Back Home, Back To Reading

I have now been back Home for a week, and things have changed in unexpected, beautiful ways. Back at CrimeFest15 I was asked by a few people whether Books & Reviews was still running or not. The last six months have been quite an adventure, and my reading suffered from it. I tried to keep up with my PhD reading, and that left me feeling exhausted once I was back home, so my non-official reading was almost non-existent.

However, a wonderful trip to Swansea and the lovely bunch of people I met there have radically changed this for me. And I know this because I’m back to reading. It is not that I have to read, I want to. I need to. Watching TV does not work anymore – at least not as much as it did three months ago – and I feel a hunger for books, for stories, and for words. And it is thanks to people who I can now call my friends that I can do this. If any of you ever stumble upon this post, thank you :)

Forensics

My first book on my back-to-reading era is Forensics by Val McDermid. This book was created as a companion to the Wellcome Trust exhibition with the same name that has been running since February in the organisation’s building in London. McDermid does a terrific job revising the history of forensic science and making it available for non-scientific readers. I have even had the pleasure of commenting my reading with her on Twitter, because apart from doing excellent research, she consistently uses ‘she’ instead of ‘he’ to refer to generic individuals, and… it was about time!

As for more reading, I am writing this on a stay-at-home Saturday evening, counting the minutes until writing has made it for me to rush back to my To-Be-Read pile and pick another book to enjoy. I have never been good at parallel reading, but if I’ve learned something these past months is that things change. And that’s OK.

CrimeFest 2015 (Or The Time of My Life!)

This year I actually made it to CrimeFest 2015 held at the Royal Marriott Hotel in Bristol, and as you can imagine, I fangirled my way through it. I got to meet some of my favourite authors and bloggers, and I was asked a few times if Books & Reviews is till running, which I can say yes. My PhD, a bad break up and lots of travelling have kept me busy for the last months, but now I’m back!

And here they are, the pictures of me with every author, blogger and publisher who spent more than 5 minutes with me:

With Mrs. Peabody

With Mrs. Peabody

With Sarah Ward, finally!

With Sarah Ward, finally!

With author Sarah Hilary

With author Sarah Hilary

Playing anagrams

Playing anagrams

'The Rejects' - My team for the Crime Quiz

‘The Rejects’ – My team for the Crime Quiz

With author (and B&R fan!) Helen Giltrow

With author (and B&R fan!) Helen Giltrow

With author Quentin Bates

With author Quentin Bates

With Elizabeth Preston from S&S

With Elizabeth Preston from S&S

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll – Review for the Los Angeles Review of Books

I am veeeery please to share with you my first review for the Los Angeles Review of Books, which you can read here or clicking on the image below. It has been my first experience outside of Books & Reviews as a professional reviewer and one that I hope to continue on doing. Jessica Knoll’s debut novel Luckiest Girl Alive is one of the best books that I have read in 2015, and I now it will make it to many of your Best Books of 2015 list as well.

Luckiest Girl Alive Review

Review for Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive

The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney

I started reading The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney in the worst time possible. I was going through a lot and, now that things have improved and I am back to writing and reading, I do not remember most of the book.

The Liar's Chair by Rebecca Whitney - Review

Rachel Teller, the main character, leads a perfect life in England with her handsome husband, in a huge, luxurious house. However, this is all a lie because Rachel is being psychologically and physically abused by her husband almost on a daily basis. Whitney’s narration is so powerful that I found my own moods reflecting Rachel’s. Rachel and I shared lack of sleep and appetite, and the need to pull a brave face some days, because life has to go on.

I really think that because the narration made time feel as slow and as dense as some difficult times do, that I cannot remember most of The Liar’s Chair. However, when a text is so powerful, it does deserve another chance.

Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan (Zigic and Ferreira #2)

I was offered a review copy of Eva Dolan’s second novel in the Zigic and Ferreira, Tell No Tales, series a long time ago, actually, last year. I had never heard either of the series or of Dolan, so I thought I would rather wait to learn more about the series before reading the book. It was a huge mistake.

Tell No Tales by Eva Dolan (Zigic and Ferreira #2) - Review

‘Zigic and Ferreira’ stands for DI Zigic and DS Ferreira from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit, and in Tale No Tales they face the mysterious hit-and-run of a young, Eastern-European. It sounds like a no-brainer since the victim’s sister, and actually a few other witnesses, survived the attack. However, the investigation will take Zigic and Ferreira into the UK’s most conservative and nationalist political parties, closely related to neo-nazi groups.

If you have been reading this blog for some time, you can more or less guess my politics. And Tell No Tales makes a fantastic job of highlighting and criticizing the turn to right-wing politics and parties that has plagued Europe in the last decade. Dolan puts her two main detectives – both descendants from migrants and with names that immediately call them out as non-Anglo-Saxons – face to face with the covert racial discourses that have recently gained power. Because, one thing that Dolan makes very clear is that discriminatory political discourses are a subtext to the actual political discourse. It is not often that crime fiction does such a textual and ideological analysis of present-day politics, so I was very pleased to see that current issues are being inscribed in modern crime fiction.

The other thing that called my attention is Dolan’s decision to have two main characters who work at the Hate Crimes Unit instead of at Homicides. I can’t remember any other detective doing this type of job, even though hate crimes – in which I include domestic violence – are an issue, they are not as glamorous or attractive to the reader. In Tell No Tales there is a hard job to do, and although Dolan builds on the glamour of over-worked, over-caffeinated police detective work, she makes it clear that Zigic and Ferreira are facing a disgusting side of society.

So, even though I have not read Zigic and Ferriera #1, I loved Tell No Tales and I highly recommend it anyone who loves crime fiction and wants to diversify their shelves. If you want to read a review about book #1 Long Way Home, Sarah Ward said, after reading it, that Zigic and Ferreira could become her favourite detectives!

Long Time, No See! Spring Break, Life and Reading

If you check my last update, you can see that it’s been almost a month since I last wrote here. The reasons are many, varied, and come from very different events in my life. But life means change, and living means getting used to these changes the best you can, with the help of your beloved ones (to whom I will forever be grateful!). So bear with me, because there is no better way than to read through everything in life, both good and bad :)

It’s a little tradition over here to discuss Spring Break, because right before I go on holidays in March I usually feel I need a break like a need breathing. Now that things are slowly going back on track – or off, but there’s change! – I plan on spending my deserved Spring Break peacefully reading, although I was just noticed today that some paperwork needs to be taken care of.

I am currently reading Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll and I love it, but I can’t tell you more because it is the first book I am reviewing as a (semi?) professional reviewer for Los Angeles Review of Books, a place where people share my love for all things Foucault.

As usual, I have no idea what I will read next, but I have been so lucky as to have Irish crime writer Janey Casey send me two of the novels in her Maeve Kerrigan series. Talking about Ireland – a country to which I profess an irrational love – I finally bought a second-hand edition of Tana French’s In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1). I have heard only wonderful things about her and her works, all by people whose taste and criteria I trust, so I am very excited to get to know her. And, I also finally bought Gone, Baby Gone by Denis Lehane, because a good friend of mine has been insisting on how much I would love the novel.

You have been writing a lot, so I will check all the posts on my Feedly, even though they are more than 100. I just don’t feel comfortable hitting the ‘Mark All as Read’ buttom, because I follow many of you on Twitter, and I have seen some very interesting reviews going around. I just need a good cup of coffee and a few days to read them all.

Because I’ve been away a long time, so I would love to hear what you’re reading and what you’re doing on Spring Break. Any reading planned?

Waterstones Killer Crime Festival

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Waterstones and Harper Collins are organising a very interesting event – both physical and online – for crime fiction fans, readers, authors and publishers. The Festival will take place on Friday, 13 March 2015 at 14:00 and Saturday, 14 March 2015 at 20:00 (GMT)

Books & Reviews has been asked to participate as a blog, but I will keep you posted on upcoming surprises ;)

Meanwhile, you can find more information here.