My Favourite Reads of October 2019

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My Favourite Reads image

Welcome to another My Favourite Reads.

What an excellent reading month! I enjoyed every book (except for the DNF – did not finish – but I don’t talk about those), with the majority falling into the thriller/mystery/suspense category. Not sure why that was, it just turned out that way.

It was a close-run thing but in the end I my favourite read was…

The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ Tudor

The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ TudorI adored The Chalk Man, Tudor’s debut novel. It was brilliantly written, creepy, compelling and fun (my thoughts on it here).

The Taking of Annie Thorne is just as good, possibly even better. I think, perhaps, it’s a bit darker than The Chalk Man. It has more horror-y bits, which I loved (beetles: they do it to me every time), and it also has that same theme of adults returning to the scenes of their childhoods to solve a mystery. I like that. It’s very Stephen King.

I loved the writing, I loved the characters, I loved the brilliantly developed setting and I loved how flawed Joe was. This is a haunted man who’s done himself some serious damage over the years. He’s also a terrible smartarse and driven by revenge. All of which should make him unlikeable, yet I was happy to spend hours with him because he was also clever and witty, and determined to solve the mystery of his sister even though the risks were enormous.

I couldn’t put this book down. And don’t get me started on the twists, some of which were absolute doozies. I figured CJ Tudor would become an auto-buy author from The Chalk Man. The Taking of Annie Thorne has cemented it.

Bone White by Ronald MalfiBone White by Ronald Malfi

I’ve been a Ronald Malfi fan since reading The Night Parade (my thoughts on that here), which I thought was brilliant. Then came December Park which was even better (I chat about that here). And now there’s Bone White. While still a thriller, this had some juicy horror elements, which puts it smack in my zone. I am BIG into horror right now, as you’ve probably guessed from past My Favourite Reads posts.

Bone White is set in Alaska, in an isolated timber village at the edge of winter. The shortening days, incoming weather and suspicious locals only adds to the creepy, threatening atmosphere. Malfi is so good at producing anxiety in his reader. I felt on edge the entire time I was reading and loved every minute.

Another highly recommended read from an auto-buy author and my second favourite read of the month.

Strangers by Michaelbrent CollingsStrangers by Michaelbrent Collings

After a bit of a binge, I promised myself I wasn’t going to read a Collings book this month. I was going attack my enormous to-be-read pile from the top and work my way down. Which I did, for a while. Then I hit a book that wasn’t doing it for me – the DNF I mentioned in the intro – and didn’t know what to read next, and then it was oooooooh, looksie, another Michaelbrent Collings. I’ll just take a peek…

Best laid plans and all that, eh?

Anyway, Strangers was fab and fast, and so hard to put down that I read it in a day. It’s thriller-horror, if you’re wondering, and an excellent one. Great premise and loved the twists. Very clever.

I bought his new one, Scavenger Hunt, on its release day. It sounds like a cracker too. I wonder how long I can go before I read it? My to-be-read pile is at its biggest ever and I really want to get it under control. Alas, I fear the lure of another Collings page-turner may prove too strong!

Demanding His Desert Queen by Annie WestDemanding His Desert Queen by Annie West

Another fabulous, passionate and emotional romance from the Queen of Sheiks. Demanding His Desert Queen is a lovers reunited, marriage of convenience story, where the marriage is not very convenient at all.

There’s a great deal of tension in this romance, which makes for fast page-turning and Annie has created an interesting world, especially for Karim, but it holds dangers for both lead characters. The politics of the country that Karim has been asked to rule added a lot of depth to the conflict.

Demanding His Desert Queen will make your heart tumble about as you share in Safiyah and Karim’s fears, passion and elation. Go grab a copy today. You’ll love it.

Bad Blood by John CarreyouBad Blood by John Carreyou

I’m not a big non-fiction reader but like many others I was fascinated by the scandal surrounding medical tech company Theranos when it hit in 2017. There were so many serious names involved, from Henry Kissinger to Rupert Murdoch and distinguished others, and then there were the gobsmacking dollars involved. Dollars that were, ultimately, lost.

Theranos’s founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was a Stanford dropout with plenty of smarts and major ambitions. Her hero was Steve Jobs, whom she modelled herself on, sometimes comically if you count the wardrobe full of black turtleneck sweaters. Bad Blood documents her, and Theranos’s, rise and fall, the personalities involved, and the damage it caused, some of it tragic.

As with the The Woman Who Fooled the World: Belle Gibson’s cancer con, and the darkness at the heart of the wellness industry (which I talk about here) I’m once again amazed at how easily clever people can be suckered in by charisma. Oh, I’m sure I could be just as vulnerable – I’m as human and as fallible as the next person – but when you’re investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a company, surely you’d want a little more than verbal assurances that the technology works?

Incredibly interesting.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesHowl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film of Howl’s Moving Castle is a household favourite, so when the book came up as an Amazon Daily Deal I snapped it up. For some reason, I thought it was a short story but it’s a full-length novel.

And a wonderful one. It was fun, moving, rich and very satisfying and gave me a different insight into the film too. There’s quite a lot added and quite a lot left out, but wonderful characters are a feature of both book and film.

Loved it.

The Accusation by Wendy JamesThe Accusation by Wendy James

I’ve read two? Three? of James’s books. The Mistake was brilliant, as was The Lost Girls and I have The Golden Child on my want-to-read list. I hadn’t planned on picking up The Accusation until I’d read The Golden Child but then I heard James speak at Newcastle Library with Sarah Barrie, Anna Snoekstra, and Nicola Moriarty and her discussion about The Accusation had me intrigued.

I love it when a book leaves me anxious and guessing. Being a little bit familiar with James’ work, I’d expected this and The Accusation brought on those feelings well. This was a very modern story too. A cautionary tale for our times but with age-old motivations.

Good stuff. Highly recommended.

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What did you enjoy reading in October?

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10 thoughts on “My Favourite Reads of October 2019

  1. AvatarShirley Wine

    Some great books here. I enjoyed the Dancing Moon series by Patricia Watters – what can I say, I am a sucker for cowboy romances that dig deep into family issues and the lies people tell – for the good of everyone involved – only lies have a habit of unraveling.

    Another great read was Feild of Poppies by Sharon Sala – another family saga with so many unexpected twists and turns.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Hi Shirley, lovely to see you here! I checked out the Dancing Moon series and now I’m intrigued. They sound very interesting. And there are a lot of them too. Great for binge reading.
      Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing. So love hearing what everyone is reading.

  2. AvatarMichelle Elliott

    I loved reading the New Rachael Johns book Just one Wish. And in your list i loved The Accusation by Wendy James.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I’m not remotely surprised you loved Just One Wish, Michelle. I heard Rach talk about it at Newcastle Library on Thursday and the characters sound so much fun.
      The Accusation was great, wasn’t it? Sadly, I can so easily see that scenario panning out in real life.
      Thanks for taking the time to share.

  3. AvatarAnnie West

    Hi Cathryn,

    As usual, some interesting sounding books here. I’ll give the horror ones a miss though. And I smiled to see my daughter’s absolute fave – Howl’s Moving Castle listed. And grinned too to see you’d read Demanding His Desert Queen and enjoyed it. Yay!

    A bit of a slack month for me with reading. Except, surprise – your own Heart of the Valley which was a brilliantly emotional read. You made me cry! But you made me smile too – such a heartwarming tale. I loved the sense of place in this book. You really brought it alive.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      LOL on giving the horrors a miss, Annie. I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but I’ve loved them since childhood.
      I always love your sheikhs! Next on my list is Wedding Night Reunion in Greece. Not a sheikh but who can resist a gorgeous Greek tycoon?
      Thank you so much for reading Heart of the Valley. That book is one of my favourites and holds the record for being my biggest and longest hero crush. Lachie… sigh. Sorry-not sorry for the tears. I bawled my eyes out while writing it so nice to know it’s not just me!!

  4. AvatarAnna Campbell

    Cathryn, please keep doing this column. I always love reading it. I think some of your choices this month might be a bit creepy for me! I picked up Howl’s MC on the same Kindle deal. Haven’t read it yet but I love the movie and I’ve read a couple of Diana Wynne-Jones’s books and they’re wonderful. And you’re so right about Annie’s latest sheikh being a real page-turner. Loved it. Could be because I’ve been on a killer deadline but I haven’t read a lot that I’ve adored this month. The standout was a memoir called An Education by Tara Westover which had me cringing and crying and laughing and cheering and snarling and… Yanno, the whole gamut. Read and enjoyed the second Ariana Franklin medieval mystery, Maze of Death (also published as The Serpent’s Tale) and read and enjoyed the latest Bruno, Chief of Police book, The Body in the Well, although I think there are more compelling stories in the series. It’s always a nice world to go back to, though. Currently reading A.M. Stuart’s Singapore Sapphire which I’m enjoying very much.

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      I’m so glad you enjoy My Favourite Reads, Anna, and for taking the time to say so. Helps make it worthwhile!
      I look forward to hearing what you think of Howl’s Moving Castle. I loved it but I suspect I was predisposed to, being such a fan of the film.
      Love the sound of the Ariana Franklin series and very jealous of you reading Singapore Sapphire!!

  5. AvatarSue Gerhardt Griffiths

    Oh yes, I’m with Anna, never stop ‘My Favourite Reads’ blog posts, love them. I must check out the C.J. Tudor books – I like creepy, heehee. It’s been too long since I’ve read an Annie West book I need to rectify that very soon.

    Loved most of the books I read last month and only three were mediocre.
    Bluey’s War by Herb Hamlet – lots and lots of tissues needed for this one
    Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Eliza Marklund – another great thriller
    Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell – a fab series
    One Life – My Mother’s story by Kate Grenville – very interesting – audio
    Hag-seed – The Tempest Retold by Margaret Atwood – listened to this on audio and it was excellent.
    Frightful Tales of All Hallows’ Eve by multiple authors – lots of spooky fun in these bite sized tales.
    Amnesia by Peter Carey (audio), Lone Wolf by Jodi Piccoult and The Girls by Emma Cline (audio) were just so-so

    1. Cathryn HeinCathryn Hein Post author

      Looks like you had a good booky month too, Sue. Thanks so much for sharing. Don’t worry, I have no intention of stopping the My Favourite Reads series. It’s so much fun sharing reads with readers, and I get even more back in return with recommendations. Although it doesn’t do much for my to-be-read pile. The thing just keeps growing! But I know you’re in the same boat, as is pretty much everyone else I know. All friends!!

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