I love this time of year when we can draw the curtains, light the fire and hunker down with a good book.
We're spoilt for choice this year with some fantastic novels, memoirs and children's books to choose from. So it was even more difficult to select just a few recommendations for Lesley Dolphin as we met on the BBC Radio Suffolk Afternoon Programme this month to consider gifts for Christmas.
Of course I got carried away in my descriptions, so I didn't mention as many books as I intended. But I've listed them here and you can click and follow the links to my reviews, if you'd like to know more! And listen again to our chat here.
Don't forget too to sign up too my weekly e-newsletter here which gives latest news about author visits and books I'm reading. And browse my website for other reviews and recommendations.
And if it's not too early - Happy Christmas!
Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed by Catriona Davies
Lady in Waiting by Lady Anne Glenconner
Invisible Jumpers by Joseph Ford
Life on the Deben
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the The Horse by Charlie Macksey
Kind by Alison Green (for under 5 years, and adult!)
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
Grandmothers by Salley Vickers
Quick Roasting Tin Simple One Dish Dinners
After taking a bit of summer break from organising author events this year, we were back on track with a sell out audience for the fabulous Martin Walker this week.
These lunchtime crime writer sessions at Woodbridge Library are always well received, but this time we found ourselves hearing more about Burgundy than bodies as Martin delighted us with his descriptions of life at home in France. The food, the drink, the gardening, friendships, culture and way of life sounded wonderful, and of course it is all replicated in Martin's marvellous Death in the Dordogne series of books about Bruno the chief of police.
There was much laughter and everyone left telling me their spirits had been lifted.
So now we're looking ahead to another packed schedule of events. Next week we'll all be sitting up straight as we hear military historian Max Hastings bring us up to speed on his findings about the Dambusters, and a couple of days later we'll be pondering the extraordinary life of artist Stanley Spencer through the novel of Nicola Upson. It's a beautiful book and Nicola is such a warm and engaging speaker. If you're a fan of her Josephine Tey series of crime novels, you must come along to hear about 'Stanley and Elsie'.
And the dates for November are filling up. I've just released the tickets for Lindsay McCrae, the awardwinning BBC cameraman and his illustrated talk on 'My Penguin Year'. Having read an early proof of the book, I have to tell you it's fantastic! I can't wait to meet him to learn more, and I'm sure we'll get a large and attentive audience for that event in the library. Then the next day, cricket raconteur Henry Blofeld will be in the bookshop to sign copies of his latest book 'My A-Z of Cricket', a perfect Christmas present...
Yes, the summer's over, the children are back at school, and we're looking at the end of September already. Is it just me, or is time moving along too quickly? Important to get the dates in the diary straightaway then - don't want to miss hearing all these inspiring and fascinating authors!! Find out more by signing up to my mailing list here.
It was a busy day on Tuesday 7 May, as I hosted two author visits in the same day.
And they couldn't have been more different, yet were equally inspiring, entertaining and informative.
At lunchtime in Woodbridge library, we gathered to meet the hugely popular, bestselling crime writer John Connolly. He spoke at breakneck speed, but we were hanging on every word. I, for one, was particularly intrigued by his insights on the writing process. He told us that he has no unfinished works - he believes that it is essential for creative people never to abandon a project but always to see it to its conclusion.
In the evening, we were at Browsers Bookshop to hear first-time biographer, Oliver Soden talk about his experience discovering and relating the life of the great composer, Michael Tippett.
His 700 page account of the man behind the music has been receiving much attention and praise, and I was thrilled that we had such an appreciative audience, spanning the age range from GCSE students to wise retirees.
I've had tremendous feedback - we were all completely engrossed by all Oliver had to share with us, and we are sure he will go far. A very talented young man and a very memorable and magical evening.
If you missed these events, I hope you'll be able to join us in the future. You can sign up for my mailing list here to be among the first to know of forthcoming author visits. You can also read my reports of past events here.
On Friday 5th April long-standing favourite writer, Joanne Harris will be joining us to introduce her latest novel 'The Strawberry Thief'.
Do you remember 'Chocolat'? Can you believe it was almost 20 years ago since the book was published? It sold in its millions and was followed by the release of the Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp.
Joanne has written a number of books since then exploring magical realism, mythology and historical fiction, as well as a couple of cookery books! But her latest novel is a return to the chocolaterie on the square, the magic and mystery, and the lessons learned as characters in this small community push and pull together. I've read an advance copy and I didn't want to put it down, delighting in a sense of nostalgia and familiarity, and also reading about the beautiful, delicious confectionery and hot chocolates prepared by Vianne!
I hope you'll join me in meeting Joanne to learn about this book and to find out more of her views on writing and storytelling, and the world of publishing as a whole. She has much to share.
In a couple of weeks we'll be welcoming Elly Griffiths back to Woodbridge and the excitement is building.
If you remember, we've hosted Elly twice before. Each time, word spreads and her popularity as a writer and a speaker grows. Her audience is such that we have moved our event to Woodbridge Library to ensure we don't have to disappoint anyone who might like to join us.
Tickets are £18 to include a copy of the book, which retails at £18.99. I'm sure you'll agree that's good value, and you're supporting an independent high street business as well as the creator of the gripping Ruth Galloway series of books. But please don't delay - these tickets are flying out the door!
There are only a few more days until cookery writer Clodagh McKenna joins us in the bookshop.
If you've come along to any of the cookery events before, you'll know these are wonderful occasions, full of laughter, great ideas, and brilliant recipes to try.
Of course, for me, it's the usual panic as with any supper party, of getting the shopping done in time, ideas to keep the conversation going and moving the furniture.
There are still tickets available, so please don't leave it too late to tell me you're coming!
There are more author visits in the pipeline, and just confirmed is Matt Gaw, from Suffolk Wildlife Trust, who will be talking about his travels in a canoe through the nation's waterways in 'Pull of the River' on Wednesday 6 March.
Looking a little further ahead, another great thriller writer will be introducing her new book, set in Suffolk. On Thursday 11 April, Erin Kelly will talk about 'Stone Mothers' her novel about the impact of a mental hospital on its inmates, the local community, and lives generations later. Her research into the subject for this book is fascinating.
Erin is a great speaker and, for aspiring writers, is hugely inspiring with her tips on plotting and characterisation. Not to be missed!
I look forward to seeing you soon. Thank you for reading!