WWWWednesday, and I’m thinking about books.

What did you just finish?

I am a bit of a slow starter on the urban fantasy race, but from the first book I read about four months ago (which was First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones, if my read shelf isn’t lying to me) I have been hooked. It was curiosity which finally won me over. I’d seen so many of my buddies on GoodReads reading and raving about this genre that I thought I ought to try it. And how glad am I that I did? Pretty glad…but not as glad as I was when I first started on the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Then I wondered how on earth I could have waited as long as I did to read what has very quickly become one of my favourite series of all time.

I just finished book #3, Magic Strikes. The first book was good, the second was fantastic and this one was just awesome. I’m now familiar with the world and so I don’t have to concentrate as hard trying to figure out what is going on, what physical laws exist and don’t, and what the difference between ‘magic’ and ‘tech’ is, so perhaps that is why I am enjoying the stories so much. Or it could just be because the books are getting better and better.

In this book, Kate, who, incidentally, is my ultimate kick-ass heroine, is coerced by Saiman into attending some highly illegal gladiator-style games. It doesn’t take her long to realise that the games, which Curran has forbidden any of his shifters to ever attend, is a hot-bed of danger to those very shifters. Despite her protests about Curran (and oh she doth protest too much?), in this book it becomes very clear to her that not only does she care about him, but actually, she is diabolically attracted to him. Her loyal sidekick, Derek, also plays a large part in this book as does Andrea and Raphael, all of whom we are getting to know better and better. Isn’t that what is so good about getting into a series? As the books go on you feel like the characters are your family and you become so invested in what happens to them that you just have to read on. I have been completely hooked by this series and it isn’t that I have to read on, it is that I can’t NOT read on.

It almost goes without saying but the author/s write brilliantly: the lines, the pace, the humour, the tension – it is all just flawless. When I read books this good, I feel like I have just swallowed a mug of rich hot chocolate laced with rum. I feel warm, satiated and absolutely gagging for more.

What are you currently reading?

What I ought to say is that I am currently reading Kate Daniels #4…but I’m not. There are too many demands from too many challenges which make it almost impossible to read the books in a series one after another (and frankly, that’s how I like it). No, instead I am reading a behemoth of a book called Homocide: A Year On the Killing Streets by David Simon. This is the book which formed the basis for the TV series, The Wire. You’ll soon get to know me in that I don’t really watch much TV, so I haven’t seen the series, but now that I have (almost) read the book, I am pretty sure I know that whole thing.

This is a non-fiction account of a year with the Baltimore Homicide Squad. It covers murders, politics, personalities and facts and it is really, really good. I don’t often choose 670+ page books to read, simply because I like to get through books nice and quickly, but  there have only been a few occasions with this one when it a bit tedious. I have about 2 hours to go on it and, considering I only started it five days ago, I’m impressed by how quickly I’ve got through it. If you are at all interested in the reality of homicide work, if you need any convincing that guns and drugs are bad things, and if you want to understand the truth about the kind of people who hunt down murderers for a living, then this is the book for you. But it is fact, not fiction, so be prepared that not all of the crimes get solved in the end.

What do you plan to read next?

My up-next list is huge, but I have a few books out from the library, so I need to get those finished before their due date. As such, next up for me is Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I don’t know a lot about this book, but the little I have heard has all been good. It is apparently a horror to beat all horrors, so having it by my bedside is me creeping very slightly out on a limb as I don’t normally read horror. Of course, I’ve read Stephen King (who hasn’t), and I have a bit of Dean Koontz and James Herbert on my bookshelf, but it isn’t normally my first choice of genre. But who knows? If I pick a nice, dark, stormy night and if the local owls come out in force and I make sure not to oil the hinges on the side gate, then this book might scare the willies out of me and I might change my mind.

What future book are you eyeing?

This was always going to be a tough question as I am very much a reactive reader rather than a proactive reader. In other words, I read what I need for a challenge, I read when I see someone in my circle has read and recommended, or I read what I find in the library/charity shop/second hand bookshop or on my excessively swollen bookshelves. It is rare for me to actually pre-order a book or look out for a book not yet published. However, I would say that I am definitely eyeing Career of Evil by the incredibly talented Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling. Unusually for me, I pre-ordered and read both of the first two Cormoran Strike books as soon as they were released, and this, the third, well, I am privy to Father Christmas’s secrets and I know this is going to be under the tree for me (because I bought it – man, the fun really goes out of Christmas when all of a sudden you and Santa are one and the same thing!)

I loved the first two books because J.K. Rowling is a writing master, because her evocation of London is so accurate (and knowing London intimately, having lived 20 years there, I never cease to get pleasure from reading about Strike walking down a particular lane and thinking ‘I’ve been there’), and because her stories were intelligent, detailed and fabulous. I have high hopes for this book. I suspect that come Christmas Night, I’ll be putting the food-filled kids to bed early and curling up with some chilled Prosecco (it’s hot here, remember?) and my new book. I can’t wait.

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