My Favourite Reads banner 2020

Welcome to another excellent edition of My Favourite Reads, actually on time this month. Rah!

There are two things lockdown has been good for: finally testing out recipes I’ve had on my to-make pile since forever, and reading. While the former has been a bit hit and miss, the latter has been kicking goals. Everything I’ve been reading has been fab.

My favourite read of April though was…

Well, actually it was Watchers by Dean Koontz but that’s a re-read so I’m not counting it.

So the title goes to…

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

The First Girl Child by Amy HarmonI’ve been a huge fan of Amy Harmon since reading her fantasy novel The Bird and the Sword, which was just magical. It’s sequel, The Queen and the Cure, was good too and I have LOVED her other novels (read From Sand and Ash, folks – my thoughts on that here), so I was expecting a lot from The First Girl Child.

It delivered, giving me all the emotion and rich writing and romance I expect with a Harmon novel. The worldbuilding was fabulous. It was like I was there with Bayr and Alba and Dagmar and Ghost on Temple Hill, and the tension with King Banruud was fantastic.

Think Norse mythology with curses, romance, mystery, blood runes, incredible heroism, and beautiful writing. Sighworthy.

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So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon RonsonSo You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

My second favourite read of April, missing out on the title only because it was such a frightening book.

No, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is not a horror, it’s a must-read non-fiction title that examines the devastating impact of social media shamings (and other contemporary and historical methods of shaming) on individuals and society. Oh my god, some of the instances Ronson investigates are awful. Those poor people. As for the misogyny of much of the carry on… grrrr.

This book made me want to delete my Twitter account. Seriously scary.

The Crossing Places by Elly GriffithsThe Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Friends have been urging me to try this series for years. I read Griffiths’ The Stranger Diaries last year (my thoughts on that here) and enjoyed it and had intended to borrow The Crossing Places from the library. Then recently I spotted the ebook on sale and naturally snapped it up.

I’m glad I did because The Crossing Places was a very enjoyable read with great characters and a fabulous setting. I’d be borrowing book two, The Janus Stone, from the library right now, but He Who Shall Remain Nameless is hogging the iPad and gobbling down Rachel Caine’s brilliant Great Library series, so it will have to wait.

Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea PenroseMurder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose

I’m a sucker for historical murder mysteries and I couldn’t resist buying this one when I spotted this Regency period mystery. The blurb and cover sounded smack in my zone.

Murder on Black Swan Lane proved an entertaining read. The heroine Charlotte’s (aka AJ Quill) occupation as a satirical cartoonist was something I hadn’t come across before and I thought it clever how that was woven into the plot. Charlotte also had plenty of courage and proved a feisty match for her unlikely partner-in-investigation the Earl of Wrexford, which made their interactions a lot of fun. In fact, there are a lot of fun characters here, including Wrexford’s valet and Charlotte’s little scallywag friends.

This is book one in the Wrexford and Sloane series.

edemption of the Maverick Millionaire by Michelle DouglasRedemption of the Maverick Millionaire by Michelle Douglas

Another highly satisfying Michelle Douglas romance. The characters in Redemption of the Maverick Millionaire were gorgeous and the romance… ooh! When I discovered what the hero Damon had done in the past I was like, “There is noooooo getting back from that, buddy.” But having read quite a few Michelle Douglas romances I had every faith she’d get me, Damon and Eve through this conflict. Which she did, with impressive skill too.

The NSW north coast setting was completely dreamy, but it was the community feel of the coastal village that really got to me. I really hope there’s a return to Mirror Glass Bay. It’s a beautiful, heartwarming and healing place.

Oh, and the book’s opening is an absolute cracker.

A fab romance that had me seriously worried for the hero and heroine. Gotta love that!

Watchers by Dean KoontzWatchers by Dean Koontz

I bought Watchers in paperback in the 90s when it first released and adored it so much I read it several more times, turning my copy rather tatty. Eventually, I bit the bullet and let it go during one of our many house moves, telling myself that I’d just borrow Watchers from the library if I wanted to read it again.

Ah, but this is now the time of ebooks and when it came on sale I was all YES!!! and immediately snapped up Watchers because… this book! It has a dog! A golden retriever doggy! The most special doggy in the world! And a wonderfully gentle romance featuring a couple who will do whatever it takes to keep Einstein and each other safe.

It’s brilliant. And so is the author’s Afterword, where Koontz laughing laments that Watchers is so beloved that even when he’s at a booksigning in the twilight of his life, with an IV line and a nurse, drooling and holding an ear trumpet, a significant percentage of fans will tell him that while they’ve enjoyed all his other works, Watchers is still be the best thing he’s done.

I can’t help but agree. Watchers is awesome. Go read.

By a Thread by Lucy ScoreBy a Thread by Lucy Score

The new release from Lucy Score, an author who first came to my attention with Pretend You’re Mine and Protecting What’s Mine, but cemented my fandom with Rock Bottom Girl (read my rave about that book here).

I love how when she was writing this book Score called it Grumpy Grump Face, a title which became so adored by fans that there’s a specially commissioned Grumpy Grump Face cover on the inside of By A Thread. It’s apt too because Dominic proved a very cranky hero indeed. In fact, he’s a complete arsehole, getting the heroine Ally sacked from her waitressing job on their first encounter. But this is a romance and of course beneath that grumpy exterior lies a heart of gold, even if is deeply buried.

It was interesting that these were older characters too. Dominic is 44 and Ally is 39. I have Score’s Undercover Love on my e-reader waiting for me now.

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What fab books have floated your boat lately?

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Never Miss a New Release meme

10 Responses

  1. Cathryn, as usual, I’ve been reading your recommendations and taking notes. I have several already backed up on my TBR pile, including Michelle Douglas’s ‘Redemption of the Maverick Millionaire’. Why, I ask myself, is today the day I’m committed to so many other things? Little time for reading now, but soon, I promise myself. Glad you’re enjoying the Elly Griffiths. I like the way the characters involved in solving the mysteries have story arcs all their own, and some of them so suprising.

    • I hope you get to read Michelle’s book soon. I was so impressed with how she resolved the conflict because it was huge, and for a while I really thought there’d be no coming back. It made for such a satisfying ending.

    • I think there are quite a few people who have avoided Koontz because of the perception he writes horror, which he does. But a lot of his books are really thoughtful and interesting, or more really good thrillers than horror. Watchers is something special though. It’s the dog that does it.

  2. Oh, you’ve mentioned some books I have on my TBR pile too, Cathryn! I couldn’t resist grabbing Lucy Score’s Grumpy Grump Face, but have yet to read it. And I bought Amy Harmon’s From Sand and Ash last week (your fault!). Now I want to add the Ronson and the Koontz. I swear I need a whole year just to catch up my “really, really, really want to” reads.

    So glad you enjoyed my Maverick! It was an interesting book to write. The tension between the leads and all of their fraught history had me on tenterhooks the entire first draft (and the second, LOL). I so loved Mirror Glass Bay. I want it to be a real place so I can move there!

    • Oh, I can’t wait to hear what you think of From Sand and Ash!! And Grumpy Grump Face. Don’t worry about the Ronson. I’ll loan you my copy. It’s bloody scary though.
      I wish Mirror Glass Bay was real too. But I wish more that you’ll return there for another story!

  3. Wow, what a great list, Cathryn! And I haven’t read any of them so clearly I need to pull my finger out.

    I think I told you I was suffering the world’s greatest reading slump. It’s gone on for weeks – basically since lockdown which is a pity because this is such a good chance to read, as you pointed out. Anyway, I think I’m finally coming out of it. I’ve managed to finish a couple of books, including the last Harry Potter which had been sitting in the drawer of my bedside table for about four years. The ending was really brilliant – she really can write a climax! No comments from the peanut gallery, thank you. I also really enjoyed Now You See Them which is another Elly Griffiths but part of her series set in Brighton in the 1950s and 1960s.

    • That is a long reading slump, Anna. You have my sympathy. I hate reading slumps. They’re so irritating. I hope yours is now at an end and you’ll be able to power back into some glorious reads.
      I’ve read all the Harry Potter books – I was one of those people who bought on release day and gobbled them straight up – which means it’s been ages since I read the final book and now all I can think of is the movie ending! I did love the series though. It was brilliant.
      I look forward to hearing about your fab out-of-slump reads next month!

  4. Oooh, I bought Michelle’s Maverick the other day and wow, I’m so adding Grumpy Grump Face and Watchers to my ‘must read’ list as they sound really very good and, the list gets longer and longer lol. You read a non-fiction book, Cathryn? – she who dislikes them, hmm mm hmm LOL.

    Another good reading month for me – 12 very good reads and one I could have kicked to the kerb.

    The Farmer’s Perfect Match by Marilyn Forsyth
    The Donor by Helen Fitzgerald (audio version)
    Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter DeJonge
    After the Party by Cassie Hamer (Audio version)
    I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark
    Breach of Promise by Maria Barrett
    Days of Rakes and Roses by Anna Campbell
    The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella – Very disappointed in this one, it was supposed to be amazing and funny, it wasn’t, I just hope the next one in the series is a lot better (because I bought the entire series) and that the heroine is less of an annoying and a self-indulgent, selfish prat.

    Memoirs/autobiographies:

    Never Tell Me Never by Janine Shepherd
    Under Siege by Belinda Neil (Audio version) This was excellent, sad but loved the bits on hostage negotiations and homicide investigations, fascinating stuff.
    Hey True Blue by John Williamson (Audio version) fabulous, just fab.
    Daddy’s Little Girl by Julia Latchem- Smith
    Sickened- Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory

    • LOL. I did read a non-fic book, Sue. I think that’s the third I’ve read in the last 6 months, if you don’t count cookbooks or writing craft books. I may be changing my ways!
      That’s a giant reading list. Goodness, when do you have time to do anything else? Ha! Don’t mind me. I’m just jealous.
      Yikes on the Shopoholic book. I’ve never read that series but I remember it being huuuuuge in the early nineties, back when chick lit was at its height. It’s interesting to see that rom-com is making a return. Even the cartoon covers are making a comeback.
      Thanks so much for sharing. You have such interesting reads. I might check out the Helen Fitzgerald. I read her The Cry yonks ago and really enjoyed it.

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