about the characters and the plot it is also about the process that is involved in solving the crimes/mysteries. I have read a lot of crime/mystery novels but I have somehow managed to chose ten that I completely love and found interesting and compelling. I like a lot more than these ten however I have decided to recommend the following (they are not in any particular order);

Truth or Dare by Tania CarverTruth or Dare Tania Carver (google books)

The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

The Beautiful Dead Belinda Bauer (google books)

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

In Bitter Chill Sarah Ward (google books)

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

Baby Doll Hollie Overton (google books)

The Twenty-three by Linwood Barclay

The Twenty-three Linwood Barclay (google books)

The Killing Lessons by Saul Black

The Killing Lessons Saul Black (google books)

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door Shari Lapena (google books)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn (google books)

Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson

Before I Go To Sleep SJ Watson (amazon)

The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

The Night She Disappeared April Henry (google books

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS if you have any other favourites please feel free to comment)

Girl, Stolen and Author Q&A

Girl stolen
Source: www.goodreads.com

Girl, Stolen is an excellent book by the author April Henry. It is a young-adult crime novel with a fascinating storyline and exciting characters. It is about an accidental kidnapping of a 16 year old teen, Cheyenne, who is not only young but she is also blind. After she is kidnapped by Griffin, his dad finds out there is a reason to keep her after all. She doesn’t know how safe she is and trying to escape is a lot harder without any sight. I think that this is a good story as the central character Cheyenne is blind and ill which gives the character a bit more depth; you sympathise with her situation and connect with her quickly. You understand that potentially someone with sight and is well has much more chances to escape, not only is she a lot weaker but she is never sure of how much danger she is in. If she did get away, she would even be able to tell anyone what the perpetrators look like. I love the way that yes, Cheyenne is blind but that doesn’t control her. It is merely a difference but not a bad thing. I think the character Griffin is also an interesting read as yes he may be a car thief but he never intended to become a kidnapper. To see how he reacts to the situation and is desperate to make sure that Cheyenne isn’t hurt is fascinating as it also allows you to connect with him. You want to help him stand up to his dad and help Cheyenne. I think that this book focuses more on the relationship between kidnapper and kidnapped, Griffin and Cheyenne and less about the psychology of being kidnapped which I enjoyed. It showed a different side to the traditional storyline and allowed you to believe in the characters more. I would highly recommend you to read this as it is incredibly engaging.

April Henry is currently writing a sequel to this novel which is due to be released

April Henry is a crime/thriller novelist from Oregon, USA who has written 20+ novels for a variety f readers. She was kind enough to answer some questions I submitted her which I have inserted below:

April Henry Q&A

  1. What made you want to become an author?

I have always loved to read, but no one will pay to read and eat Doritos, which I think we could all agree would be the best job ever.  Writing stories that make people want to read is definitely the next best thing.

  1. Were you ever inspired by any other authors?

I have been inspired by every author who made me get lost in their story, from Robert C. O’Brien who wrote The Silver Crown to Gin Phillips, who wrote Fierce Kingdom.

  1. Why did you choose to write in the crime/mystery genre?

I like to read that genre.  It also has built-in high stakes.  I’m never going to write about the girl who can’t decide who to go to the prom with.

  1. Regarding your book, Girl, Stolen, why did you choose to make one of the main characters (Cheyenne) blind?

It was inspired by a real-life event.  A real blind girl was briefly kidnapped after her mom left the keys in the ignition.  I watched her on TV and thought it would make a great beginning to a book.

  1. Why did you choose to revisit Cheyenne’s story in its sequel, Count all Her Bones?

I always said I wouldn’t write a sequel, but then I became fascinated by how self-driving cars will change so much for the blind.

  1. Do you follow a certain process whilst writing and does that involve a lot of research?

I usually research before I even start writing and then research more as I go along.  I try to make everything as accurate as possible.

  1. What would you say is your favourite every book?

I’m not sure I have one.  I really liked Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

  1. Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors or avid readers of crime fiction?

No matter what you want to do in life, you’re the only one who can say you can’t do it, by giving up.  The secret to success of almost any kind is perseverance.  Of course, it’s great to be naturally talented, but even that won’t take you all the way without hard work.

 

April Henry 2018

April Henry

Many thanks, Caitlin x

 

(PS please comment if you have ever read this book or another by April Henry)

My View on e-Readers

The introduction of e-readers is fascinating. It gives people a way to store books and read whilst not taking up much physical space. It allows people to have hundreds of books in one place and take them wherever they go. An e-reader, to many people is a great invention but to others the traditional paper books are never going to be beaten.

The views on e-readers can be very split however as it can be said that it effects the experience of reading a book. Not being able to flick through the pages and be able to physically see your progress as well as be able to locate a certain point a lot easier. I understand that this is the case and I, myself, do prefer to read a paper copy of a book as it does add to the experience and allows you to be more immersed into a story. It adds to the anticipation of reading on and turning the pages. As you flick through the pages you get the scent of a book which immerses you even further. Another reason is that without physical books you couldn’t have physical libraries to browse and enjoy. Having a room filled with books from the floor to the ceiling is almost magical being surrounded by all sorts of literature. It is almost like in Beauty and the Beast. The argument that reading on an e-reader and phone caused eye strain and headaches is also a prominent one.

library

However this isn’t always the case and the introduction of e-readers did encourage much more people to read. It makes books so easy to access and it is almost instant, there is no need to go to your local bookshop or order online as you can have it downloaded in seconds and have a library in your pocket.  Not only is the speed a key factor but often the price as the majority of the time books can be cheaper and classics are often free so there for you can read more for cheaper.  The portability of an e-reader is also a huge factor with it being light and compact taking up much less space than a physical book, especially a hardback. Not only are e-readers becoming more popular but so is using book apps on your smart phone. The convenience of this means that often people use this as their way to read. You always have your phone on you, so you will always have your books.

 

e-reader

Overall, I understand both arguments and I personally prefer to read a paperback/hardback book over an e-reader although I own one. Even although I personally think this I know people who would much prefer and do all of their reading on their phone or e-reader. I would say that if either makes you want to read is a good thing and should be encouraged as reading is an important part of learning and very enjoyable.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS comment your opinions on e-readers vs books)

Jackson Lamb Series and Author Q&A

 

Jackson Lamb series

 

The Jackson Lamb series by Mick Herron is an alternative spy novel that focuses on the secret services castaways. It focuses on those who were not quite fired but may well have been either due to something they done or personal issues. They are sent to work in the mind-numbing Slough House. I would say that this is also one of my favourite series of books as each character has their flaws but you sympathise with how they feel being stuck in an office and not out ‘saving the world’. Each character is developed throughout the series giving you an insight into why they are in Slough House and them as a person. You see each of their relationships or not so much and experience both highs and lows whilst reading. The book is written in such a way that you are totally immersed in the book and want to continue to read on to the next one. I find that the exploration of the characters backgrounds adds to the enjoyments on the books as it allows you to comprehend the situation that they are in and how desperate they are to return to ‘the park’ and be the ones saving the day. This desperation pushes them to help in any situation they can and allows the plot of the story to make sense. This series is one that I would highly recommend to anyone as even although you may not generally read this genre it will defiantly make you want to read more.

Mick Herron the author of these great spy books is a British mystery/thriller novelist who has published a series of novels as well as a collection of short stories. He kindly agreed to answering some of my questions so I would like to thank him for taking the time to do so. I hope this gives you further insight into the series and Mick Herron as an author. Hope you enjoy.

 

Mick Herron Q&A:

  1. What made you become an author?

Impossible to say. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer; one way or another, I’ve always written. It never really seemed a matter of choice.

  1. Were you influenced/inspired by any other authors?

Yes, of course. All novels, on some level, are a product of their author’s reading, and influences – conscious or unconscious – are bound to seep out in the writing. When I notice these, I try to edit them out. I’ve spent a long time trying to establish my own voice, and I’d rather it wasn’t drowned in the mix. But the strongest voices will be heard anyway. Authors I love and admire range from Austen and Dickens through to le Carré, Stephen King, Sarah Waters. And hundreds more. I’m sure there’ll be moments when their influences show through.

  1. Why did you choose to write in the crime/mystery genre?

The crime genre demands a certain framework, without which I’d just be scrabbling about in the dark, I expect. Knowing that I need to be working towards an ending, in which all the loose ends of plot are dealt with, forces me to pay attention to the details.

  1. Regarding your Jackson Lamb series, which book would you say was the most enjoyable to write and why?

I think Real Tigers. With that one, I knew where the plot was going right from the start. And the ending has a sort of James Bond vibe to it, which I enjoyed.

  1. What made you decide to write a series of books based on a group of service castaways?

I didn’t want to write about heroes. Writing about thwarted ambition, frustration, failure – and the occasional opportunity to shine – seemed much more satisfying, somehow. And a lot of readers can relate to characters doing miserable jobs in seedy offices…

  1. Do you do any research whilst writing your books?

As little as I can get away with. Writing about the secret world grants me licence to make up as much as I like.

  1. If you could be any character in the Jackson Lamb series who would you be and why?

Good question! Most of the characters have issues I wouldn’t want to deal with myself … But I’ve given JK Coe my own love for the work of Keith Jarrett, so I’d probably go with him. Notwithstanding that he’s a bit of a psychopath.

  1. What would you say is your favourite ever book?

I wouldn’t. I’d feel too bad about the ninety nine other books I’d immediately wish I’d chosen instead.

  1. What process do you go through when writing a new book?

Inner turmoil is a big part of it. But once ideas start thrusting themselves forward, this stage can be quite enjoyable. It doesn’t involve actual work, in the sense of writing, so can be an excuse for general laziness. I go for walks, and I lie on the sofa with my eyes closed. I put off actually starting for as long as possible.

  1. Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring writers and/or avid readers of crime fiction? Do you have any tips?

Aspiring writers: only do it if you love writing. Because that’s the only thing that will see you through the difficult times.

Avid readers: keep at it. There’s so much good stuff out there. Sarah Hilary, Harry Bingham, Sharon Bolton, Mark Billingham… This list could go on all day.

Mick Herron – 2018

Mick herron (souce www.mickherron.com).jpg
Source : http://www.mickherron.com

 

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS feel free to comment your opinions on this series and author)

My Favourite Books When I Was Younger

 

Mist and between shades of grey.jpg

When I was younger and started to read more ‘grown up’ novels I came across a book named ‘Between Shades of Grey’ by Ruta Sepetys. I was around about 12/13 when I read this book and since then I have always said it is one of my favourites. It was a hard-hitting book for me to read at that age and I think that’s why I loved it so much, it shared a story that I had never thought of/heard of. It is a book set in 1941 during the Second World War and is based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors. It is a story of a young 15 year old girl, Lina, whose life is turned upside down when her and her family are dragged from their home in Lithuania and deported to Siberia by Soviet officers. It follows her journey to a labour camp in Siberia and what she has to deal with during this horrible time in her life. She deals with life changing events at the age of 15 which I feel no young person should go through. She sees members of her family die and people she has met along the way become her friends only to be ripped apart. She is separated from her love interest during her journey but is reunited at the end once she has been through the worst moments of her life. This book is incredibly powerful and shares a story of a strong and resilient young woman that would inspire anyone, especially young girls.

I think I loved this book due to the fact that it was based on a young girl not much older than I was and how she was so brave and determined to survive throughout her journey. I have read it multiple times and I think with each time it gets slightly better. As I have grown up and re-read the book I have seen it in a different light and experienced it differently from when I was 12/13. I realised that it is a hugely powerful book and I would recommend it to anyone of any age to take the time to read this as it is truly one of my all time favourites.

Another one of my favourites as a young teen was ‘Mist’ by Kathryn James. This is a book of mystery and intrigue and I was captivated from the start. It is a novel about a world beyond the mist. It tells the story of a 16 year old girl, Gwen, who is dragged through the mist and disappears. It also tells the story of her 13 year old sister Nell who spends her time throughout the book trying to find her sister and uncovering secrets about where her sister has gone. Whilst on this journey Nell befriends a mysterious boy named Evan. It is a beautiful world full of musical harps and magical castles which are both scary and intriguing. This welcomes any reader into the world, and invites you to read on. I loved this book when I was about 12/13 as it was a story filled with wonder and deception. It is a well written young teen novel which I was totally enthralled by. I think I loved this book so much is because it wasn’t like anything I had read before. It mixed a reality with another world beyond the mist in a way that seemed totally possible. Gwen crossed over dimensions and it was an amazing book to read.

I highly recommend both books for young teens as well as adults as they both inspire and enthral. You will find a young girl or boy would be inspired by Lina’s power and strength in ‘Between Shades of Grey´ and by Nell’s heroine acts and her investigation into finding her sister. Both are very well written by excellent authors that I couldn’t recommend enough.

 

Thanks for reading, Caitlin x

(PS comment your favourite books from when you were a young teenager J )