Looking forward to…

Episode 5

Another selection in my occasional looks back at old reviews which I finished by saying something along the lines of “I’ll be looking forward to reading more of her work/this series/his books in the future” to see if I actually did read more and, if I did, did I like the ones I looked forward to as much as the ones that made me look forward to them?

Let’s see then…

Now You See Me by Sharon (SJ) Bolton

First reviewed 25th March 2013. This is the first in Sharon Bolton’s excellent Lacey Flint police procedural series. Although I only gave it four stars, I felt the series showed a lot of potential. I said “I’m glad I stuck with the series because in the next one, Dead Scared, Lacey came into her own in a big way.” So Bolton went on my list to remind me to read her next one. But did I?

I certainly did! I’ve read all the Lacey Flints and most of the standalone thrillers Bolton has published since then. While the Laceys were consistently good – in fact, the series continued to improve as it went along – I’ve had a more mixed response to her thrillers, finding some of them great but actually abandoning one or two. When she’s on form there’s no one to touch her, though. Her most recent one, a standalone, was typically great – The Pact. Currently my TBR has three of her books on it: a recent one that I just haven’t found time to read yet, The Craftsman; one from her back catalogue from before I discovered her, ditto, Blood Harvest; and excitingly, her new one, out this month, The Dark – the first new Lacey book in years! Even with the occasional disappointment along the way, Bolton is a firm favourite, right up at the top of the current heap of contemporary crime writers.

* * * * *

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

First reviewed 3rd April, 2013. The story of one Afghan family and their descendants as they become part of the diaspora caused by the never-ending wars in Afghanistan. I loved Hosseini’s writing, and said “Within the first few pages of this book, the reader knows s/he’s in the hands of a master storyteller.” I immediately wanted to read everything he’d written. But did I?

Well, not entirely. I quite quickly read the book he’s best known for, The Kite Runner, and though I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it to the same degree. This isn’t really Hosseini’s fault – over the last decade I have gradually developed a reluctance to read the zillions of books written by emigrants or descendants of emigrants who haven’t lived as an adult in the country about which they choose to write as if with some insider knowledge. Hosseini left Afghanistan as a young child and didn’t visit it again until around the time The Kite Runner was published, and therefore his books are clearly based on research or vicarious information rather than first hand knowledge and experience. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with that, but I have come to prefer books written by people who live or have lived in the country they’re writing about, or who write clearly from the perspective of an outsider. The “immigrant experience” has surely also been done to death in recent years, and unfortunately The Kite Runner has that theme too. The result is that I’ve never got around to acquiring the only other book he has published to date, A Thousand Splendid Suns, also about Afghanistan, and I’m not sure I ever will. It’s not you, Mr Hosseini, it’s me.

* * * * *

You Have to Tell by J Sanclemente

First reviewed 7th April 2013. To be honest, this one has faded completely from my memory. My review tells me the plot is a cross between an international conspiracy and a murder mystery. I gave it four stars and said “this is a good first novel, enjoyable and even thought-provoking, and I look forward to seeing more from this author in the future.” But did I?

I did not! I have never consciously thought of the book or the author since the day I posted my review. So I had a look to see what else he had published in the interim, and discovered that I had been wrong about this being a first novel. Apparently he’s written loads in his native Spanish, and this was merely the first to be translated. And, as far as I can see, the last! If any of his books ever happen my way again, I’d happily read another, but he’s no longer on my list to look out for.

* * * * *

A Dark and Broken Heart by RJ Ellory

First reviewed 9th April 2013. This is a thrilling noir novel told from the perspective of an anti-hero of epic proportions – the man with the dark and broken heart of the title. I said “This is a superbly told and completely compelling roller coaster of a story – bleak, often violent, but never without the possibility of redemption.” I loved it so much it won the FF Award for Best Noir Thriller of 2012, the prize as always being that I guaranteed to read the author’s next novel. But did I?

I did! Ah, RJ Ellory – one of the more problematic authors on my list. He has a history of using pseudonyms to praise himself online, which might be forgivable, though posting five star reviews of your own books seems a bit… well, let’s be kind and call it quirky. What’s rather less forgivable is that he has also been caught out using pseudonyms to leave unfairly negative reviews on the books of rival authors. And yet he does write wonderful thrillers! Not all the time – a bit like Sharon Bolton, I swing from loving some of his books to being rather disappointed with others. And there’s no doubt his reputation now means he has to work harder to get my somewhat reluctantly-given approval – one reason I prefer to know as little as possible about the authors of the books I read! I’ve read maybe half a dozen of his books, some of them pre-blogging, and have City of Lies, reputed to be one of his best, sitting on my TBR. It’s been there for a long time though… must try to get over my reluctance…

* * * * *

A much more mixed batch this time – one forgotten, a couple I’ve grown reluctant about, though for very different reasons, and the wonderful Sharon Bolton! Three more men, and one woman. Thank goodness the woman is the one that is most firmly still on my list! (If you know anything bad about her, please, please, don’t tell me! 😉 )

Have you read any of these authors?
Are they on your “looking forward to” list?

64 thoughts on “Looking forward to…

  1. Had a little heart somersault moment there when you said ‘I have gradually developed a reluctance to read the zillions of books written by emigrants or descendants of emigrants who haven’t lived as an adult in the country about which they choose to write as if with some insider knowledge’, as that might almost describe me… but then I remembered that in a way I was the opposite of that, having spent most of my childhood abroad and then living in my home country from the ages of 14- 26. I still feel a bit of a fraud that I’ve lived away from it for so many years now, but I do go back every year when I can. Is that acceptable, Fiction Fan – I wouldn’t want to do anything to discourage you from reading me in the future…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha, oops, sorry! Well, firstly, I’d always read your book because you’re you! 😀 But secondly, it’s not a hard and fast rule, and it’s more to do with why people do it. What I mean is that some ex-pats are ex-pats because they hate the current regime in their countries of origin, or they sort of look down on their culture in some way. I find that Indian writers based in India write very different, more nuanced books, for example, than writers of Indian ethnicity living in a western democracy, where they seem to hold up the worst of India for the smug disapproval of non-Indians. But if someone has simply moved away from their country of origin for work, relationship or adventure, and still thinks of it affectionately (though not necessarily uncritically) that’s a whole different ballgame in this increasingly fluid world. But the children of disgruntled emigrants often write as if they have some insight that I don’t agree they necessarily have, since they’ve never really lived in the culture and have learned about it second-hand. It’d be like me claiming to be an expert on Ireland because of my Irish grandfather…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I quite enjoy it when authors are on social media being total twats. It gives me an excuse to not buy/read their books and keep my TBR at an acceptable *cough* level. So as far as Roy is concerned, based on what you told us, I would never read one of his books.

    I don’t know anything bad about Sharon Bolton. I think she’s awesome 😊.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha, yes, I wept buckets through both of the Hosseinis I read! The Lacey Flint series is excellent, but be warned that like most series the first book is the weakest, in my opinion. As for Ellory, silly man! He didn’t need to do it either – he was already building a big fan base and a great reputation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, Lacey Flint has provided pleasurable reading experiences for me too. I still have The Pact on my list and I look forward to reading The Dark eventually. I have read and enjoyed each of Khaled Hosseini’s books, though I understand your reservations about writing from afar about a country of origin.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If Bolton wasn’t so prolific I might be able to catch up on her backlog one day! The Pact was great fun – nothing too deep, but nicely tense! I should get to The Dark soon, but tennis season is underway so things might get behind soon. Yes, it was odd how I went off Hosseini despite enjoying both books I read – I blame all this “own voices” stuff for making me more conscious of the authenticity of “insider” writing…

      Like

    • It was a big scandal back when I was in the Amazon Vine programme, which had very active forums about Amazon reviewing specifically. Silly man! The Lacey Flint series is excellent, but be warned that as usual the first is the weakest by quite some way. Can’t wait to read the new one!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve heard good things about Sharon Bolton’s novels, so am tempted to give the Lacey Flint series a try to see how I get on. I’ve also heard of the Kite Runner, but have never been tempted. Ellory sounds quite unpleasant, so I’ll pass on him too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think Sharon Bolton is the best out there at the moment, although she has an occasional dip from form. And I loved the Lacey Flint series, though be warned that the first book is the weakest by quite some way. Can’t wait to read the new one! Hosseini’s books are real weepies, so I have to be in the right mood, and for me I think his moment has passed. He hasn’t brought out a new book for years now anyway. As for Ellory – silly man! I’m sure he lost a lot of fans, not to mention the respect of his fellow writers. I love his books too, but that story is always in my head now whenever I read him.

      Like

  5. What you shared about Ellory is enough to put me off him in and of itself, FictionFan. No. No. No. As for Lacey Flint, I’ve always liked her, and that is a solid series. I wonder where Bolton will go next with her. Interestingly, Bolton also wrote some standalones before she started that series. They haven’t gotten the attention that the series has, though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know – silly man! I already loved his books, and have read several more since that story came out, but it’s definitely made it harder for me to appreciate him – and quite reluctant to leave him a glowing review when I do, oddly. As I mentioned the other day, I have mixed feelings about the new Lacey Flint – can’t wait to read it, but I felt she’d finished the series off quite nicely last time. I still haven’t got to her back catalogue from before the Laceys – she’s so prolific I find it hard enough keeping up with her new output! Which is why she takes up so many slots on my TBR… 😉

      Like

  6. I think Blood Harvest is the only one of Sharon Bolton’s books I haven’t read yet. I’ve enjoyed nearly all of them, including the new one, The Dark. I thought she had finished with the Lacey Flint series so it was a nice surprise to see that she hadn’t!

    Liked by 2 people

    • There are a few from before the first Lacey Flint that I still haven’t got to, but she’s so prolific I find it hard just keeping up with her new output! One day! Oh, glad to hear you enjoyed The Dark especially since I thought she’d finished the series off nicely last time, so have had rather mixed feelings about Lacey’s return. On the one hand, I’m delighted and can’t wait to read it, but on the other I was quite happy with the way it had ended…

      Like

  7. I haven’t read any of these, and this bag does sound mixed, as you say. I’m not sure I’d be putting any of these on my list….at least not in the near future. Do I sound wishy-washy? I’m a bit distracted today. I have a son who’s graduating from high school and heading to college this fall. Too many things on my mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good heavens, Jilanne, I can’t believe your son is old enough to be going off to college already! No wonder you’re distracted – time is flying so fast it’s a wonder we’re not all dizzy!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. None of these have made it onto my TBR, though I must seek out Sharon Bolton. Her police procedures sound the best of this batch. I’m glad when you follow through with plans to read an author’s succeeding works, but I totally get it when you don’t. Time is precious, and we can’t read everything that’s printed!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’d enjoy Sharon Bolton – her police procedurals especially, although several of her thrillers have been fab too! Yes, it’s impossible to keep up with every author no matter how much we’d like to, and I do like reading some new-to-me authors as well, which cuts down on the time available for reading existing favourites. Oh well, it’s a nice problem to have! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Great news, isn’t it? We seem to be playing a book version of pass the parcel today – Eve has jus told me there’s a new CJ Sansom on the way, and she’s made my day too! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve read none of these ones! I have read The Kite Runner, which I remember really loving at the time but can hardly remember now. I have And The Mountains Echoed on my shelves, but somehow I never seem to be in the mood for it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I seem to remember feeling there were quite a lot of similarities between The Kite Runner and And the Mountains Echoed, so I suspect I’d have loved whichever one I read first most. Somehow I feel his books hit a moment, and that the moment has passed – can’t quite put my finger on why, though…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks to your review of it, I read The Pact last year and thoroughly enjoyed it!

    As for the last author…. that’s just a little too weird for me. It’s one thing to “toot your own horn”, but to try and boost yourself using made up names and criticizing other authors the same way seems unethical. (though who seems to care about ethics anymore)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed The Pact – she’s written several other really enjoyable thrillers too (and a few duds).

      Yes, silly man! It lost him the goodwill of a lot of his fellow authors unsurprisingly, and I bet it lost him some fans too – like me! Ha, you sound as cynical as me about the way the world is going… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have read one Bolton, which I liked a lot, but for some reason I didn’t revisit her. I have read two or three books by Hosseini but aren’t much interested in reading any more, even though I enjoyed them. Not sure why.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Bolton and Hosseini are the writers I’ve heard about the most, but am not especially tempted by any of them, though I may try a Bolton book at some point. You’re still doing a pretty thorough job on the follow-ups though!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I think Sanclemente is the first one so far that I’d totally forgotten about. I’m sure there will be more as I go along! Bolton is very good when she’s on form, which is most of the time – her standalone thrillers are often highly entertaining. Hosseini – I don’t know why, but I feel his moment has passed. I think he came along just when we were all obsessing about Afghanistan in the way we’re now all interested in knowing more about Ukraine. How fickle we are! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Have to laugh at what you wrote for You Have to Tell: “I did not! I have never consciously thought of the book or the author since the day I posted my review.” Makes me wonder what response his other books received.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I hadn’t heard of the Hosseini book but I have read the others, and while I enjoyed them I completely agree with you about the immigrant experience – however you have tempted me to go back to him!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I did love And the Mountains Echoed so if you’ve enjoyed his writing before I think you’ll like it. But the immigrant experience novel has been so overdone now, and to be honest they all seem too similar to make for interesting reading. Like any other trend, you can have too much of a good thing!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ok wait, I have not come across this piece of publishing gossip before – RJ Ellory posts positive reviews of his own books under made-up names??? That is completely insane (and sort of hilarious!) but mostly insane. You would think his publishers would have rapped his knuckles the first time that came to light…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, well, hopefully he doesn’t do it any more – there was a lot of anger about it when he got caught several years ago. It wasn’t so much him reviewing himself that annoyed people, though it is a bit like cheating! It was really him trying to put readers off his rivals’ books that made people angry – and rightly so! I can’t remember if his publishers got involved but I think the Crime Writers Association set up an investigation or something, which is not a good thing to have on your CV!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. These are fascinating. RJ Ellory I find hard to forgive – he came and spoke at a BookCrossing Unconvention I arranged and was very forthcoming and nice and supportive, and then the sockpuppet thing emerged – nooooo!

    Liked by 1 person

Please leave a comment - I'd love to know who's visiting and what you think...of the post, of the book, of the blog, of life, of chocolate...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.