The Travelling Suitcase Libraries’ Christmas Recommendations, ( because sometimes, you have to buy the books…)

Do you despair at the readers in your life preferring trash to treasure? At the Travelling Suitcase Library we believe there’s nothing wrong with that! This Christmas, why not treat them to something you know they’ll enjoy. These are some of the most popular titles that I’ve lent out in the past year. I hope that your readers enjoy them.

For the Twilight fan in your life…House of Night series by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
I know vampires are sooo 2009, but this ever-growing series set in a ‘school for vampyres’ (so the best bits of Harry and Edward combined) flies of the shelves, is easy to get into and also features openly gay characters, a rarity in YA fiction. ‘Marked’ is the first one, but at £10.50 for the first three on Amazon this is an easy stocking filler for love-struck teens.

Sleep Pale Sister by Joanne Harris
Before Chocolat, Johnny Depp and world wide fame, Yorkshire writer Joanne Harris wrote hauntingly beautiful gothic thrillers. Sleep Pale Sister is the story of Effie, Victorian artist’s model who is kept as a laudanum-addled bride by the sinister Henry Chester. When she meets her lover Mose, she is drawn into the ghostly story of Marta, a brothel keeper’s daughter, murdered ten years ago and planning her revenge. Yes the subject matter is slightly risky for younger readers, but this is guaranteed to thrill fans of the gothic, and acts as a nice little introduction to ‘grown up’ books.

The Glass Lake by Meave Binchey.
I know, I know, but work with me here. This book has everything a Twilight fan requires, apart from the fangs. Teenage drama and am embarrassing family? Check. Strange mystery surrounding loved one? Check. Evolution of heroine from spoilt small town princess to grown modern women? Check. Everlasting love? Check. The least ‘provincial’ of Binchey’s books, this is the story of Kit, who’s beautiful, if odd mother tragically disappears in the lake near her small Irish town. As Kit grows up the mystery surrounding the supposed death deepens until she receives a letter from her mother’s childhood friend… I love this book, which I first read when I was twelve, and would recommend it as a great way to wean your teen off the vamps. Plus it’s a good three inches thick, which as any serious teen bookworm knows, are the only books worth checking out these days!

For the Jodi Picault fan in your life…The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
Less weepy, more pacy than Picault, Chamberlain again is from the ‘tell don’t show’ school of writing hated by Creative Writing students but loved by readers who want chunky heated storylines without the commitment of literary prose. This is the story of foolish love struck teen CeeCee, who has vital information on the murder of Genevieve Russell which tears apart her whole family. Gripping and movingly written, recommended.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
A ‘fictional story’ based heavily on the life of Laura Bush, this book is as fascinating as it is frustrating. Almost a justification for her action, Alice Blackwell looks back on her life leading up the last year of her husband’s presidency. You’ll love, then hate her. Sittenfeld is a wonderful writer and the depiction of America throughout the 60s to the present day is nostalgic and insightful, as well as impeccably researched.

The Girls by Lori Lansens
Absolutely riveting story of two conjoined twins living in small town Canada. This will appeal to Picault fans for its empathetic rendorings of the twin sister’s thought, and dreams. Although the writing is not consistant throughout, with the opening chapters being by far the best in the book, the amazing characterisations of Rose and Ruby and the pathos behind their condition makes this a weepy, but a goody.

For the Phillippa Gragory fan in your life
The King’s Daughter by Christie Dickason
Similar in premise to Gregory’s Tudor court novels, this takes a woman from history and re-works her story with a slightly more modern emphasis. The King’s Daughter is the tale of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James IV of Scotland, I of England and is absolutely fascinating. I have no idea how historically accurate this book is, but if they’re an ardent Gregory fan then historical accuracy really isn’t going to be the be all and end all is it. At the end of the day it’s a damn good yarn and has a sparkly cover with a ruff on it, what more do you need?

Crown in Candlelight by Rosemary Hawley Jarman
This is one of those writers that was massive back in the day, and deserves to become popular again. Writing of the Plantagenet era, Hawley Jarman’s pen pours beautiful flowery prose that just weeps along with you. This is my favourite of hers’, Katherine of Valios, raised in the mad corrupt dangerous world of the French court in the early 1400s marries the conquering English King Henry V (him off Agincourt). After the King’s death she falls for a certain Welsh archer, Owen Tudor, founding a rather more famous (if the world of publishing will have anything to do with it anyways) dynasty. Wonderful stuff.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Because it is so good I can hardly speak. And if they’re as big a Tudor buff as they like to make out, then there will be no need to have a pen and paper to hand to keep track of the thousand and one characters called ‘Thomas’.

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Lady Fest Ahoy!

Due to the final part of the incredibly exciting Travelling Suitcase Library On Tour taking me to LadyFest Ten in London Town from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th November, there will be no book swap at Arcadia on that Sunday...

... or at least one that I will be attending.

However, if you love books and want to swap with other people who also love books, why not just turn up and find each other? It's a lovely pub, does decent food and cracking beer and you should all just do a swap anyway without me...

anyone who is coming to LadyFest (and I strongly recommend you do as it looks flipping awesome) then check out the website for more details of where I'm going to be, and the other great literary events taking place.

The tour has been a great, if very tiring experience. Big up the #bettakultcha and Morley Lit Fest and Theatre in the Mill crus for putting up with me, hopefully more tour dates to come in the future!

Happy Reading!
Jess x

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