Santa Baby, Slip a Story Under the Tree

Christmas is on its way, and we have some recommendations for you whether you’re looking for a present for someone else, or you’re looking for something to ask Santa for this Christmas!

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For Thriller Lovers:

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If you or someone you know loves a good crime story, why not try Jo Mazelis’ Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize-winning Significance, or Anne Lauppe-Dunbar’s debut Dark Mermaids?

For Historical Fiction Lovers:

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Francesca Rhydderch’s debut, The Rice Paper Diaries, which won the 2014 Wales Book of the Year Award and Tiffany Murray’s chilling Sugar Hall are perfect for readers who like their stories old school. So old school they’re practically history.

For Sci-Fi/Fantasy Lovers:

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If you’re after something weird and wonderful for you or a friend this festive season, then you can’t go wrong with one of our New Stories from The Mabinogion; The Meat Tree is a brilliantly bizarre sci-fi retelling of the Blodeuwedd myth, perfect for readers who love stories that are literally out of this world. But if you’re after something a little closer to home, why not pick up a copy of Mary-Ann Constantine’s fable-esque debut, Star-Shot? This novel is a real treat for readers who are familiar with Cardiff.

For Short Story Lovers:

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For lovers of the oft forgotten art form that is the short story, why not pick up New Welsh Short Stories, an anthology featuring a wide range of Welsh authors from Carys Davies to Jo Mazelis, or Graham Mort’s latest collection, Terroir. These two look quite charming together, so if I were you I’d get both.

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For Non-Fiction Lovers:

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Jasmine Donahaye’s memoir, Losing Israel, has been stunning readers since its publication earlier this year; part memoir, part travel writing, part nature writing, it’s the perfect gift for any non-fiction connoisseur. Mike Rees’ Men Who Played the Game is the ideal book for any sports fan, and as we commemorate one hundred years since the First World War there’s no better time to read it than right now.

For Poetry Lovers:

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Here at Seren we’d be nothing without our poetry, so why not pick up a copy of Kim Moore’s hugely popular debut collection, The Art of Falling, or Jonathan Edwards’ Costa Award-winning debut collection, My Family and Other Superheroes – we promise they won’t disappoint you! Or if someone you know likes to keep on top of the latest poetry, a subscription to Poetry Wales magazine would make for a fine Christmas present, if you ask me. And I suppose you must be asking me if you’re reading this…

You can find all these books and more on our website, so treat the readers you know to some well-chosen words this Christmas!

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Criminally Good Reads

I don’t know about you, but when the colder months roll around I always find myself more inclined to pick up a thriller or a good ol’ fashioned whodunnit. There’s a strange kind of comfort in cracking open a book featuring thieves, drug dealers and serial killers whilst snuggled up under a warm blanket with a lovely mug of hot chocolate, knowing that no matter how bad life might seem at times you’re at least better off than whoever you’re reading about.

If you’re anything like me, dear reader, and you do enjoy a bit of detective work at this time of year then you’re in luck! Here at Seren we have a few books that might just peak your interest.

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Dark Mermaids

by Anne Lauppe-Dunbar

Unhappy West Berlin police officer Sophia is called on to investigate the murder of her childhood friend Käthe, after her beaten body is discovered in Sophia’s local park. Sophia is forced to return to the hometown she fled as a teenager with her enigmatic father Petrus, and Mia – a frightened child who turned up on her doorstep. She must investigate Käthe’s murder and care for a mother she believed abandoned her. As she reluctantly delves into the sordid Stasi secrets of those she grew up with, Sophia uncovers a web of horrors about her own abusive past as a child-swimming star in the former GDR. But her hunt for the truth has not gone unnoticed by those close to her, people who still have too much to hide.

Read our interview with Anne!

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The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer

by Steve Wilkins with Jonathan Hill

The story of Operation Ottawa, the cold case detection of John Cooper for two Pembrokeshire double killings: the Scoveston Manor murder of Richard and Helen Thomas in 1985 and the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path murder of Peter and Gwenda Dixon in 1989. Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Wilkins tells how he gathered a specialist team to review the murders, used cutting edge forensic techniques to prove Cooper’s involvement in the crimes, and how the tv programme Bullseye led to a crucial identification. The dramatic timeline involves psychological profiling, intimidation by Cooper, the relationship between police and media in the arrest and the predicament of the victims’ families during the long years when the cases remained unsolved.

The combination of painstaking evidence gathering, new forensics, psychological profiling, and careful detection made Operation Ottawa the template for subsequent murder enquiries. Now, for the first time, the lead detective tells the story of how a vicious killer was brought to justice.

Disturbance – Ivy Alvarez


Disturbance

by Ivy Alvarez

Disturbance is a novel in verse by Ivy Alvarez that chronicles a multiple homicide, a tragic case of domestic violence, where a family was gunned down by the husband and father. 

The book features poems in a kaleidoscope of voices from all the characters involved. We first meet the family itself and witness how the father’s controlling attitude gradually escalates into violence. Then we get the aftermath: the authorities, police and neighbours, who all might have helped to prevent this tragedy. This is a very dark book, but a courageous one, ultimately about evil and its presence in our everyday lives. The fact that this family was relatively well-to-do, seemingly prosperous and well-connected, adds another layer of intrigue and mystery. There is some graphic violence, but the emphasis is on the characters and their motivations.

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Significance

by Jo Mazelis

Lucy Swann is trying on a new life. She’s cut and dyed her hair and bought new clothes, but she’s only got as far as a small town in northern France when her flight is violently cut short. When Inspector Vivier and his handsome assistant Sabine Pelat begin their investigation the chance encounters of her last days take on a new significance.

Lucy’s death, like a stone thrown into a pool, sends out far-reaching ripples, altering the lives of people who never knew her as well as those of her loved ones back home.

Find all these titles and more on our website where, if you order two books, you’ll receive a free copy of Christmas in Wales!