My Favourite Reads of January 2019

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Welcome to the first My Favourite Reads for 2019!

I read some fabulous books in January. Only four for myself as late in the month my allocation of Romance Writers of America Rita Award books arrived, and I wanted to get started on them straight away.

No question as to what my favourite read was, and it’s…

December Park by Ronald Malfi

December Park by Robert Malfi

I read The Night Parade back in October 2017 (read my thoughts on that here) and meant to read December Park soon after, but like so many of my best laid book-plans that didn’t happen and it ended up taking me over a year to get there.

Usual thing – too many books, not enough reading time.

December Park was excellent. I love the way Malfi writes, he has a style that draws me deep into a story and unable to stop turning those pages. This is a long book – 700+ pages in paperback I believe – yet it flowed beautifully and never felt too long. Having a bunch of engaging and funny teenage boys enjoying summer adventures in a sleepy outer suburb the early 90s helps. He captures those hazy days and the emotions and dramas of adolescence perfectly. Except Harting Farms isn’t really a sleepy suburb and the days certainly aren’t all hazy. Children are going missing and when one turns up dead, the boys put themselves into the thick of the danger.

I’ve already bought Bone White, Malfi’s latest release, and I won’t be waiting a year before I read it either. The blurb sounds fab and Malfi is awesome.

Pay Me in Flesh by James Scott Bell

Pay Me in Flesh by James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is a well-known name in the writing world thanks to his workshops and books on writing. I own a few of his craft titles and find them both enlightening and entertaining, but it wasn’t until I read How to Write Pulp Fiction that I became interested in reading his fiction. In it, Bell uses a short story to demonstrate what he means by pulp fiction and it was so clever I wanted more.

Pay Me in Flesh is book one of a series with a fantastic premise: Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law, defends the creatures no other lawyer will touch… and longs to reclaim her real life. Yep, a zombie lawyer with, er, appetites.

It sounds bonkers and is, and I loved it. Fast, hugely entertaining, great characters and, yeah, he knows how to write pulp fiction. I had a ball with it. A word of warning: Pay Me in Flesh does have a few gross-out moments that made even me go ewwwww, but it’s a zombie story, some grossness is a given!

The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson

The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson

I adored Anthea’s debit novel The Drifter (which I raved about here) and have had The Cowgirl in my sights since. It was a gorgeous read with beautiful writing, an emotional storyline, a subtle but enjoyable romance and a strong message about moving on and living life.

I liked the dual timeline and how Deirdre’s backstory unfolded as we came to understand her more in the present, and I really like the metaphor of Barnaby the cockatoo. That was clever.

A great New Year read and a must for lovers of rural romance.

Breaking Good by Madeline Ash

Breaking Good by Madeline Ash

I’ve wanted to read Breaking Good since 2017, when it was a finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America Rita Award then went on to win a Romance Writers of Australia Ruby Award for best short romance. The idea of a hero with ADHD is an intriguing one and I was curious as to how that would work for a romance. Perfectly in the hands of Ash, as it turns out.

Breaking Good is a gorgeously written story that will reach deep into your heart and tug hard on your emotions. The characters are fabulous and it’s hard to resist a Byron Bay setting.

What were your favourite reads of January?

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10 thoughts on “My Favourite Reads of January 2019

  1. AvatarAnna Campbell

    Cathryn, great list as usual! I’ve read the Cowgirl and loved it. As you know, The Drifter was one of my books of the year last year.

    I haven’t done as much reading as usual in between all my travelling (I’m currently in Venice on a writing retreat). But I read a few I really liked. The first is a book called In the Month of the Midnight Sun by Cecilia Eckback, a historical mystery about the clash between the Lapps and the Swedish incomers in the mid-19th century. Not a subject I know much about. Beautiful writing and use of setting. I really liked Caroline Baum’s memoir, Only, a very emotional read. And finally, I just finished Temeraire by Naomi Novik. Brilliant combination of a fantasy and a Regency as the Napoleonic wars include batallions of dragons. Very enjoyable read but I must say I love it when NN includes a romance plot the way she did with the sublime Spinning Silver.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Ahhh, Venice. You lucky, lucky lady.
      I’ve read the first three in the Temeraire series and they were lovely fun. I haven’t read Spinning Silver yet but I ADORED Uprooted so I think I’ll love SS too.
      Interesting about Month of the Midnight Sun. I’ve had Ekback’s Wolf Winter on my Kobo wishlist for a while now. Maybe I should read it!
      Enjoy Venice and write lots!

  2. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    If only I had time to read all books I would add all those to my TBR list but I will add the Madeline Ash one as Steven and I have a friend who is very hyperactive, always on the go, can’t sit still, seems like he’s ADHD so I’d be interested how this author portrays someone with ADHD.
    Ooh, I just checked and I have The Drifter, yay!

    Loved all my January reads, which were: Operation Valentine by Loretta Hill – so much humour, Abigail’s Voicemail by Kathryn White – it was hilarious but I think you’d have to have read other books in the Abigail series to get what it’s all about. The Red Dirt Road by Alissa Callen, Purple Hills by Alissa Callen, The Round Yard by Alissa Callen – all three were amazing! Dreamscapes by Tamara McKinley, The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner and It’s All Good by Andrew Daddo – a combination of travelogue and memoir – I’ve always wondered about his brother who is in a wheelchair and he recounts it all. I can stop wondering. Andrew Daddo is a hoot which made this book so very funny apart from the sad bits of course.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Wow, you did have a big reading month, Sue. Great going and Alissa will be thrilled you enjoyed her books. What did you think of the Romanov Dancers? My editor was so excited about this book when we met up at the Romance Writers of Australia conference.
      As always, thanks for sharing!

      1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

        Cathryn, The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers was a fantastic page turner, although not what I expected from a romance book, the ending was different that’s for sure but I loved it. Definitely worth a read.

          1. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

            Anna, I’ll be reading A Gentleman in Moscow for book club some time this year and I have The Drifter and all Robert Galbraith books but the latest one on my to- read shelf. I’ll add the The Goblin Emperor to my TBR list as it sounds very interesting. Thanks for the recommendations!

            1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

              Love the sound of The Goblin Emperor. All the ebook stores are showing it as a pre-order releasing 21st March. Most annoying! Mind you, I have plenty on my TBR pile to keep me going until then.

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