Author Archives: Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein

About Cathryn Hein

Best-selling Australian romance author, mad keen but inept golfer, and die-hard Sydney Swans supporter. For news, excerpts and more visit cathrynhein.com

Wednesday Blogging Challenge: Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2020

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge banner

Happy birthday to meeeee. Happy birthday to meeeeeeeeeee!

Eh hem.

Moving on to why we’re here

It’s week two of the Long and Short Reviews Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge. If you missed the first week, or are interested in how the challenge works, check out last week’s post here.

We have another fab topic this week.

Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2020

I should just list all the books in my to-be-read pile. There’s enough there to keep me busy until July at least. But let’s ignore that. Shiny new unbought books are so much prettier.

Hmm. That won’t work, because there are two on that TBR pile that I’m excited about and intend to read very soon.

The Work of Art by Mimi MatthewsThe first is The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews. I really enjoyed her Christmas story A Holiday by Gaslight (my thoughts here) and this one has me intrigued.

Second is The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. I want to see what all the fuss is about.

The other books I have in my sights are

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’ve adored their previous books and read quite a few of Kaufman’s other titles too. I know this will be brilliant. I’ll probably buy Aurora Burning when it comes out too.

King of Scars by Leigh BardugoKing of Scars by Leigh Bardugo because Grishaverse. Luuurve.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. What can I say? She’s awesome.

The Year of the Locust by Terry Hayes. His first book, I Am Pilgrim, was 700+ pages of un-put-downable thrill-ride goodness. I couldn’t rave enough about it and even sent my dad a copy before I’d finished. It’s been a long wait for the sequel (since 2013) and in September it’ll finally be here. Ooh, I can’t wait!

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge. The Lie Tree and Cuckoo Song were amazing (I talk about them here and here in My Favourite Reads), and this sounds just as good.

Hmm. There’s a bit of a young adult trend going on here. That wasn’t deliberate. These are just the books that sprung first to mind.

Marry in Haste by Anne GracieBut I’ll also be auto-buying whatever Stephen King puts out and there’ll be books by author buddies Anna Campbell, Annie West and Michelle Douglas, and series that I’m into like CJ Archer’s After the Rift books, and probably a stack of crime and horror novels. I really want to read all of Anne Gracie’s Convenient Marriage historical romance series too. And if Iona Grey has another book out, I’ll be snapping that up with lightning speed as well.

What I do want to do is read more romance. I was quite shocked to see how few I’d read when I went through last year’s reading list. This is not good. Reading romance not only makes me feel good – all hail the happy-ever-after! – it’s inspirational, motivational and helps me with my own craft. Pretty important stuff and not something I should be slack about.

Okay, my lovelies, what are you looking forward to reading in 2020? Or maybe you have the admirable goal of getting through your to-be-read pile?

Let’s share and then we can come back at the end of the year and see how we did.

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Never Miss a New Release meme

My Favourite Reads of December 2019

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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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Never Miss a New Release meme

Wednesday Blogging Challenge: My Goals for 2020

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“Ooh,” I hear you ask, “what is this?”

It’s a blogging challenge!

Let me explain

I was tooling around the internet the other day, as you do, and came across this page on popular romance reviewing website Long and Short Reviews. The page outlined a blog hop that would run for the entire year and had a graphic showing the weekly topics.

How serendipitous, I thought. I’d been wondering what else I could blog about in addition to my regular Teaser Tuesday (returning toward the end of the month) and My Favourite Reads series and these topics not only looked a lot of fun, they’d be easy to do and I could schedule them well ahead of time.

Wednesday Blogging Challenge - topics

Even better, I’d get to share the posts on the Long and Short Reviews site and join in its vibrant community.

Too many wins!

This challenge isn’t only for authors. It’s for anyone bookish. The idea is to share something each Wednesday, gain new friends, and encourage visitors to the Long and Short Reviews blog. And if once a week feels too much, that’s not a problem. You can post as much or as little as you want.

Cool, yes?

If you’d like to play along, you’ll find more information and the blogging challenge schedule here at Long and Short Reviews.

Right. Today is day one and we have a lovely topic to start the year with. It’s brief and pertinent, and something I can revisit at the end of the year to see how I went. All good.

Here we go with week one of the blogging challenge. Enjoy!

My Goals for 2020

1/. Edit and publish Scarlett and the Model Man.

Oh, you are going to adore this book! Scarlett and Sam are so sighworthy. These two are a complete delight and, as with many in the Levenham Love Story series, Audrey Wallace (aka Granny B) gets to poke in her aristocratic nose. Not that I blame her. Surfing dairy farmer Sam is well worth an ogle or ten.

If you want to be among the first to hear about its release, join my newsletter lovelies. Doing so will also give you access to a chain of short stories to savour over a cuppa and other exclusives (the gang absolutely ADORED my free Christmas story Belle and the Perfect Present last month), and it means you’ll never miss a new release. Like this blog challenge, too many wins!

2/. Write Serenity’s Song, the sequel to my Outback Brides book, Elsa’s Stand.

Many of you have asked for Serenity’s story and I’m finally going to deliver. Elsa's Stand memeFor those of you familiar with Elsa’s Stand, the hero of Serenity’s Song (working title) will be Jesse Hargreaves, naughty younger brother of Elsa’s utterly delectable man-of-few-words hero Jack.

Serenity’s Song is going to be my first ‘forced proximity’ story. I bet your mind is boggling over that one. Forced proximity in Wirralong? It can be done, trust me. I make up stuff for a living.

3/. Write a full-length novel.

Something that was on last year’s agenda, too but about which Madame Universe had other thoughts. She can be mean like that.

I have a few ideas I’m mulling over, so I can’t share anything yet. One premise is in the lead but one of the characters needs more nutting out and I’m not sure he’ll/she’ll be ready by the time it comes to write the story. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s better to wait until I have everything properly lined up rather than jumping in.

What I do promise is to share my progress and the occasional snippet on my Teaser Tuesday series. Keen to stay in the loop? Keep your eyes on this blog.

4/. Be healthy and happy!

2018 and 2019 were not the best of years. A couple of annus horribilis, as the Queen would say. But they’re behind us and from where I’m sitting right now, 2020 is looking very bright and shiny. I just KNOW it’s going to be a cracker. My positive vibes are so charged they’re bouncing around like spring bunnies.

So no horribilis-ing here. I’m firm on that. We’re going to have an annus mirabilis instead, loaded with love and laughter.

Which, you must agree, is the most important goal of all.

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Okay, my lovelies, what are your goals for 2020?

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress and occasionally bribe author buddies in to doing the same.

Now, don’t cry, my lovelies, but this is the final Teaser Tuesday of 2019.

I know, I know. It’s very sad. Never fear, we’ll be back again next year from mid to late January with lots more teasers from me and our special author friends.

So let me take this opportunity to thank you for your support throughout this year and to wish you and your families a truly wonderful holiday season and a fabulous New Year. May 2020 be brilliant for us all!

Santa and the Saddler Christmas memeSpeaking of brilliant, make sure you pick yourself up a brilliant bargain from the good folks at Kobo. They have Santa and the Saddler on sale for only 99 cents. This Romantic Book of the Year finalist will warm your heart and make you sigh and maybe even sniffle a little. All the feels, my friends. All the feels.

Don’t miss out. Grab your copy today!

Now, because it’s Christmas, I have a suuuper special present for newsletter subscribers. Coming this Wednesday to an inbox near you is my Christmas newsletter, complete with special link to a short Levenham Love Story called Belle and the Perfect Present.Belle and the Perfect Present bannerThis story is sweet and cute and chock-a-block with Christmas joy. You will smile! But as I said, it’s exclusive to newsletter subscribers. If you’d like access – and of course you do! – please join the cool kids by clicking the newsletter tab on this website. Doing so will also give you access to three other short stories, plus you’ll never miss a new release.

Okey-dokey… what would be a good teaser to end the year with?

I think there can only be one answer. The book that I know you’re hanging out for. The book that will make you all squishy inside when you read it. The book that features a surfing dairy farmer and a talented artist and has a gorgeously sweet romance you’re going to adore.

Yes, book friends, I’m going to end the year with a teaser from Scarlett and the Model Man. Only a little teaser, mind. I don’t want to be giving too many secrets away yet.

Please note: This is an unedited snippet so please forgive any wobbly bits.

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Sam wasn’t a bad-looking rooster but no way was he model material. His nose was a bit big and kinked to the left thanks to being hit by a stray surfboard and most of the time his salt-damaged hair looked like Medusa’s. At five feet eleven, he wasn’t particularly tall either. His shoulders were good though, from years of swimming and surfing, and his mum and sisters reckoned he had nice hazel eyes, not that he could see it. To Sam they had all the colours of a swamp. Maybe a sunlit one when the light shone right, but still a swamp.

Good bloke, yeah. Model, no.

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Scarlett and the Model Man will go up for pre-order in the new year. If you want to be the first to hear about it (and don’t forget that special access to Belle and the Perfect Present), join the cool newsletter gang. Besides all the news, you’ll also receive access to a couple of free short stories to enjoy over a cuppa.

Thanks and see you in 2020!

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My Favourite Reads of November 2019

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My Favourite Reads image

Welcome to another scintillating edition of My Favourite Reads.

I had a record reading month in November, with TEN books to tell you about (long airport stopovers are excellent for ploughing through your to-be-read pile).

There were some beauties too and it was hard to choose a favourite, but I’m going to give that title the first book I finished and that was

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine ArdenThe entire Winternight trilogy was brilliant (I talk about book one, The Bear and the Nightingale, here) but The Winter of the Witch? Woah! That took the biscuit, with one scene leaving me so heartbroken I bawled, while the ending providing lots of smiles and sniffles.

This had everything – drama, magic, romance, battles and stunning world-building. I adored the way Russian folklore was brought to life. Our heroine Vasya is so cool. She’s brave and smart and fallible and I loved her, and it was such fun to cheer her on. Morozko was sigh-worthy too, and don’t get me started on Solovey and the Firebird. I even thought the Bear was fun.

Historical fantasy at its finest. LOVED.

When It All Went to Custard by Danielle HawkinsWhen It All Went to Custard by Danielle Hawkins

Since her first book Dinner at Rose’s, Hawkins has been an auto-buy author for me. I’ve loved every one of her books – think New Zealand-set rural romance – and When It All Went to Custard is no exception.

This was different in that the story centres around a marriage breakdown, which sounds a bit ick but Hawkins treats even horrible situations with gentle humour.

When It All Went to Custard has laugh-out-loud moments and teary moments and was simply lovely. Highly recommended.

The Institute by Stephen KingThe Institute by Stephen King

I was very unsure about this when I started reading it. The first quarter of The Institute wasn’t terribly compelling and it had me wondering whether I’d even go on. Except… a did-not-finish Stephen King? Unimaginable!

Which is why I persevered and I’m glad I did because I enjoyed this a lot in the end. I guess you’d call The Institute a thriller more than a horror, although it did have some nice squirmy moments. I think for me it was mostly it was a story about courage.

Sword and Pen by Rachel CaineSword and Pen by Rachel Caine

Sword and Pen is the final book in the Great Library series and a cracking tale, wonderfully told. But that’s hardly a surprise. All the Great Library instalments have been excellent.

Honestly, this series has been so cool. A story where the Great Library of Alexandria not only survives but is powerful? A story about saving books, with a gorgeous and brave hero and a team of talented and selfless characters all fighting for a just cause? With subtle romances for extra spice? Gimme, baby!

Wonderful finish. Wonderful series.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly GriffithsThe Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

Author friends have been urging me to read Elly Griffiths for ages, so when The Stranger Diaries came on sale I snapped it up. I also grabbed The Stone Circle, book one in Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series while I was at it and look forward to reading that over summer.

The Stranger Diaries is a stand-alone crime novel and an enjoyable one. I adore Gothic reads, and this had plenty of atmosphere and intrigue.

Good stuff.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine AddisonThe Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Okay, so a goblin-elf fantasy novel would not normally be my thing, but after reading so many fab reviews for The Goblin Emperor it was hard to ignore. Then author buddy Anna Campbell read it and loved it, and I figured I’d better give it a go too.

This book was so charming!

I don’t know what else to say about it. Maia was the loveliest company and while it took a while to get used to the imperial plural language, even that became charming too.

Surprising and absolutely gorgeous.

Emily Chambers Spirit Medium series by CJ ArcherPossession by CJ Archer and Evermore by CJ Archer

I read the first book in the Emily Chambers Spirit Medium series (my thoughts on The Medium here) a few years ago and have been meaning to finish it but for some reason never got there. Probably because I became so distracted by Archer’s Ministry of Curiosities, Glass and Steel and After the Rift series (all of which are fab).

Possession and Evermore were terrific reads, with lots of plot twists and worry over whether Emily and Jacob would get their happy ever after, and some nice side characters too.

The Wrong Callahan by Karly LaneThe Wrong Callahan by Karly Lane

Karly is one of my favourite rural romance authors. Her books are always happy reads and so easy to relax with.

The Wrong Callahan starts off Karly’s The Callahan’s of Stringybark Creek series and I foresee lots of fun with future books. The Callahan in this case is Linc, a former soldier who now runs a security company and who has returned home to the family farm for Christmas and a wedding. He’s deliciously sexy and it’s no wonder Cash can’t help herself with him. Sounds fine but this is a romance, and nothing is meant to be easy for our hero and heroine, which means lots of emotional adventure for us.

Covers some serious territory with the PTSD issue. Great setting too.

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi MatthewsA Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

LOVED this! A Holiday by Gaslight is a sweet Christmas historical romance novella guaranteed to put you in a romantic festive mood.

Aristocratic Sophie is being courted by dour but rich merchant Edward Sharpe and it’s no fun at all. But with a profligate father sending the family broke, someone must take one for the team. Except Sophie can’t do it and she breaks off the relationship. That’s when the trouble really starts.

I adored this so much I immediately bought Matthews’ book The Work of Art.

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What did you enjoy reading in November?

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Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and occasionally con author friends in to doing the same.

How are you coping with the silly season? It’s well and truly on us now. It’s a cliché but far out this year has gone fast. Like suuuuper fast. Which is very annoying because I haven’t achieved all I wanted for the year.

Oh well, I’ll just have to work harder in the next one.

So what’s news from the Hein house?

No silly gif this week but I do have something to celebrate. The second draft of Scarlett and the Model Man is now done and will be winging its way to my editor this week. Yay!!

I had such a lovely time reading the manuscript through. It’s the sweetest romance, and Sam and Scarlett are gorgeous together. I can’t wait for you to read their story. Keep your eye out for news on its release date in the new year.

Remember, newsletter people get all the good news first. Join the cool gang here.

Now… a bargain for you.

Those wonderful people over at Kobo are hosting a Christmas sale and Santa and the Saddler is a part of it. Which means you can pick up this Romantic Book of the Year finalist for only 99 cents!

It’s not just in the Australian store either. Santa and the Saddler is 99 cents in the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand and European stores too.

Santa and the Saddler Kobo sale meme

So go get ‘em, my lovelies. This book will make you feel gooey and smiley, I promise. And at only 99 cents, that’s a feel-good bargain.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a snippet to show just how gorgeous Beth and Danny are.

Enjoy!

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Danny has taken Beth on a surprise date

‘This date business,’ said Beth after a while. ‘You know it won’t lead anywhere.’

Danny slid a look her way, his mouth curved enigmatically. ‘If you’re talking about me hoping to get you into bed, I’m not that presumptuous. Not that I don’t want to take you to bed, I do. Pretty damn badly. But I don’t expect it.’

She rolled on her side and propped her head on her hand so she could study him properly. ‘What do you expect?’

Cover of Santa and the Saddler by Cathryn HeinHe copied her movement until they were facing one another, and reached to tangle his fingers with hers. ‘I don’t expect anything. What I’d like is to spend whatever time we have together, and I don’t care how we do it.’

‘But I’m leaving. My life is in Sydney.’

‘I know, but you’ll be back to visit.’

‘Exactly. To visit. See, it’s pointless.’

‘Not pointless. Never pointless.’

Then what is it?’

What it is,’ he said, leaning closer, his gaze flickering to her mouth, ‘is right for now.’ He paused as though considering the best way to kiss her, his breath light on her lips, his skin smelling of leather and lemon, of fish and chips and sunshine. ‘Think of it as a little bit of Christmas magic.’

‘Magic, huh?’

His mouth edged even closer, his voice low and husky. ‘Well, yeah. I have been known to wear a Santa suit and channel the big fella on occasion.’

Everything inside Beth was fluttering. Pointless, stupid, whatever, she wanted this. She wanted him.

Her own voice dropped to a whisper. ‘Your version is very naughty though.’

‘Naughty but nice. Want me to show you?’

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Santa and the Saddler is available right now in ebook and print from these retailers. Grab your copy today!

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk

Kobo | Google Play | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Bookdepository | Angus & Robertson

If you’d like to learn more about Santa and the Saddler and how I came to write Beth and Danny’s story, please visit its book page on this website.

While you’re here, make sure you join my cool newsletter clan. That way you’ll never miss a new release and score excellent bonus stuff like a couple of free short stories to enjoy over a cuppa.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress and occasionally twist the arms of author buddies to do the same.

Which is exactly what’s happening today. Yes, my lovelies, we have another guest and another GIVEAWAY and I know how much you love those.

But more on that in a moment.

First, news from the Hein house.

I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF SCARLETT AND THE MODEL MAN!!!!!!

Celebration gif

Eh hem.

Finishing a book is a fab feeling, even though there’s still a long way to go before it hits shelves. There’s the second draft to do, then edits and proof reading and covers and blurbs and all sorts of stuff, but the really hard work is done. Yay!

I’ll have news on its release date in the New Year. If you want to be the first to hear, make sure you join my newsletter team. It’s where all the cool people are.

Speaking of cool people…

Today’s guest is a Teaser Tuesday favourite. She’s a medical romance writing queen, a midwifery expert, fellow Outback Brides author (with the excellent Holly’s Heart), and an all-round lovely lady. Yep, we’re hosting Fiona McArthur again. Wahoo!

Now that it’s December the silly season has well and truly begun. Authors, like singers, love putting you in the mood with Christmas tales and Fiona is joining the fray with a faaaaabulous sounding Christmas story – Midwife on the Orient Express.

Gawd I love that title. So. Much. Fun.

Here’s Fiona to tell you about Midwife on the Orient Express and share an excerpt. Make sure you read all the way to the end because that’s where the giveaway details are and we wouldn’t want you to miss out.

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Fiona McArthur authorHello everyone, waving madly as we all chug into the Christmas Season. Thanks so much for having me on your blog, again, Cathryn.  I must say, I loved your latest book, Eddie and The Show Queen, and readers, if you know someone who loves a book full of smiles, I’d be looking to Cathryn’s books for great gifts. Thanks so much for the fun gallop, CH. 🙂

Today I’d like to share excitement about another fun ride, with my new release Midwife On The Orient Express – A Christmas Miracle, which came out on the 29th November in ebook and 5th December as print through my website FionaMcArthurAuthor.com.

Midwife On The Orient Express revisits a shorter, reunion story of mine from 2011, with expanded characters, more fun and of course a baby born – I know –  I can’t help myself with a good birth. Plus, I had the joy of creating my own quirky cover with the fab Glen Holman, working with the lovely Bronwyn Jameson to polish, and availing myself of Annie Seaton’s huge knowledge on e-pubbing. Now Cathryn has offered to help me get the word out to you lovely readers, so here I am.

I’m feeling particularly blessed in my friends and my first author published book.

While I love writing for publishing houses and always hope to, I’ve been very slow to begin the indie path, but recommend the experience for those writers and readers who haven’t dipped a toe in yet. Having your fingers in all the publication pies and not just the writing is another fab journey. Please watch out for my next author-pubbed book, Midwife In The Jungle –in March 2020. The cover is going to pop up soon.

If you haven’t seen my Orient Express photos I’ve had such fun on Facebook in the two weeks prior to launch. I’ve been posting a different photo each day from our trip when medical romance author Alison Roberts and I travelled on the famous train between Venice and London back in 2011. The posted photos all depict scenes in the book and you can check them out if you’d like to drop into my author Facebook page or webpage – just for fun they are in the order they appear in the book. I’m running a ‘which photo which page in the book’ competition from my website starting 29th November and drawn the 29th February (leap year) for a print or e book copy of MIDWIFE IN THE JUNGLE (yes, there is a baby theme in my books 🙂 ) prior to release in March. Details on my webpage.

Of course, there will be a prize too, for commenting on today’s blog on Cathryn’s page for a print copy of MIDWIFE ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS which I’ll post in Australia after the first week in December. Cathryn will notify the winner on Sunday night. Meanwhile enjoy Kelsie and Lucas’s trip of a lifetime. With much love and appreciation xx Fi

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Lucas Larimar watched the shoulders of the smartly dressed woman sag as she peered under her dark cap of hair with the perplexed countenance of the unseasoned traveller. Her head dipped down at what must be a horrendously heavy suitcase.

Amused, he wondered if she’d dare try and perch on top of it. He sighed and stood to offer his seat, brushing away the niggling feeling that he knew her.

He didn’t. He was in Venice. And if he didn’t offer her his seat Gran would poke him with her silver-topped cane as if he were a kid until he did. Un­fortunately, Gran knew she was his one big weakness and the only woman he loved.

He caught his gran’s glance as she nodded approvingly and bit back a grin. Despite her age she looked like a million Euros in her pink jacket and skirt with her snow-white hair fresh from her Venetian stylist.

Midwife on the Orient Express by Fiona McArthurThe pink Kimberley diamonds at her wrist and throat glit­tered under the electric lights. Lord, he would miss the old minx when she was gone. Had to be the reason he was standing here in the first place.

He had very special clients, the Wilsons, a couple he’d worked with for years, whose tenuous assisted pregnancy had been particularly challenging, and they were all on tenterhooks until Connie Wilson had this baby safely delivered.

He’d promised her influential husband, Harry, and more importantly the nervous Connie, he’d be available twenty-four seven. He was still a helicopter ride away if needed.

But, he should be somewhere closer to them, instead of sitting on a train for the next thirty-six hours play­ing nursemaid to an eighty-year-old lady who should be at home, knitting.

Even he laughed at the idea of Gran doing anything of the sort.

The original stickler for good manners was becoming impatient and inclined her head sideways towards the woman several times and he settled her with his nod. He’d better be quick about it.

If gran was going to order him around like a school boy, Lucas mused, this could prove to be a very long thirty-six hours. He stepped closer to the woman and spoke from be­hind her. ‘Excuse me, madam. Would you like my seat?’

The woman turned, their eyes met, and recogni­tion slammed into him harder than an express train pushing a suit­case twice the size of hers.

Good grief. Thick-lashed eyes. Snub nose. That mouth. The mouth it had taken him, admittedly in his callow youth, two years to banish from his mind. A face that seemed outlined with a dark crayon lines of accent in­stead of the blur every other face seemed to hold.

Fifteen years ago.

Kelsie Summers.

‘Or perhaps you’d rather stand.’ Luckily that was under his breath because his grandmother’s eagle eye had spotted his reaction.

Stunned blue eyes stared frozenly back at his. He saw the shudder in her fragile alabaster throat as she swal­lowed, and then her tongue peeped out. Yes, you damn well should lick your lips in consternation, he thought savagely, when you left me at the registry office, cool­ing my heels.

He gestured to the seat beside his grandmother with all the reluctant invitation of a toddler giving away his last lollypop. Damn if he didn’t feel like sitting down again and turning his back.

But that would be childish and he hadn’t indulged in such weakness for a long, long, time.

But to meet her here, and if he knew his grandmother it would be the perfect diver­sion for the boredom that despite her assurances, would ultimately descend on her before they reached London, they would meet again on the train.

There must be a black cat filled with bad luck standing behind him. He almost turned to see.

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Ooooooh! A lovers-reunited romance! I love these stories. They’re wonderfully emotional because there’s much conflict and past to get over, and with Fiona at the helm in Midwife on the Orient Express, you know you’re in the hands of an expert.

Get all the Christmas feels by grabbing your copy today from:

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk

Kobo | Apple Books | Nook

Now, as we mentioned there’s a …

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win a paperback copy of Midwife on the Orient Express, we want to hear about your favourite Christmas decoration.

Are you partial to a bit of tinsel? Maybe you have a beloved heirloom decoration or handcrafted star for the top of the tree? Perhaps you make stunning gingerbread houses (in which case you are indeed a cleverclogs).

Me? I collected hand-blown glass ornaments when we lived overseas and I ADORE them. They’re very fragile and I’ve lost a few over the years in our house moves but they still make me smile whenever I get them out. I think my favourite is my Tower of London Beefeater. Although I am very partial to my Spanish Riding School bauble that I bought in Vienna. Because horses.

What about you? Share your favourite decoration and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a paperback copy of Midwife on the Orient Express.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Australian Eastern Daylight Time, Friday 6th December 2019. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @FiCatchesBabies.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and sometimes sweet-talk author buddies into doing the same.

And a sweet-talked author buddy is what we have this week!

First, news from the Hein house. I am soooo close to finishing the first draft of SCARLETT AND THE MODEL MAN. This time next week it should be done. I’ve already bought myself a celebratory pressie – a porcelain pendant featuring images from art nouveau artist Gustav Klimt‘s “Fulfilment”.

Gustav Klimt porcelain pendantIsn’t it beautiful? I couldn’t resist when I saw it, especially when I’ve been thinking so much about art and artists thanks to Scarlett, who is an artist and a very good one.

Now to find somewhere nice to wear it. Friday afternoon drinkies with some author friends sounds the ticket.

Speaking of author friends (Ha! Like that segue?), today we have a very special one on. Say hello to Teaser Tuesday regular and awesome historical romance author Anna Campbell!

You are going to luuuuurve Anna’s Teaser Tuesday this week. Not only is she sharing and excerpt from her fabulous new Christmas story The Highlander’s Christmas Quest (I love the sound of this one SO MUCH), Anna’s hosting a giveaway. Yay! Make sure you read to the end for all the details.

Now here’s Anna to tell you all about The Highlander’s Christmas Quest. Enjoy.

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Anna Campbell author - thumbnailHi Cathryn!

How did it get to be Christmas already? Thank you so much for having me back as your guest on Teaser Tuesday in this lead-up to the festive season!

In my world, the lead-up to the festive season means writing a Christmas story. This year, I had particular fun with the latest entry in the Lairds Most Likely series, The Highlander’s Christmas Quest. Like all the Lairds Most Likely stories, this one can be read as a stand-alone, so if you’d like some Highland magic to warm your Christmas stockings, why not give it a go?

When Dougal Drummond washes up on Kirsty Macbain’s Hebridean island a few days before Christmas in 1728, it’s love at first sight for her, but he’s got other fish to fry and plans to leave as soon as he’s repaired his boat. So Kirsty takes matters into her own hands and does some surreptitious sabotage to keep her beloved close and give him a chance to realize that she’s made for him. This scene takes place a few days after Dougal’s arrival when they’re working together on fixing the boat.

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Isle of Askaval, the Hebrides, Scotland, 23rd December 1728

“I’ll miss ye,” Dougal said, even as he told himself to button his lip. What was the point of harping on his regrets, when he had every intention of leaving in the morning?

Kirsty’s remarkable eyes darkened as she studied him. “I’ll miss ye, too.” Before he could identify the emotion thickening her voice, she went on quickly and in a more cheerful tone. “Ye fitted in so well with everyone on the island.”

Is that all? Dougal wanted to ask the question, but this time discretion won out and he returned to finishing his task. The early winter evening drew in, and the light in the hull was bad. But he had a nasty suspicion that wasn’t why he had trouble seeing what he needed to fix.

“Should I light the candles?” She was still too close behind him.

The Highlanders Christmas Quest by Anna CampbellHe set down the hammer and turned to face her. “No, I’ve finished. I want to…”

Damn it, she was even closer than he’d thought. Mere inches separated them. He sucked in a jagged breath, and his head flooded with the evocative scent of Kirsty. Crushed wildflowers. Warm female. A hint of the fresh salt air that always seem to swirl around her, so she seemed part of the wild sea and sky, here on her beautiful island.

“Ye want to…” she echoed, leaning closer.

Dougal swallowed to loosen a tight throat, as his heart leapt around in his chest like a grasshopper.

“I want to…” He sounded strangled. His hands formed fists at his sides, and his head swam with a hundred impossible longings.

I want to take ye in my arms.

I want to kiss ye.

I want to steal ye away across the waves and take you back to Bruard.

I want to…

He couldn’t speak any of those forbidden wishes aloud, but as Kirsty stared at him, her eyes widened as if she heard the words anyway.

“Aye?” she whispered. Although there was nobody but him to hear. Even the old men who sat outside the inn had packed up and returned to their own firesides an hour ago.

The day was almost done. Dougal had one more night on Askaval before he left forever.

That had been his aim since he arrived. Why now did that seem a punishment worse than death?

Kirsty’s lips parted. Those full, red lips that in his wicked dreams, kissed him over and over. He caught a glimpse of straight small teeth in the dark interior. The silvery eyes turned as soft and misty as the fog that swept in from the sea.

“Kirsty?” he forced out in a choked voice and realized he’d shifted even closer to her.

“Aye?” she said again, gazing unblinking into his eyes.

“Oh, hell,” he muttered and reached out to catch her upper arms in shaking hands. For one blazing, lost moment, he stared into that unforgettable face.

Then God help him, he kissed her.

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I told you this week’s Teaser Tuesday would be fabulous! Love, love, love this one and can’t wait to read it. Anna’s Christmas romances always put me in the spirit of the season and The Highlander’s Christmas Quest will put you in the mood too. Order your copy today from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Barnes & Noble

Want more of the Dougal and Kirsty? Check out a longer excerpt on Anna’s website.

Now, as we mentioned in the intro, Anna is hosting a lovely-jubbly giveaway. Here she is again to tell you about it.

GIVEAWAY!

Are you a fan of Christmas music? I have to say I love it. I can’t wait to hear the first “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” at my local supermarket. Please don’t judge me! So what’s your favourite Christmas song or carol? I’m going to go really traditional and say “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” What about you?

I’ve got a download of The Highlander’s Christmas Quest to give away to someone who leaves a comment on this post. No geographical restrictions. Think of it as an early Christmas present!

Oh, I love Christmas music too, Anna! On the modern side, I’m very partial to Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” and “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” by The Darkness. And a couple of years ago I bought The Killers’ Christmas album Don’t Waste Your Wishes and it’s bloody brilliant, especially the song “Boots”. On the trad front, I adore “We Three Kings” and of course “Silent Night.”

What about you? What is your favourite Christmas song or carol? Share in the comments and you’ll go in the draw to win an ebook of The Highlander’s Christmas Quest.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday, Australian Eastern Daylight Time, 29th November 2019. Open worldwide.

If you’d like to learn more about Anna and her wonderful novels, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @AnnaCampbelloz.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress and sometimes sweet-talk author buddies into doing the same.

We have another guest this week, one you’re going to luuuuurve, but first you must endure news from the Hein House.

We’re home from our Queensland trip. Rah! Which means I’m back to working hard on Scarlett and the Model Man. The End is most definitely nigh now. Well, the end of the first draft that is. There’s a lot of ground still to cover after that point but hitting The End is always a milestone worth celebrating. I cannot wait to share this book with you. Scarlett and Sam are gorgeous together. Makes me all gooey just thinking about them!

Enough of me and my gooeys. We’re here to enjoy a teaser, brought to you this week by Jenn J. McLeod. Yay!

Although she’s had a few guest appearances on (now archived) blog series Friday Feast, this is Jenn’s first time on Teaser Tuesday. I’m so glad to have her on, too, because I adore the sound of her new release House of Wishes. I know you will too, when you read the excerpt.

Here’s Jenn to tell you more about House of Wishes and share her teaser.

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Author Jenn J McLeodHi Cathryn! Hi all!

So great to be here on Teaser Tuesday—and WHAT a Tuesday it is. Woot!

This is release day for my 6th small-town novel and possibly the most exciting launch day ever because of all it took to get here.

As Australia’s nomadic novelist, I’ve been caravanning my way through bucket list locations since hitting the road fulltime in 2014. That was the year Simmering Season came out—my second novel set in Calingarry Crossing (with House for all Seasons being the first). And guess what? On both those bookish occasions I was here, on Cath’s Friday Feast. I even gave away my very yummy and oh-so-easy homemade muesli recipe. (If only it was as simple to set up a publishing biz, eh?)

Being an author-publisher is another bucket list item and with a hankering to return to Calingarry Crossing for some time, the perfect book to begin this journey had to be House of Wishes. Thanks to a coffee catchup with awesome reader fans, Sharyn Rees and Janine Kimberly, I’m back in Calingarry Crossing with the Dandelion House ready to reveal its secrets. (Don’t worry if you are new to my novels. All my stories are standalone reads, although House of Wishes does have a sprinkling of character cameos. I really had fun with that aspect.)

In a nutshell, House of Wishes is a family relationship story about the choices we make, the connections that matter, the secrets we keep, and the power of a wish. With two story threads (current day and 1974) there are also two love stories. Even though the novel begins with a grieving daughter discovering her mother’s last wish, I promise the story is not all sad. As with all my books, you’ll laugh, maybe you’ll cry, but what I really hope is that you’ll love Tom and Don, because I do have fun writing a male point of view.

Please, let me know. I love to hear from readers.

House of Wishes is available in print and ebook through all online retailers. If you prefer supporting your local bookshop, ask them to order a copy in.  Or you can buy direct from me via my web shop and I’ll send a signed copy with a snazzy bookmark.  Don’t forget, you can also choose to ask your library to order in a copy.

I hope you enjoy this House of Wishes excerpt.

If you have a wish you’d like to share, leave it in the comments below. I reckon the power of a wish is so much stronger when it’s shared. I’ll start: “I wish for an e-reader that magically fills with endless Aussie fiction.”

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‘I’m so very, very sorry for the confusion,’ a voice says.

Beth hears words reminiscent of her mother—a chronic apologiser raised by religious parents—but when she stands, she sees a woman whose voice is as ethereal as her appearance: skin ivory, hair ebony, eyes cerulean, but with lips blood red.

‘Hello, I’m Jesamiah Huckenstead. This should’ve been with your mother’s ashes.’ The stranger, dressed entirely in mauve and smelling like a life-size lavender bag, holds out an envelope. ‘As you’ll see, her wishes are very specific.’ The woman is talking while walking a bewildered Beth back through the reception area, opening the front door wide to let her pass. ‘Should you need to contact me, however …’

Beth glances at the proffered business card:

Madgick & AssociatesTrust Managers

In Madgick we trust.

‘Take care of yourself, dear,’ the woman says, letting the stationery and the envelope fall into the gift bag with the ashes. ‘Have a good and safe trip.’

‘Trip?’ Beth repeats.

House of Wishes by Jenn J McLeodWith her head spinning from the somewhat rushed exit, both her hands busy with bags, and her gaze intent on the contents, it takes her a few seconds to look up. When she does, the woman is gone, the door sign flipped to CLOSED, and Beth is on the footpath outside Forget-Me-Knot Funerals alone—utterly and desperately alone.

*

Back in her car, Beth eases the envelope open as if whatever is inside needs to stay contained until she’s ready. The truth is, Beth is nowhere near ready for more surprises—good or bad. She’s already said goodbye to her mother too many times: at both the hospital and the funeral service. Beth’s not sure she can manage another farewell. Not yet.

A tear lands on the two notepad pages she’s slipped from the envelope but, with barely a few lines above the scrawled signature, there’s little ink to smudge. The page is headed: MY WISH, while the other sheet is reminiscent of a treasure map, a childlike diagram with squiggles and symbols surrounding a circle at the centre. The envelope’s contents pose two simple questions in Beth’s mind: When had her mother prepared for her death? And why is she wanting half her ashes placed with her partner in a lawn cemetery of his family’s choosing, but insisting her grieving daughter spread the rest in a country town Beth has never heard of before now?

‘Why, Mum?’ She slumps in the car seat, slaps the letter on her knees, and opens the Maps app on her mobile phone. ‘And where the hell is Calingarry Crossing?’

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Wow. What a teaser. Loved it. And I bet you did too which means you want to get your hot little hands on this book right now. Oh, yes you do!

Houses of Wishes is available now in print and ebook from these retailers:

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

Remember, you can also order signed copies direct through Jenn’s website, where you’ll also score a cool bookmark.

Now, as Jenn said, sharing can make wishes stronger. So here’s mine. My apologies for it being not very light-hearted but it’s heartfelt. I wish this rotten illness I have would disappear right now so I can stop taking all these horrible drugs and get my life back to normal.

What’s yours? I rather like Jenn’s of an e-reader full of Aussie reads – but I think we’d all like that. Join in the fun and share away in the comments. You never know, it might help make your wish come true!

If you’d like to learn more about Jenn and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @jennjmcleod.

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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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