Today’s post comes as a result of an urgent request.

A reader Tweeted this:

With pen and pencil I sat down to suggest a few delights but found the list soon out of control. How to choose just six brilliant writers from all the wonders out there?

This particular reader discovered my books through the Smart Women promotion, thanks to other authors she enjoyed. I’ve never met her but I know she’s a jewellery designer and loves beautiful things, she’s an eclectic reader and appreciates well-wrought prose. Finally, when she finds an author she likes, she devours all their work.

So, here are six authors with a body of work to their name, all of whom I can personally recommend. I have also added an example of their writing to start the curious reader on a wonderful journey of words.

Jim Williams

A Renaissance man who apparently turns his hand to all kinds of genres with ease. His prose is witty, erudite and entertaining, sometimes subverting the style with a sly wink. A well-read man who writes well-worth reading books. Highly addictive.

His murder-mystery boxset is a great place to start.

 

Amanda Hodgkinson

A novelist with a poet’s soul, this author makes her words dance like butterflies. Her books are unconnected apart from the beauty of her prose, so start where you like, then relish her short story in the Grand Central collection.

Try 22 Britannia Road or Spilt Milk and you’ll be hypnotised.

Piers Alexander

If surround-sensory, rambunctious historical fiction is your thing, read this man. The Bitter Trade and Scatterwood would not be my traditional fare, but this is a writer who draws you into its world like Süskind’s Perfume.

You cannot stop and don’t want to.

Make your first encounter with Calumny Spinks in The Bitter Trade.

Louise O’Neill

Hardly a hidden gem. Louise is sparkling already, winning YA prizes, rave reviews and readers across the spectrum. Her voice is cool, sharp and simmering with anger against injustice, while remaining articulate and human.

All her work is worth reading but if you liked The Handmaid’s Tale, read Only Ever Yours.

Barbara Scott-Emmett

A writer so versatile and talented, you could spend months engrossed in her work. Crime, erotica, short stories and literary fiction, she messes with your mind in the best kind of way. If you like Euro Crime, get Don’t Look Down for Christmas.

Delirium: the Rimbaud Delusion is an absinthe dream.

 

Jane Davis

A recommendation for all those who don’t know her work, this is a writer with such delicacy of touch when exploring sensitive topics. I love all her books and give them as presents, especially for their glorious covers.

Pick up any one of them and you’ll fall in love, but A Funeral for an Owl is my No.1.

And if you’re still hungry for more, check out the selection over at Bookmuse. We publish two or three new reviews every Wednesday and even recommend the perfect food, drink and audio accompaniments.

Glass of wine, anyone?

 

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This week, I spotted an article by Bookbub on eight trends for covers that sell books.

The key elements to lure readers? Animals, beaches, seasonal themes, friendship/sisterhood, shirtless men, great photography, chicklit glitter and cute kids.

Sure, I get that. Certain readers will buy stuff that guarantees satisfaction – stuff that does what it says on the tin. Yet I scrolled through those covers and not one appealed to me. No surprise there. I loathe anything mawkish or sentimental, rarely read chicklit/romance/erotica and I’m drawn to covers which promise beauty, intelligence, new ideas and experiences.

I know very little about design, but as a reader, I do judge books by their covers. Never one to keep my opinions to myself, here are ten indie-published covers which appealed to my own personal predelictions. In no particular order, this is my own subjective beauty parade with links to the designers.

 

scherzoScherzo

by Jim Williams

(JD Smith Design)

Beautiful use of perspective and depth of field. Not to mention the glorious colours and light.

The positioning of the dramatic items in the foreground stand out against the inky canal and the Caravaggio lure of Venetian architecture is just irresistible.

*Covetous sigh*

 

These-Are-the-MomentsThese Are The Moments

by Jenny Bravo

(Kisscut Design)

That cover is a story in itself and suits the title to a T. A broken chain, a lop-sided swing… something is going to happen. The typeface also reminds me of the Jonas Jonasson books, hence the suggestion of quirkiness. I have no idea what the book is about but on the strength of this image, I’d want to find out.

 

Bitter Like Orange PeelBitter like Orange Peel

by Jessica Bell

(Jessica Bell)

Wonderful balance of images, colour and surreal swathe of flaming hair. What’s she doing? Running, dancing?

The juxtaposition of differing fonts not only adds interest but hints at a similar boldness within.

How could one resist picking this up?

 

Black-Sun

 

Black Sun, Red Moon

by Rory Marron

(The Ebook Designer)

This book promises to take me to another place and inside a different culture.  and I’m intrigued by the figure.

The slightly distressed nature of the background adds a parchment-like texture and the typeface against contrast backgrounds is striking.

 

The-Mage-and-the-MagpieThe Mage and the Magpie

by Austin J. Bailey

(Bookfly Design)

This appeals to the child in me.

Doorways, the promise of change, forests and a bell with magic hinted at by the Potteresque font.

There’s a lot going on here, but it all works and excites curiosity. And didn’t I read somewhere that turquoise/yellow is an appealing combination?

 

 

An Unchoreographed LifeAn Unchoreographed Life

by Jane Davis

(Andrew Candy)

Elegant, intriguing and atmospheric. The image evokes thoughts of Shakespeare and the Penguin Café Orchestra. The shades of blue, as if the figure were subtly spotlit, the choice of delicate motifs such as rose stems, deer and ballet combine to lure you in, convinced the story must be equally beautiful.

 

kurinji flowersKurinji Flowers

by Clare Flynn

(JD Smith Design)

I’m not usually keen on having faces on the cover as I prefer to invent my own image of the characters. But I do love maps and greenery. For me, the 50s-style portrait, sliver of map and suggestion of landscape work perfectly here. The font is elegant and gives us an idea of the kind of story to expect. As with Black Sun, Red Moon above, the whole package tells us we’re going otherwhere and otherwhen.

 

We All Reach the Earth by FallingWe All Reach the Earth by Falling

by Bauke Kamstra

(Jessica Bell)

OK, the title would be enough to draw me closer, but the texture makes me want to grab this. Those feathers overlapping some of the letters is subtle and understated. The title is also perfectly balanced, leading me to imagine the poems within will be equally so. These colours remind me of Al Brookes’s The Gift of Looking Closely, another plus.

 

AbsentLordThe Absent Lord

by Jason Beacon

(Chandler Book Design)

Initially attracted because it bears some similarity to Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, I like everything about this,

The leaves/flames forming a frame, autumnal tones, the typewritten title and the way the light catches the eye all hint at a story within. Plus that strapline couldn’t fail.

 

With-this-Curse

With this Curse

by Amanda DeWees

(Bookfly Design)

The author has a whole series of these books, employing the same technique of silhouetted head as portal. They look fabulous.

This one is extremely classy, giving you the genre, central character and sense of polish in the way the cover is edged. You immediately know there is a world within and can’t wait to dive in.

 

There. Those were a few of my favourites. You?