I was talking last night with a good friend in a steamy coffee shop. As we looked out the windows overlooking the nearby park, we admired the trees dotted with tiny white lights. The bare branches swayed in the cold wind and blew little, snowy tornadoes around pedestrians feet.
We'd been talking about the press of the holiday season, the acrid scent of espresso mixing with wet boots and newspaper in the cozy space.
“I wasn’t going to start it until January,” my friend A., admitted, referring to a new novel she’d recently purchased. “But I started reading and it was so good I had to keep going.”
Maybe you are a little like me and A. You want to feel holly and jolly every second of the holiday season, but instead you feel tired and frazzled by all there is to do/buy/see/wrap/bake/plan/store...and are secretly looking forward to the dead-boring days of January.
I love Christmas. But it’s completely possible to love something in theory and feel overwhelmed by it in reality.
Something that really helps me, especially during this hectic time of the year, is continuing my “fiction fixes”. These are short segments of time where you can just sit down and lose yourself in a good book. Five minutes? 10 or more? It really doesn’t matter. Just being able to let go of all the other stuff and dive into a story is refreshing.
Like meditation, fiction fixes help you to calm an overly-busy mind. It’s amazing how quickly your outlook can change with just a few minutes between the pages of a good book. This study by PubMed points to real health benefits.
I enjoy my fiction fix most days of the week after lunch. I curl up in the corner of the couch, sometimes with a hot beverage and delve into my current novel.
Want to try a fiction fix yourself but aren’t sure what to read? Check out all of my Reading Recommendation vlogs over on YouTube. I’m looking forward to reading these books (below) in the next couple of months. Maybe one will pique your interest:
If you watched my recent vlog, November Reading Recommendations, you know that I fell in love with the book, Ruler of the Night, by David Morrell. While I inadvertently purchased this, the third in the Thomas and Emily De Quincey series, I'm now going to backtrack and read books 1 and 2. Murder as a Fine Art is the first in this Victorian-thriller series.
I recently learned the (very exciting!) news that Jennifer McMahon has a new book coming out this spring. Which got me thinking--I still haven't gotten around to her newest book, Burn Town. I loved the first of her books I read, The Winter People, and have gone on to read several others which were all page turners. Definitely adding Burn Town to my #TBR list.
Listening to a good outdoor adventure podcast today, S'more Outdoors--sadly, now on hiatus but lots of good listening in the archives--I heard an interview of Kate Dyer-Seeley. Kate writes a lot of cozy mysteries. While I'm not a huge fan of cozies, I am intrigued by her Pacific Northwest Mystery series. In it, a bumbling 20-something poses as an adventurer in order to score a lucrative gig with an outdoor magazine...when things head south.
I love reading about protagonists who are writers and adore books set in nature. Definitely want to grab a copy of the first in series, Scene of the Climb, soon.
Every so often, I need a good palate cleanser. You know how you feel after eating too much chocolate (it happens--rarely, but it does happen) and want pretzels or something else salty to get rid of the too-sweet taste in your mouth?
Sometimes I get this way with books. While I adore mystery/suspense novels, once in awhile I need a little break. When it's time to veer outside that genre next, I'm going to reach for Michele Deppe's, These Blue Remembered Hills. I've read and enjoyed all of her other novels. Think Rosamund Pilcher combined with a little Agatha Christie and some Sophia Kinsella to round things out.
How about you?
One of the reasons I love this blog is that it puts me in touch with other readers. So tell me: what's on your to-be-read list? Or which of the New York Times bestsellers (or better yet, never-heard-of authors) are you most looking forward to reading this holiday season?
Happy early Thanksgiving to all my USA readers. This is one of my favorite holidays because it's so, well, un-holiday'ish. The lack of commercialism makes it more special (though Black Friday sits like a gloomy cloud on the horizon). Wherever you are, I hope you'll take a moment today to express your gratitude in some small way.
I'm thankful for BOOKS, especially great books like the one I talk about in today's vlog. What do you think?
I'm not sure about where you live, but here in Vermont, "buying local" is a big thing. It usually refers to food (we have a lot of great farms in the state) but sometimes refers to other things such as buying from your local, small business instead of a big box store.
Reading local is something that I'm interested in. Turns out, I'm not the only one. I'm seeing more and more libraries in the area with special displays of local authors, and small, independent book stores, too.
Wouldn't it be fun to create a challenge and try to read more local authors? I'm still toying with ideas of how to do this...
In the meantime I learned that semi-local author, Louise Penny, has a new book coming out this year. Kay at Kay's Reading Life just posted about it. If you're a fan of Ms. Penny's then you'll definitely want to snag a copy when Kingdom of the Blind comes out.
Another local author whose book I'm enjoying right now is Beth Kanell's. Her most recent novel is called, The Long Shadow, and is a historical YA mystery. I'd started this book, gotten bogged down with other things and just picked it up again. I'm so glad that I did! Ms. Kanell's voice is true and pure, her attention to historical detail is mind-blowing and the story is thoroughly enjoyable.
What local books do you like? Is there a local author who you'd love to meet? Please share in the comments.
Suspense I'm reading:
Whew! Are you struggling as I am right now with the heat and humidity? In Vermont, we normally enjoy green, cool'ish summers, full of rainy days, sunny days and very often, a mix of the two in the same 24-hours. Not this year! This summer has been hot...really hot for our northern climate, and extra muggy too. I have to admit--this is my least favorite weather. This and the sub-zero temperatures that we often get in January and February. But then at least you don't feel guilty for not going outside! I'm definitely a 60s and 70s degree kinda girl and LOVE autumn and spring.
Despite the weather (or because of it?), I've been able to lose myself in some great suspense books lately. I just finished The House of Closed Doors by Jane Steen. As you know, I don't do book reviews here on the blog, only recommendations. I really enjoyed this novel. It's historical fiction (as you probably guessed from the lovely cover) and I did a little blurb about it recently in my video newsletter. I found The House of Closed Doors to be a great mix of family drama, history, and mystery. Check it out for yourself via the author's website, on Amazon or your local indie bookstore.
I've just delved into Ruth Ware's, The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I first fell in love with Ruth's work when I heard the audio version of her book The Woman in Cabin 10. I thoroughly enjoyed it and when on to read more books by this author. This is my fourth Ruth Ware novel and I have not been disappointed!
The Death of Mrs. Westaway follows a 20-something woman, "Hal" Westaway who works as a (skeptical) psychic, following in her deceased mother's footsteps. When Hal receives a letter notifying her that her grandmother has died and that she is a beneficiary, Hal is perplexed. Her grandmother has already died, so clearly this letter is a mistake.
Still, she's excited (Hal has serious money problems) but also filled with unease. While this woman wasn't her actual grandmother, Hal journeys to the estate anyway. It's a dark, creepy place swamped with magpies--the perfect Gothic setting. :) There she meets her "family" a mix of dark and light characters, each with their own mysterious issues...
Have you heard of this book yet? Want to check it out? Learn more about it via the author's website, on Goodreads, or snag a copy on Amazon or at your local bookshop.
Suspense I'm Writing:
I have to admit something here and now: I've never been a fan of short stories. I don't like reading them. Just when I'm getting really into the story, it's done. I don't like writing them. Very often it's harder to condense a story into 2000-10,000 words than it is to flesh out a full novel.
But, I do love to try experiments. And one of my newest is playing with short stories in between writing novels. I wrote one recently called, Runaway Train, for a contest (the first I've entered in many years--still just as nerve-wracking as I remember!). And now I'm working on one that has a working title of The Mansion. (Original title, I know.) I'm learning some fun facts about slang of the 1920s, as both stories are set there--not on purpose, it just turned out that way. Here are a few of my favorite slang terms from the Roaring 20s:
What are you reading this week? Or what's in your #TBR pile that you can't wait to start?
Had to share a picture of my "new" reading room (OK, it's a corner of my office). I nabbed a free bookcase last week and partnered it with another, older bookcase I inherited. Added in my grandmother's recovered (and super comfortable) chair and voila! A new reading nook. My kid pointed out that I need more books. Just what every bookworm dreams of hearing!
This week I'm doing something a little different: video book recommendations. You can check out my newest video on YouTube. I discuss two great suspense books I recently read and two more on my TBR list. Where's YOUR favorite place to curl up with a good book?
Welcome to the website of author J.P. Choquette (pronounced, "show-kett"). Join the Reader Group and nab a free short story, along with the latest news, goodies, upcoming event announcements and more.
Already read a book? Have you checked out her other suspense novels?