So dark nights are here at last. Time to snuggle down under the duvet, surround yourself with some tactile cushions, a steaming mug of hot chocolate laced with mini marshmallows and a damn good book!

Don`t forget to set the mood first with a cluster of fragrant candles. If you`re not the early night type, then the sofa will do just as well with a warm woollen throw and the added bonus of a roaring fire. If you haven`t got a roaring fire then just improvise with extra candles!

Personally I would begin with a hot bubble bath laced with some Epsom salts to ease those tired muscles, slip into my favourite PJ`s and fix myself something lush to nibble on. Some of you no doubt will prefer to swap the hot chocolate for wine, and there`s nothing wrong with that. After all this is YOUR night. Make it as lush and as decadent as you like.

Now there are so many books to choose from these days and we all have different tastes, which is why I sought the advice of some of you good people to give me your recommendations, and at long last here they are:

First up is `THE ORCHARDIST` by Amanda Coplin. 4.5 Star rating (453pages) Recommended by Sandra Rumbold.

‘A haunting and epic debut with shades of Steinbeck’ [GRAZIA] about a makeshift family in the untamed American West. Includes Reading Group Notes.

At the turn of the 20th century, in a remote stretch of Northwest America, a solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots as if they were his children.

One day, two teenage girls steal his fruit at the market. Feral, scared and very pregnant, they follow Talmadge to his land and form an unlikely attachment to his gentle way of life. But their fragile peace is shattered when armed men arrive in the orchard. In the tragedy that unfolds, Talmadge must fight to save the lives of those he has learned to love while confronting the ghosts of his own troubled past.

THE ORCHARDIST is an astonishing and unforgettable epic about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of his life when he opens his heart and lets the world in.

Number 2 is `BLACK EYED SUSAN`S` by Julia Heaberlin 4 star rating (369 pages) Recommended by Wendy Classick

A chilling new thriller that gets into the heart and mind of the killer, and the victim . . . Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought. Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison. Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter’s safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it’s too late?

‘Tense, pacy and compelling, Black-Eyed Susans is a taut psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Julia Haeberlin masterfully ramps up the suspense gradually, building to an explosive denouement that you won’t see coming. Quite simply, the best thriller you’ll read this year – perhaps decade Miss it at your peril’ Keep Calm and Read a Book Review.

Number 3 also recommended by Wendy is `HIS BLOODY PROJECT` by Graeme Macrae Burnett. 4.5 star rating (280 pages)

The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that
he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.

Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.

Number 4 in the list is `DAUGHTER OF FORTUNE` by Isabel Allende. 4 star rating (408 pages). Recommended by Donna Wright.

An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, vivacious young Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Entering a rough-and-tumble world of new arrivals driven mad by gold fever, Eliza moves in a society of single men and prostitutes with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chi’en. California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence to the young Chilean, and her search for her elusive lover gradually turns into another kind of journey. By the time she finally hears news of him, Eliza must decide who her true love really is.

Next up at number 5  is `THE BEEKEEPER`S DAUGHTER` by Santa Montefiore 4.5 star rating ( 398 pages) Recommended by Eve Nicholls

A family rocked by tragedy, a love that lives through time, a story that will stay in your heart… The stunning new novel of love and secrets from the number one bestselling author Santa Montefiore. Dorset, 1933: Grace Hamblin is growing up on a beautiful rural estate. The only child of the beekeeper, she knows her place and her future – until her father dies unexpectedly and leaves her bereft and alone. Alone, that is, except for the man she loves, whom she knows she can never have. Massachusetts, 1973: Grace’s beautiful, impetuous daughter Trixie Valentine is in love. Jasper is wild and romantic, a singer in a band on the brink of stardom. Then tragedy strikes and he must return to his home in England, promising to come back to Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him… Weighed down by memories, unaware of the secrets that bind them, both mother and daughter are searching for lost love. To find what they are longing for they must confront the past, and unravel the lies told long ago…

Number 6 is one that I have personally just finished reading: `BEYOND TIME TRAVEL- EXPLORING OUR PARALLEL WORLDS`. Book one by Richard Bullivant 4.5 star rating (56 pages). A short but nevertheless interesting read. Here`s the synopsis:

The concept that our universe may not be the only universe, but that there are millions, billions, trillions – indeed an infinite amount – of other universes became a serious proposition for mainstream science in 1957 when the respected physicist Hugh Everett III came out with his Multiple Worlds Interpretation. In short, Everett suggested that the only way to explain certain strange phenomenon in quantum mechanics was that there had to be other universes existing parallel to our own. The ‘Many Worlds’ scenario in turn implies that all possible alternative histories are real, each representing an actual ‘world’ or ‘universe’. This means that everything that could possibly have happened in our past, but did not, has occurred in the past of some other universe or universes. The implications of ‘Many Worlds’ for each of us is astounding. It means that every one of us has not only a ‘twin’ existing right now in a parallel universe, but a countless number of twins in universes that expand in all directions infinitely, as well as backwards and forward in time! As astounding and outlandish as Hugh Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation seems, a recent survey showed that the vast majority of physicists and scientists today accept it as ‘most likely true’ – in fact 83% of them, according to a recent survey of the world’s top 1,200 physicists. The fact that parallel universes is most likely a reality can explain a lot of strange phenomenon, and a lot of bizarre experiences as reported by every day, ordinary people. A lot of these stories have ended up in the mainstream media – and more than a few in the so-called ‘alternative media’. These stories range from the UFO phenomena to reports of contacts with fairy folk, or creatures so strange there is no precedent or explanation for them. Parallel universes have been frequently cited as a way to explain the elusiveness of Bigfoot. It also plays a role in the practice of remote viewing – the psychic spying technique developed by both U.S. Military and Soviet Union intelligence operations. Parallel universe theory may also explain some strange occurrences that simply defy category. In this book, we are going to explore some of those stories – those that made it into the mainstream media and, almost certainly, a few you have never heard about anywhere else. Contents Include: * Unexpected Slips into Other Worlds * The Man from a Non-Existent Country * The Strange Tale of the Gadianton Canyon * Energy Sphere Transportation * Unexpected Slips from Other Worlds * Portals to Parallel Worlds * The Chocolate City * The Multiple Individual Experiencing a Multidimensional World

Number 7 has been recommended by a number of people and is a compilation of short stories entitled `DARK TALES` by Shirley Jackson. Described as `the perfect read for Halloween` and only released this month it is yet to be rated. (208 pages)

There’s something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the country manor, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods…

So there you have it, a diverse selection of Autumn reads for a dark chilly night. I`ll leave you now to indulge in peace. Would love to hear how your special night panned out in the end, and whether or not you tried any of the recommendations listed here, so please feel free to drop me a line………

Best wishes and HAPPY READING!

Amanda x