Most Read Authors

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Ever since I started reading independently, and choosing books for myself, I’ve racked up quite a few books by the same author. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than waiting with bated breath for an author to release their new book and sliding it onto your shelf alongside their others. So over the years, here are the authors I’ve read (and loved) the most.

These books are in no particular order.

(Disclaimer: I’ve tried not to include authors whose series I’ve read)

1.

Dorothy Koomson

 

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Fiction and storytelling were still a HUGE passion of mine and I continued to write short stories and novels every spare moment that I got. In 2001 I had the idea for The Cupid Effect and my career as a published novelist began. – from Goodreads.com

My sister bought me The Cupid Effect when I was a teenager and I gobbled it up. Luckily, Dorothy Koomson is one of those authors than manages to release a book every year, so I didn’t have to wait long for my next read. I got a bit out of sync with the releases whilst I was at university, but so far I’ve read eight of her twelve books!

2.

Jacqueline Wilson

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One of Jacqueline’s most successful and enduring creations has been the famous Tracy Beaker, who first appeared in 1991 in The Story of Tracy Beaker. This was also the first of her books to be illustrated by Nick Sharratt. – from Goodreads.com

I, like most young kids, was introduced to the world of Jaqueline Wilson thanks to the TV show of Tracy Beaker on CBBC. Cue me reading every single Jaqueline Wilson book ever released! I don’t think there was a kid in my school who didn’t read and love JW books. They became a cornerstone of a 90s kid’s childhood!

3.

E Lockhart

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E. Lockhart is the author of Genuine Fraud, We Were Liars, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Boyfriend List and several other novels. – from Goodreads.com

The Boyfriend List was gifted to me when I was 14 by my Mum and I absolutely adored it. I didn’t read another E Lockhart book until We Were Liars, released in 2014, but I made the effort to go back and read all of the books I’d missed. I haven’t caught up with the Ruby Oliver series yet, but Lockhart’s latest, Genuine Fraud, is down to be one of my favourites of the year!

4.

Roald Dahl

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His first children’s book was The Gremlins, about mischievous little creatures that were part of RAF folklore. The book was commissioned by Walt Disney for a film that was never made, and published in 1943. Dahl went on to create some of the best-loved children’s stories of the 20th century, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach. – from Goodreads.com

All of Roald Dahl’s books were published before I was born, so after reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory first, I methodically went through and read all of Dahl’s books throughout my childhood. I haven’t read all of them, but some of his stories are my absolute favourites, and I hold a soft spot for Dirty Beasts and Revolting Rhymes. I think it’s where my love of poetry was born!

5.

John Green

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John Green’s first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. – from Goodreads.com

John Green’s Looking for Alaska really kick-started my love of YA when I first read it in 2011. I didn’t actually get into YA properly until 2014 but this book always held a special place in my heart, and still does! Then, when The Fault in Our Stars was released in 2012, I quickly ordered the rest of his books and went on a binge reading spree to get caught up. I’m so excited for Turtles All the Way Down to be released this October!

So these are the authors whose books I’ve read the most! Are any of these authors on your list? Or do you have different authors whose books you’ve read the most? Let me know in the comments!

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Best Books of Jul-Aug-Sep

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I’ve been rounding up my favourite books every quarter, as some of the books I read and love don’t quite make it to my end of year list. This is the third blog post I’ve done, which means we’re about three-quarters of the way through the year. At this rate, it will be almost Christmas! So here are the books I’ve really liked in the last three months, ones I’m not sure that will make the final list.

These books are in no particular order.

1.

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

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Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; but Harper can’t escape the guilt of her twin sister’s Jenna’s death, and her own part in it – and she knows noone else will ever really understand. But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Then Kirsty’s behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper’s? And why is she so obsessed with Harper’s lost sister? How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her? – from Goodreads.com

I managed to get an ARC of this book on NetGalley. If you don’t know what NetGalley is, it’s a website where you can apply for and download advanced reader copies granted by the publishers. Cat Clarke’s latest book gave me some serious Pretty Little Liars vibes!

2.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

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This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil. But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed. – from Goodreads.com

I found my copy of this book in an Oxfam Bookshop and read a decent chunk of it on the train home! The friendship between Sophie and Agatha really reminded me of Elphaba and Glinda’s relationship in Wicked. Good and Evil! Not sure whether I’ll read the rest of the series but it was still super fun!

3.

Aurabel by Laura Dockrill

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It has been two years since Rory drowned, and Lorali is in Hastings, living the quiet life of a normal teenage girl. But her safe life on land won’t last for long. Life in The Whirl has become a hotbed of underwater politics and as the council jostles to oust the king, one Mer in particular has her eye on Lorali as the key to her own rise to power. Meanwhile, Aurabel, a lowly Mer from the wrong side of the trench, is attacked by sea beasts and left for dead – and without a tail. Raging with righteous anger, she rebuilds herself a mechanical tail and reinvents herself as a fearless steampunk Mer seeking revenge. But she never expected the most important job that was about to drop into her lap. – from Goodreads.com

Lorali by Laura Dockrill holds a special place in my heart, as it’s set in a nearby town to me called Hastings! Not many people know about our little corner of the world, and so when we get a starring role, especially in a book about mermaids, it’s hard not to resist! So when the ARC for Aurabel was available to request on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance!

4.

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

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When Emma Sasha Silver loses her eyesight in a nightmare accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to recognizing her own sisters to imagining colors. One of seven children, Emma used to be the invisible kid, but now it seems everyone is watching her. And just as she’s about to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide. Fifteen and blind, Emma has to untangle what happened and why – in order to see for herself what makes life worth living. – from Goodreads.com

I’d had this eBook on my Kindle for a long time, but it was actually the audiobook on OverDrive that spurred me on to read it. It was amazing to hear about Emma’s story, and how the feelings of loss and bereavement could be applied in this situation.

5.

STAGS by M.A. Bennett

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Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, the students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school… – from Goodreads.com

STAGS was another NetGalley ARC and was quite a hyped release on Goodreads and Booktube. Again, it gave me Pretty Little Liars vibes and was quite an exciting read. I felt overall it needed more pace but it’s certainly in the same vein as Cat Clarke in terms of mystery and thrills! A definite must-read for fans of Clarke’s books.

So this concludes my list of books I really enjoyed in the last three months. Did you read any of these books? Or do you want to recommend some you think I’ll like? Let me know in the comments!

Author Interview: A Solitary Romance by Violet Sparks

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Are you looking for the perfect summer contemporary? Something to read on holiday, on a sun lounger, cocktail in hand? Look no further.

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Violet Sparks has released her debut romance novel, A Solitary Romance, and the first book in the Only Love series, which follows Katrina Crimshaw and her double life. An auditor by day and jewelry blogger at night, she meets the man of her dreams and her life becomes even more complicated. Juggling success under a pen name with her day job and continued encounters with Robert, a man from her past that she adored from afar, proves complicated for the shy bean counter. When an attractive museum director enters her life, all bets are off as the day dreaming Katrina tries to make sense of her predicament.
When passion flares in this second chance romance, will she let love slip through her fingers again?

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Violet on the ins and outs of being an author.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I generally write in the third person limited or omniscient style.  I have to say, I begin by the seat of my pants and allow my characters full reign.  About one-third to half-way through the book, I’ll sit down and outline the rest of the novel to keep things on track.  At this point, I’ve got a good idea where all the personalities will end up.

How did you come up with the title?

The main character, Katrina Crimshaw, is a jewelry aficionado.  She runs into a man from her past, someone she found incredibly attractive but was too shy to pursue.  I combined the idea of a solitaire ring, representing her love of jewels, with the loneliness that sometimes accompanies someone who is fearful or shy, and came up with A Solitary Romance.

What books have most influenced your life most?

The Bible has had the biggest impact on my life.  The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk who lived in the 1600s, is an amazing book that I can read over and over.  Coming Out of the Ice by Victor Herman also affected me—it’s a wonderful tribute to the human spirit.  I can’t leave out the books by Dickens, Austen, and the Brontë sisters, which I read in my youth.  Their works definitely lent an idealism to my mindset (which does not seem to belong to this century!), and shaped my ideas of what romance and love should be. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice to other writers is to keep on writing!  Find a good editor you enjoy working with and don’t rush your writing process.  Read and write as much as possible and do not allow others to discourage you. 

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

I’ve always loved how Charles Dickens could weave a story together with unforgettable characters and intersecting plots.  I appreciate how he inserted humor in his books as well.  I admire the way William Faulkner packed a punch and how the Brontës created amazing atmospheres, including unexpected twists in their stories.  The contemporary author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, is a master of characters, atmosphere, and storylines.   

What genre do you consider your book(s)?

A Solitary Romance is a sweet, or clean and wholesome, romance.  It is book one of the Only Love Series, which currently consists of three books.  I have also written mysteries under a pen name.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I haven’t yet had a serious writer’s block.  With every book, I do come to a place where I just have to grind out the story.  I don’t particularly enjoy this part of my writing process, but I’ve yet to escape this phase.  Luckily, it only lasts for a chapter or two, and then I’m over the hump.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

I would not say that I’ve hated any of my work.  Anything can be polished, rewritten, examined with a fresh eye, or edited for improvement.  I do go through some fear each time I start a new book.  Will I be able to come up with anything funny?  Can I do the characters justice?  Will unnecessary details hinder the story?  In other words, how can I possibly pull this off?

What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

I cannot pick a favorite a genre.  All of my books have at least a hint of romance, so maybe that’s my top choice.  The Only Love Series is straight-up romance, although the third book, A Calculated Romance, has a touch of suspense and mystery.  I like to incorporate a twist or even several unexpected events in my novels, so that’s a theme to look for.

Where did your love of writing come from?

I have always loved storytelling.  My mother used to catch me as a toddler making up stories for my own entertainment.  She fostered my love of writing by introducing me to classic literature in grade school, and I won writing awards as a teen.  Then, life and career got in the way.  I always hoped to return to writing, and the encouragement of a friend got the ball rolling for me. 

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part of penning A Solitary Romance was just taking the plunge.  I experienced a personal loss around the time that the idea started to sprout.  I think this book provided a much needed distraction during those first, early stages of grief.  With its overall light tone, the writing allowed me a welcome reprieve from reality.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

A Solitary Romance is ever so slightly autobiographical.  I enjoyed reliving my early career days and the fun I had with one of my girl pals.  Also, because everything in the book felt familiar, it required little research.  I appreciated how my writing could flow without stopping to investigate other subjects.  Because I love the arts, I savored drawing on my experiences at a major auction house.  There’s a scene in the book where a character helps her friend squeeze into a gown in a dressing room by very creative means.  This actually happened, and my friend managed to fit me in that tight, red dress by the same method!  Just thinking about that little episode brings a smile to my face!

Do you write every single day?

I find I produce my best work when I am writing every day.  I aim to write six days a week, although I’ve slipped off a little this summer since my children are out of school.

Which writers inspire you?

So many authors inspire me.  At the top of the list are Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, the Brontës, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Irène Némirovsky for her spectacular, unfinished, Suite Française.  I went through a stage where I only read history or biographies, and I greatly admire the work of David McCullough.  His books read like novels and bring the people of the past alive.  I always appreciate any writer who can surprise me with a plot twist or unexpected outcome.

What are you working on at the minute?

I am beginning the research for a novel set in the medieval period.

What is your latest book about?

My latest book is third in the Only Love Series, A Calculated Romance.  This is the story of Katrina’s assistant, a young rock hound named Landi, and what happens when her path crosses with that of James Crimshaw.  James is featured in the first three books of the series.  He is Kate’s brother and a naval intelligence officer.  Both he and Landi have murky pasts and a strong attraction to each other.

A Solitary Romance is available to buy from Amazon

Find out more about Violet’s books at: https://violetsparksauthor.com

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Author Interview: The Last Roadshow by John Czarnota

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Joe Knocker’s lucrative career as a rogue art thief who trailed the Antiques Roadshow for over a decade is interrupted by a life-changing encounter with his past. The result, a cross-country trek to make right one of the nation’s wrongs by retrieving a national treasure, leads to a heart attack, a missing body, a kidnapping, a promising romance, a showdown, and a shocking reunion. Interweaving historical fact with psychological insight and colorful characters, The Last Roadshow takes us on an unforgettable redemptive journey.

In Czarnota’s debut mystery novel, we catch a glimpse at the life of Joe Knocker. ‘Everything about him was plain and boring. In a few minutes you would have forgotten you ever saw him. That’s what he counted on.’ Mr Czarnota was kind enough to sit down with us and talk through why Joe Knocker’s ordinary life was so compelling to write about.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  – The middle. Filling it in.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?The dialogue. For me, it’s the biggest challenge. Also the most enjoyable. 
Do you write every single day? No. But I think about what I’m going to write every day. I’m always blocking scenes in, like a screenplay.
Which writers inspire you?Right now, I would have to say B.A. Shapiro. Her last two books, The Art Forger and The Muralist,  leave me wanting more. 
What are you working on at the minute?If you must know, a bottle of my Son-in-laws hand-crafted home-brew. 
What’s is your latest book about?  – A sequel to The Last Roadshow. 
 
What inspired you to write your book?At first this was going to be a screen play. I’ve written 2 in the past. But the bad taste of dealing with L.A. agents and the like came right back. So the thought of writing a book that I could have total control over if I so chose to was a no-brainer. On the business side, millions watch the Antiques Roadshow here, in Europe, and Australia. So there was a strong probability of a built in audience.
Do you have a specific writing style?Not yet.
How did you come up with the title?Most everything in the book happens after the Antiques Roadshow in Palm Springs, so it was an easy choice. The same for my design of the book jacket. 

Follow the virtual tour for The Last Roadshow via Book Bear’s Twitter to find out more.

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Praise for The Last Roadshow

It’s the Antiques Roadshow’s thirteenth season, and Raoul “Knocker” Reuin is sizing up his mark in Palm Springs — a well-dressed Native American man in a bolo tie, who has just had his 1920s-era John Sloan painting appraised at over $1 million. Knocker’s eyes light up with the expectation of a calculated theft later in the day and a fast $100,000 payday from fencing the purloined painting.

But things go awry for Knocker in this cleverly conceived novel by John Czarnota.

A former mark named Andy Wells tracks Knocker down in a hotel bar and confronts him about the theft two years earlier of his historic — and priceless — Lewis and Clark flag. In exchange for its safe return, however, he says he won’t press charges against Knocker.

The conversation leads to the disclosure of clues about who may now have the flag. All Knocker has to do is find him.

The trail leads back to the East Coast, where Knocker discovers that the art dealer — who has been financing his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife’s rest home care with money from fencing Knocker’s thefts over the years — is missing and presumed dead.

Knocker, however, traces the missing heirloom to the rest home’s chief executive, and he makes ingenious plans to get it back. Along the way, we meet a colorful ensemble cast of characters and learn a great deal about his other Road Show heists.

Does Knocker indeed retrieve the flag and return it to its rightful owner? You’ll just have to read this meticulously researched and well-written book to find out.

Five stars to this first-time novelist. It’s a rare read.

Don Sloan. Author, The Dark Forces series.

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You can find out more about John Czarnota and his upcoming publications here

The Last Roadshow is available at: Barnes and Noble or Amazon

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Places to Buy Cheap Books

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The way I see it, you can spend roughly £6 on a nice new paperback, which isn’t that expensive at all. Or you can go to a charity shop and buy 4-6 almost-as-good-as-new copies for the same price. I understand that when you buy books second hand, the author doesn’t get paid as they would if you bought from a main stream retailer, but some people cannot afford to buy books full price. That’s not a criticism against them, that’s just a fact of life.

I like to buy a mix of new and second hand books, because I like to support charities as well as authors. So buying books is one thing, but buying books cheaply, or on a budget is another matter entirely. Whatever your reasoning, I’m going to let you in on some of my book buying secrets I’ve found over my twenty-four years of book loving.

(I would just like to mention before we start that I live in the UK and so I can only speak for shipping to and from the UK, not other countries. I also HAVE NOT been sponsored by any of these companies. I just buy my books from them most of the time!)

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Amazon Market Place

This might seem relatively obvious, but Amazon Market Place is great and isn’t just for used books, it has a new option as well. It even grades how acceptable the copy is, and if you’re like me and you don’t mind a well-loved, battered, slightly annotated copy then this option is for you. Many smaller companies like  World of Books and Book Depository (both wonderful places to buy second hand or new books, see WoB’s 3-4-2 deal on their website and BD has free shipping!) both sell through Market Place so you can still buy through a name you know and trust. Most used books go for 1p on the Market Place, with £2.80 postage, so you’re likely to find something you like, in good condition, for a fraction of the price you would pay usually. Amazon also fulfills the postage options on some books so you can buy it alongside other Amazon products and combine the postage charge.

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Ebay

Most people associate Ebay with bidding for items, and that sweat-drenched countdown that occurs in a bidding war. Actually, there are many “buy now” options that also give you a good deal. Once again, World of Books and Book Depository and other book outlets also sell through Ebay so you’re likely to find you’re buying from a company you trust rather than an individual seller. That being said, a lot of people buy books, read them once and then sell them on for a fraction of the price, or alternatively a lot of unwanted Christmas books go up in the New Year so you could find an amazing deal.

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The Works

So, this may only be relevant if you’re a UK resident but The Works is a great place to buy cheap books. It’s billed as a craft store, and sells How-To and DIY books, but it also sells a good amount of fiction books too. On their website they recently had a deal for six fiction books for £10, which averages out at £2 a book, which is cheaper than Amazon Market Place and certainly cheaper that some charity shops. Which brings me onto my next topic…

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Charity Shops

Again, this may only be relevant if you’re a UK resident but charity shops are a massive thing in England (particularly the South, I think) but in America you might call them thrift stores, or maybe just second hand stores. In Bexhill, where I live, we have 24 charity shops (and counting) and I often like to wander the shelves and see what people have been reading. Once again, you find the books are often in mint condition, having been read once and then given away for the charities to sell. Big names include Oxfam who have stores dedicated to books! I have bought books for 10p ranging up to £2.50-£3 depending on the shop.

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Amazon Kindle

I know. I KNOW. Some people may feel that this option is sacrilegious to our beloved books. We cover their little ears when we talk about the controversial e-book, but hear me out people. HEAR ME OUT. E-books can, not always, but can be cheaper than physical books. I’ve downloaded a vast amount of free e-books, some being 10p, some 20p, some 50p, some £1 and they’re all relatively newly released books that you can have and to hold and read to your hearts content. AND You don’t need need to buy a Kindle to read them, you can just download the app (for free) and read book after book after book without having to carry them around with you. Kindle always offer Daily Deals too, and now that Audible is part of the Amazon family, you can upgrade your e-experience with an audiobook too. Just to give you a little taste of heaven, I bought E Lockhart’s We Were Liars on Kindle for 99p and then upgraded with audio for 99p. That’s a book and an audiobook for under £2!

So these are my trade secrets of the book world, take them, use them, abuse them (nicely) and go forth and buy books my young friends! Let me know in the comments if you get any good deals!