Maybe it’s being in the middle of the first draft stage of writing a book (Hathe part 3 – Jacquel’s story), but I’m currently on a re-reading splurge. I love my old favourites, the books I come back to time and again. Sometimes it may be years apart, but it’s just like meeting an old friend. Time slips away to nothing as you fall under the spell of well-loved words again.
I’m a long time Dorothy Dunnett fan – I don’t know how many times I’ve read her Lymond series – but recently I started on a repeat of her Niccolo series, set in the fourteenth century world of merchants and traders. Niccolo isn’t Lymond, the fascination is quieter, and less obvious, but he is as layered and as fatally endowed with genius. Book one down, (Niccolo Rising) – an old copy I bought many years ago – now I have to find the rest of the series. I usually read books on Kindle, but for some reason, Dunnett’s books feel best in paper. Plus she includes maps – and they are always easier to read in a paper book.
Next I’m venturing into another old favourite – Dune by Frank Herbert. Classic science fiction at it’s most inventive and politically challenging. I love the layers in the Dune series, the political edge and the sharp cynicism of the characters, hiding deep wells of emotion. But Dune was also the first science fiction book I remember reading that wasn’t about space and space travel. Rather it relies on the planet based sciences. Yes, space and a galaxy spanning empire are there, but dominating everything in Dune is the planet Arrakis. A bleak, impossibly dry world, this is a book where the story is driven by the setting, where a character ignores Arrakis at his or her peril. Work with it and live; fight it and you will die. Dune forced readers to look at the ecology of worlds, to consider how people live with or against their world. An exciting idea now, cutting edge in this time of climate peril, but Dune was published in 1965. And I’m delighted to report it reads as well now as it did when I first discovered it. The version I’m reading is an old paperback I found in a second hand book shop (love those shops. A treasure trove of exciting finds and fabulous smells of old books) – and it’s got maps too!
I am in the middle of a new book also. Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop, the latest in her series about ‘The Others’. If you haven’t discovered Anne Bishop yet and you love edgy urban fantasy, or just any book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go till finished, log in to Amazon immediately. She is absolutely brilliant. Don’t ask me to say what it is about her writing that works so well, but her books are edgy, fascinating, touched with horror, passion, love and hate, emotionally rich and yet her prose has a compellingly everyday feel to it. Once tried, her books are never forgotten. I cried my eyes out when I read a scene in “Twilight’s Dawn”, from her Black Jewels series, and that is the mark of a book that lives in the heart.
There’s so many more waiting. Francis Housden’s latest Scottish romance: Bride from the Sea. I read an early draft of this and loved it. Susan Grant’s scifi romance The Star Princess , the third book in her Star series, a family epic featuring romances between contemporary earth people and the rulers of a galaxy wide domain newly in contact with our planet. Great fun. Plus a pile of paper backs I’ve collected sitting beside my bed and staring at me reproachfully. That’s the problem with paperbacks – their covers are so lovely, I do like occasionally reading a ‘real book’, but my precious paperwhite kindle is so easy to use, I can take it anywhere, and the light means I can read in bed no matter what hour of the night I wake up.
TORN (Arcadia series 1) – out now.
Two ecological engineers must change their world to save it, no matter the cost to all they love. Unless something is done, soon, their planet is going to hit back. “Storms, floods, drought. Don’t bother taking your pick,” says the planet Arcadia, “you’re going to get the lot.”
Available in print (Createspace) and all good e-book retailers.