My Favourite Reads image

My Favourite Reads image

Welcome to the latest instalment of My Favourite Reads.

Somehow, despite December being more than a little crazy, I managed to read quite a few books. They were a bit of a mixed bag genre-wise and all were fab reads, but there were two standouts. I would love to give both the title of favourite, except I’m a romance writer and my loyalty must lie with that genre. So here we go with my favourite read

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth OLearyI can’t express what a delight The Flatshare was. Everything about it was wonderful and I finished it wearing the biggest smile. I might even have shed a soppy tear or two. There was also definitely a whole lot of envy that I didn’t think of this premise. It is so cool!

Tiffy and Leon were adorable, as were their friends, and their jobs made entertaining fodder too. The Flatshare isn’t all fluff either. It covers some serious relationship ground, especially with Tiffy.

An absolutely gorgeous must-read romance, that will tickle your heart in multiple ways and charm your socks off.

Go get it. Go on. You’ll have a ball, I promise.

Circe by Madeline MillerCirce by Madeline Miller

My second favourite read.

I adored Miller’s Song of Achilles. That was a stunning book and when I heard Circe was coming out I was super excited. Despite that, I left it unread on my Kindle for aaaages. I think my expectations were so high I was worried Circe wouldn’t live up to them.

I needn’t have worried. Circe was as brilliant as Song of Achilles. Maybe even more so and it’s not wonder it’s earned so many book of the year accolades. Miller’s writing is magic. Her word choices, phrasings and metaphors gave me great pleasure, and I loved Circe’s story and how it ended.

Beautiful.

The Girl With All The Gifts by MR CareyThe Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey

I nearly put this book down after a hundred pages or so, but I am so glad I persevered because it turned out a cracking read.

I had no idea when I bought The Girl With All The Gifts that it was a zombie story. I mean, I luuuuuurve horror novels but zombies generally don’t float my boat (the exception being James Scott Bell’s Mallory Caine series, which I talk about here, here and here). This is not your ordinary zombie book though. This is more like a literary apocalyptic thriller.

Excellent writing, a clever premise and fantastic characters, The Girl With All The Gifts slowly sucks you in until you just have to know what happens to Melanie and the others. Another close contender for favourite read.

Scavenger Hunt by Michaelbrent CollingsScavenger Hunt by Michaelbrent Collings

I seriously can’t get enough of Collings horrors. They’re pacey, have great concepts and I really, really enjoy his characters.

Okay, so Scavenger Hunt has a completely over-the-top bonkers premise but what fun! Five strangers wake up in a white room and the game is on. They must follow the enigmatic Mr Do-Good’s instructions and rules or die in horrible ways. Naturally everyone has secrets which influences how they play the game.

Loved it.

In the Heart of the Fire by Dean KoontzThe Nameless series by Dean Koontz

In the Heart of the Fire, Photographing the Dead, The Praying Mantis Bride, Red Rain, The Mercy of Snakes and Memories of Tomorrow.

This was an interesting series with an intriguing premise – a nameless vigilante is commissioned to hunt down serial killers but doesn’t know who he is himself. I’ve been a long-time Koontz fan and was curious when I spotted these titles. Initially I wasn’t going to buy them, but when I saw they were included as part of my Amazon Prime membership I figured I’d give them a go.

The books – short stories, really – were so easy to read and page-turnery I gobbled up all six in a day. Not my favourite Koontz (Watchers is the winner there) but cool enough.

The Sheikh’s Royal Baby Revelation by Annie WestThe Sheikh’s Royal Baby Revelation by Annie West

I think The Sheikh’s Royal Baby Revelation rates as having the best opening of an Annie West book I’ve read. Ashraf and Tori are in terrible danger and, thinking they’re not going to survive, succumb to passion. Fantastic!

Being a romance, of course they both survive. What follows is a deeply emotional journey as these two find their way to trust and love.

Loved these two characters and I’m so glad Annie wrote Ashraf’s story. I was intrigued by his situation in his brother Karim’s story Demanding His Desert Queen (I talk about that here) and wanted to know what happened. Now I do!

A Thousand Fiendish Angels by JF PennA Thousand Fiendish Angels by JF Penn

This was a series of three short stories inspired by Dante’s Inferno that I scored from JF Penn as a subscriber to her newsletter. We had a 2000km road trip to Townsville over Christmas and A Thousand Fiendish Angels proved perfect car reading. Short, entertaining and an easy way to pass the time. (For some reason I can read on my Kobo or Kindle easy-peasy in the car but a book makes me carsick. No idea why there’s a difference!)

I have another couple of JF Penn books that I need to get to. I’m particularly keen to read Map of Shadows, book one in her Mapwalker series. A project for this year.

https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B07Z9MQ48D/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=mywebsiteaus1-22&creative=1211&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07Z9MQ48D&linkId=4f9fd3c6c0c0bd331047c8e6b4c4d6bbThe Highlander’s Christmas Quest by Anna Campbell

I do love an Anna Campbell season story and she didn’t disappoint this year with The Highlander’s Christmas Quest.

Dougal was absolutely gorgeous and made me laugh. He was so earnest about his quest! I was with Kirsty in that half the time I was lusting and the other half wanting to push him in the sea to see if the arctic water would knock some sense into him. Lovely characters, wonderful setting and a fabulous romance.

This is book 5 in Anna’s Lairds Most Likely series but you don’t have to have read the others. The Highlander’s Christmas Quest works perfectly on its own. Just kick back and enjoy!

For the writerly among you, here are the writing craft titles I read in December.

Writing Active Hooks Book 1 by Mary BuckhamWriting Active Hooks Book 1: Action, Emotion, Surprise and More by Mary Buckham

Now this is a handy craft book. Buckham discusses the five different types of hooks, and how and why they work. This is straightforward and focused – no waffle, rah! – and there are plenty of examples so you can see the different hooks in action.

There’s a sequel too which covers evocative description, character, dialogue, foreshadowing and where to use hooks. I was about to buy it when I discovered Buckham has combined books one and two into a full book with new examples. Even better, Writing Active Hooks: The Complete How-to Guide is available in paperback, which is my preferred format for craft books. Yay!

Strangers to Superfans by David GaughranStrangers to Superfans: A Marketing Guide to the Reader Journey by David Gaughran

David Gaughran produces an excellent newsletter for writers, loaded with great tips on everything from how to do ads to newsletters to keywords, and a bunch of other stuff authors need to know these days. I always enjoy reading them and figured I’d enjoy Strangers to Superfans too.

There are millions and millions of ebooks now on Amazon and sometimes my books seem like dustmotes, floating around aimslessly and looking like every other dustmote. Strangers to Superfans contains a lot of stuff I’ve read before but there were still gems to be found. Now all I have to do is implement said gems – always a weakness.

An easy to read book about book marketing and a good companion to Amazon Decoded which you can pick up as an exclusive goodie when you sign up for Gaughran’s newsletter.

Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott BellWrite Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell

A re-read in the car. I’m glad I did re-read this because in between staring at the countryside I was also mulling over Serenity’s Song (working title) and this was a great refresher. Both this and the Mary Buckham book triggered a lot of ideas and note-taking and gave me a handy start when I began writing it at the start of January.

Write Your Novel From The Middle is one of my favourite craft books. I like the way Scott Bell writes, he’s very motivational, and this technique resonates strongly for me.

Highly recommended.

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What books floated your boat in December?

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