Category Archives: Favourite Reads

My Favourite Reads of May 2018

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Welcome to the latest edition of My Favourite Reads. A tad late again, but regular blog readers will know from recent Teaser Tuesdays that we had to take a short-notice journey to north Queensland and that has put me a bit off schedule. Not to worry, I’m home and making amends!

I am not, however, enjoying the cold weather. I’ve been donning a thick beanie for my morning walks, and it was so bitter when I was out running chores on Tuesday I had to pull my fleecy hoody over my head. Neither is a good look, but at least beanies and hoodies keep my ears from freezing.

Enough of my cold weather woes. Let’s get on to my favourite reads of May.

I’ve been thinking quite hard on my favourite and the truth is I can’t really choose. Yeah, that’s a bit of a cop-out but all the books were enjoyable, suited my mood at the time and made me happy. Given what was occurring around me, that’s exactly what I needed.

Here they are.

The Alchemist’s Secret by Scott MarianiThe Alchemist’s Secret by Scott Mariani

I’ve had this book on my e-reader for at least four years now and could never get into it. That happens, as I’m sure you understand. It doesn’t matter how good a book is, sometimes you’re just not in the mood.

This time round I had no trouble and found The Alchemist’s Secret a great ride. If you love a Dan Brown style action-adventure-mystery-thriller, then this is smack in your zone.

The first in Mariani’s long-running Ben Hope series that so far tallies 17 books. Clearly he’s doing something right!

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book has been a blockbuster seller of late so naturally I had to see what all the fuss was about.

It’s a wonderful story about a damaged but strong – if socially clumsy – woman making her way in a world she doesn’t quite relate to. Eleanor is a great character, but I adored Raymond. He’s my kind of hero.

A read to make you feel good and smile at the joy of friendship.

 

Extinct by RR HaywardExtinct by RR Hayward

I’ve raved about this totally bonkers series before in previous Favourite Reads (Extracted here and Executed here).

Extinct is the last in the trilogy and it didn’t let me down. The plot is funny, action-packed, potty-mouthed, violent, sort-of sexy, and completely over the top. The characters no different. They are so cool! But old-fashioned, decent and ridiculously brave Harry is my favourite.

A rollicking ride. Loved it.

 

The Convent’s Secret by CJ ArcherThe Convent’s Secret by CJ Archer

This series is so comforting. I know when I grab a new Glass and Steele book that I’m in for a hugely entertaining read, filled with mystery, romance and characters I fell in love with from first meeting.

Things have really moved along for Matt, India and the gang but I suspect there’ll be several backward steps in future books. I hope so. Journeying with this group as they tackle all the many obstacles thrown at them is what makes it fun.

Yeah, I’m a total fangirl, but I can’t recommend this series enough.

 

Deadly Secrets by Robert BryndzaDeadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza

Another comfort read that hit the spot. Deadly Secrets was a cracking addition to the Detective Erika Foster series. Maybe even my favourite.

The mystery in Deadly Secrets was very tangled – so many suspects to choose from – and Erika’s life took a few interesting turns too.

I’ll be auto-buying the next when it comes out.

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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My Favourite Reads of April 2018

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Welcome to another edition of My Favourite Reads. There are few positives to being sick, but one of them is reading time. Thanks to me catching a horrid lurgy that required lots of miserable fevery hours in bed or on the couch with my blanky, April was a great reading month.

I enjoyed some excellent books too, which made it very hard to choose a favourite, but my favourite is a story that continues to resonate in my mind, and that story is …

The Juliet Code by Christine Wells

The Juliet Code by Christine WellsI’ve adored all Christine’s books so far. The Wife’s Tale and The Traitor’s Girl were wonderful reads, so I was super keen to get into the The Juliet Code. Obviously, it didn’t disappoint!

This book had everything I adore – intrigue, romance, atmosphere, fantastic characters and a plot loaded with delicious twisty-turns. There’s love and betrayal, heroics and evil. And, if that wasn’t enough, The Juliet Code is also beautiful to look at. That cover just demands to be stroked lovingly.

Snap up a copy for yourself today. You won’t regret it.

 

The Family Next Door by Sally HepworthThe Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

Fans of domestic thrillers will love this one set in a “nice” suburban street where everyone looks successful and normal. Except hiding behind their veils of normal are families thick with secrets, and they’re about to be exposed.

The Family Next Door was a compelling read with a cool plot twist.

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernanThe Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

A terrific crime novel set in Ireland and introducing Cormac Reilly, an interesting new detective who I’ve read we’ll also see in a second book, and more after that I’m sure.

The Ruin was a nicely atmospheric, gritty and solidly plotted murder-mystery. Also topical.

Enchant by Demelza CarltonEnchant by Demelza Carlton

I read this one when I was under the weather and it was the perfect pick-me-up. Enchant is the first in Demelza’s Romance a Medieval Fairytale series, this one based around Beauty and the Beast. It’s fast-paced, with a cool female lead and fun plot. Perfect for an afternoon blanky snuggling with a book.

You can pick Enchant up for free on Amazon.

Redemption Point by Candice FoxRedemption Point by Candice Fox

Ooh, I enjoyed this one, probably even more than the first, Crimson Lake. It was so good to catch up with Ted and Amanda again, and to see how their lives were progressing. Pretty rockily, but that’s exactly what makes this series so page-turnery. That and the great writing.

Candice Fox’s stand-alone novels remain an auto-buy for me. Can’t wait for the next.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm GladwellThe Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Apart from writing craft books, of which I own a ridiculous amount, and books bought specifically for story research, I’m not a big reader of non-fiction. Most of the time I either don’t finish the books or skim-read until I get to a good bit, but I read The Tipping Point the entire way through.

Gladwell’s argument for why some things reach a tipping point and take off was compelling. I also liked his entertaining style. There were some eye-widening examples given too.

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth HoganThe Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

This was a lovely book, filled with warmth and gentle English humour. It’s more like two stories, really, related but not parallel, and each as charming as the other. I loved Bomber and Eunice. They were fun (although I found their story bittersweet). Anthony’s, Laura’s, Freddy’s and Sunshine’s tale is a bit more complex, but no less entertaining.

I enjoyed the ‘lost things’ stories, too. They were clever and some had real bite.

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn HamiltonHero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

The final book in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy. I’m sad to leave this world! It was such a richly built one, loaded with magic and mayhem, heroes and baddies, and others that could slide either way, depending on circumstances. Amani was a terrific heroine, and the other characters wonderfully realised. Shazad was brilliant. Loved her.

Overall, a satisfying way to end the series.

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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My Favourite Reads of March 2018

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads, a tad late this month because I’m still trying to recover from the rotten lurgy I caught over Easter and which hammered me flat for over a week. I’m like a koala at the moment and can’t stop sleeping. All very nice – I do enjoy a good nap – but it’s not doing my writing production any good at all.

But on to lovelier things, like books!

Without further ado, my favourite read for March was…

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffOh, what a brilliant ending to a brilliant series!

I thought Illuminae would be hard to beat – it was so clever and exciting and fresh – then came along Gemina and it was fantastic too. Which meant Obsidio had a whole lot to live up to. As expected from these two expert authors, it did just fine. More than fine. I gobbled this down and then was left bereft when it was over.

Every book in the The Illuminae Files was a joy. The female characters were the best – strong, sassy and super smart. It was no wonder the heroes loved them so much. In fact, all the characters were fantastically drawn, even Aiden, the bonkers artificial intelligence.

Honestly, even is sci-fi isn’t your thing, give this series a go because it’s really, really cool.

Magpie Murders by Anthony HorowitzMagpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz has quickly become one of my favourite authors. His Sherlock Holmes books, The House of Silk and Moriarty, were excellent. As soon as I saw Magpie Murders I put it on my to-be-read list.

This was so cleverly done. A book within a book, with murder and mystery and red-herrings galore. I’ll admit that I spent quite a few pages wondering where Horowitz was heading with the Atticus Pund story, but my trust in him kept me reading, and the book turned out huge fun. I do love a good twist and Horowitz does them very well.

His new release, The Word is Murder, recently hit shelves and I snapped it up straight away.

Hot Italian Nights by Annie WestBound to the Italian’s Boss by Annie West, The Italian’s Bold Reckoning by Annie West, At the Italian’s Bidding by Annie West, Falling for the Brooding Italian by Annie West

As I mentioned in last month’s Favourite Reads, I’ve been having a wonderful time devouring Annie’s Hot Italian Nights series. They were perfect during the tumult of house moving, but even when things settled down I couldn’t stop reading them. They’re so deliciously addictive!

I’d caught up with the series – which you can buy as a boxed set – about midway through the month, but I read in Annie’s newsletter this week that book 7, The Italian’s Marriage Bargain, has just hit shelves. Rah!

If you love sexy, glamorous romances that tug at your heartstrings (and make you long for travel), grab this series.

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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My Favourite Reads of February 2018

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Welcome to another edition of My Favourite Reads. February was a difficult month for reading. I had a couple of contest entries for the Romance Writers of Australia’s prestigious Romantic Book of the Year (Ruby) award to get through, plus, as many of you are aware, we were moving house. That didn’t leave much time for sleep, let alone picking up a book.

I can’t tell you about the Ruby books but I can tell you about the others, of which my favourite was…

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

From Sand and Ash by Amy HarmonSet in Italy in World War II, From Sand and Ash is the impossible, sweeping tale of a Catholic boy and Jewish girl. It’s heartbreaking, hopeful, traumatic, passionate and beautiful.

Much of the country is under Nazi rule, putting Eva and her family in terrible danger. Eva is a survivor though, brave, resourceful, and incapable of remaining passive in the face of evil. Angelo is no less courageous, doing all he can to help Eva, her people and others facing unspeakable fates.

Though Angelo and Eva’s love is forbidden on so many levels, it’s so strong they’ll protect each other with every ounce of themselves. But how can love be enough at a time like this?

I was worried sick all through this book that it wasn’t going to give me a satisfying ending. The odds seemed too impossible, but this was an Amy Harmon story and having read a few of hers now, I had faith. Eva’s and Angelo’s treacherous journey remained believable and satisfying, even if it did make me bawl. A lot.

The Woman in the Window by AJ FinnThe Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

There’s been a lot of hype around The Woman in the Window and with good reason – it’s an excellent read. Fast paced, tricksy, and full of mystery and drama.

I enjoyed trying to guess who was telling the truth and who wasn’t, and I particularly liked the portrayal of Anna’s illness. As for the opening pages, they were rippers. Made this author very jealous.

Nightmare House by Douglas CleggNightmare House by Douglas Clegg

Regular readers of My Favourite Reads will know how much I adore a horror tale and this book has been sitting on my e-reader for a while. What better time to give yourself house issues than when moving into a new one?

Set in the 1920s, Nightmare House follows Estaban (or Ethan as he’s known) as he ventures into the countryside to claim his inheritance – a creepy old house that’s even creepier, more mysterious and labyrinthine inside than it looks from the outside. Weird gothic fun with bonus strange locals.

BackBack in the Italian’s Bed by Annie West in the Italian’s Bed by Annie WestBought by the Italian by Annie West

Annie’s Hot Italian Nights novella series has proved perfect for this busy time. They’re wonderfully pacy, skipping along with lots of action and attraction and, of course, passion. Think uber wealthy and uber hot Italian playboys being turned inside out emotionally by smart, sassy women who match them at every level, and lots of gorgeous countryside.Bought by the Italian by Annie West

I’ve been devouring these books like lollies – they’re bargain priced at major ebook retailers – so expect to see more featured in next month’s Favourite Reads.

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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My Favourite Reads of January 2018

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Welcome to the first edition of My Favourite Reads for 2018!

I thought I’d get lots of reading done in January but nup. Too many other things going on. I also seem to have had a bit of a crime/thriller/horror binge. No idea why. Usually there’s at least one romance on my reading list but not last month. Guess I must’ve been in a thrillery mood.

VERY hard to choose a favourite though, because all four reads were excellent, but I nominate…

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk Man by CJ TudorThis was a fantastic read. The Chalk Man hooked me from the opening pages and didn’t let go.

It’s a bit cross genre. A thriller mixed with crime, mystery and horror, and just the kind of thing I adore, especially when the storytelling is of this quality. The writing was brilliant too. If the author had been listed as Stephen King I wouldn’t have been at all surprised. Yup, it was that good.

Set in a small village in England, The Chalk Man swaps between the present and the mid-eighties, when Eddie, the narrator, was a young boy, riding his bike around town with his mates, doing all the things that young boys do. When they discover a dismembered body, life is never the same for any of them.

Cool plot twists, well-written characters, great writing and a satisfying ending. Loved it.

The Mayfly by James HazelThe Mayfly by James Hazel

Another cracking read, also featuring the discovery of a mutilated body in the woods. The Mayfly also switches between time periods, in this case between the present and World War II, and has the same cross genre elements as The Chalk Man along with lots of plot twists. That’s where the similarities end though. This is a very different book.

The Mayfly introduces us to Charlie Priest, a far from average lawyer and who I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of in future books. Charlie suffers from dissociate disorder which adds extra challenge to his already highly challenging predicament, i.e. he’s a suspect in a gruesome murder.

Great stuff.

The Deep by Michaelbrent CollingsThe Deep by Michaelbrent Collings

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a couple of years now, after I heard horror writer Michaelbrent Collings speak about writing on a webcast. I was so impressed with what he had to say it left me determined to read one of his books, and The Deep seemed popular and something I’d enjoy. It just took me longer to get around to than I thought!

And enjoy I did. I adore horror novels anyway, but what made The Deep such fun was the storytelling. The pace made it very hard to put down, and every character was intriguing. I LOVED Haeberle. He was brilliantly bonkers.

I’m going to have to read more of Collings’ books. Like J.A Konrath’s, they are smack in my zone.

he Marsh King's Daughter by Karen DionneThe Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King’s Daughter has a fab premise. The heroine Helena’s mother is an abductee, lured off the street as a teenager and taken into the Michigan wilderness where she’s forced into sexual and domestic servitude. Brought up in a home where violence and brutality are normal and survival skills learned early, Helena eventually gets away. Her father is caught. Helena buries her past as deep as it will go and tries to make a normal life.

Then her father escapes.

High stakes, great setting, a fantastic strong heroine and a page-turning plot. A blast.

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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My Favourite Reads of December 2017

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Welcome to the final edition of My Favourite Reads for 2017. What a great reading year! I read 70 books this year (not including those I judged for the Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of America Ruby and Rita awards). That’s down on last year’s 88 but still good going. I think the difference comes from reading fewer novellas and shorter novels in 2017 compared to 2016, however I could be wrong with that.

I had a blast with my December reads, catching up on favourite series and trying some new-to-me authors. With four standouts it was very hard to choose a favourite, but I had an absolute ball with…

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan SpoonerI adored the Starbound trilogy by these two talented authors, it was one of my favourite reads of last year (my thoughts on those books here), so buying Unearthed when it came out was a no-brainer. Unearthed didn’t disappoint. It had the same action and intrigue and romance as the Starbound books.

Mia is scavenging the planet Gaia for valuable alien tech to sell so she can free her beloved sister. Jules is a (totally sighworthy) British scholar determined to solve the riddle of The Undying, an extinct alien race who may not be as benign as everyone on Earth wants them to be. Something he can’t do if scummy scavengers keep stealing the clues.

There’s action, romance, creepy goings on, puzzles, bad guys, really bad guys, ticking clocks, and all set an uninhabitable planet.

This is being spruiked as Indiana Jones in space, probably because that’s exactly what it is, which makes Unearthed waaaay cool. Bring on the sequel!

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa TahirA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

This is the sequel to the brilliant An Ember in the Ashes. Even though I bought A Torch Against the Night ages ago I’ve been holding off from reading so there wouldn’t be such a big gap between reading it and book 3, which comes out in April.

As with the first book, A Torch Against the Night contains lots of unexpected twists, along with plenty of action and a good dollop of romance. And it’s wonderfully visual. I feel like I’m there with Elias and Laia and Helene in their dystopian world as they cope with their dangerous journeys and conflicts. I also love how evil the Warden and Commandant are. Their nastiness makes them even more fun to follow.

Cold Blood by Robert BryndzaCold Blood by Robert Bryndza

Another series I’m enjoying hugely, but I’m a sucker for a good crime novel and Bryndza’s are very satisfying.

Cold Blood is the 5th featuring Detective Erika Foster, and she’s in excellent form. Well, excellent for her sometimes screwed-up life, but that’s what we love about these popular fictional detectives – they’re brilliant and flawed in equal measure. Cold Blood has dismembered bodies in suitcases, a serial killer, terrible betrayals, and danger for Erika, and all that before the stakes get really high.

These books are great page-turners and so easy to read. Love them.

The Undateable by Sarah TitleThe Undateable by Sarah Title

Oh, I wish I’d thought of this premise! A librarian unwittingly has her scowly face turned into a viral internet meme called the Disapproving Librarian, but our heroine is not your stereotypical mousy (or pucker-faced) booklady. Bernie is clever, with a good job, lovely friends and is perfectly happy with herself and her life. If people want to get their jollies from her disapproving expression, that’s their issue. Bernie will just carry on, thank you very much.

But when an internet magazine urges her into a makeover and 30 dates in 30 days type challenge, with a dishy staff writer assisting and writing about each date, a whole lot of fun and excellent banter ensues.

The Undateable is a cute, fab romance.

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund LuptonThe Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

Lupton’s Sister and Afterwards were fantastic reads – deeply emotional and thrilling, and total page-turners. The Quality of Silence has that same latter attribute, with the suspense built early and not letting up. Alaska in winter is perilous enough but with someone on Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby’s trail as they race to find Yasmin’s husband, the danger is even more profound.

My favourite – and the most thought-provoking – parts were those in Ruby’s point of view. Her arguments about her voice and how she needs it to be heard her own way, as opposed to how her mother wants, were very moving.

The Damned by Andrew PyperThe Damned by Andrew Pyper

My second favourite read of December. I love a good horror story, and The Damned was an absolute ripper. I raced through it in a day or so.

This is a tale about twins – our hero, Danny, and his ‘ugly-beautiful’ sister Ash. Both should have died on their 16th birthday, but Danny somehow survives and goes on to write a famous book about his near-death experience. Fame and wealth mean nothing when Ash has the power to haunt him wherever he is. If Danny want’s a ‘normal’ life, he needs to get rid of her.

The characterisations in The Damned were fantastic. I’ll be returning for a second look so I can study how he did them so effortlessly.

Wimmera by Mark BrandiWimmera by Mark Brandi

Another close contender for my favourite read of the month. Brandi’s story brought back many memories from my own childhood, especially long summer holidays at our beach shack, when it was perfectly normal for us kids to disappear off adventuring for a day, returning home only when hunger or thirst struck, tired, thrilled and usually sunburnt. Fortunately, my childhood was free of darkness, unlike Fab and Ben’s in Wimmera.

Wonderfully written, this is a short but punchy crime/mystery novel, filled with finely observed detail, anxiety inducing scenes, and bucketloads of atmosphere. Quite a few times I wanted to yell aloud in the hope the characters would hear my warnings but, sadly, no.

Caraval by Stephanie GarberCaraval by Stephanie Garber

Ooh, this was fun and yet another contender for my favourite read. I gobbled this one down, hooked by the mystery and illusion of the game our heroine Scarlett must play and, more importantly, win. I liked the fantasy of the Caraval world, the multiple twists and the high stakes, which got even higher as the game progressed. There’s magic and romance and intrigue and puzzles, and a lot of red herrings. And the ending gives a nice hint of what we can expect in the sequel.

Loved it.

What were your favourite reads of December?

 

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My Favourite Reads of November 2017

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I’m a little late with My Favourite Reads this month. We’re all so busy this time of the year, aren’t we? The Christmas silly season is well and truly upon us, but it’s fun, too, with all the parties and decorations. There are streets near me where I think there’s some sort of Christmas lights war happening between the neighbours. The effort some have gone to is eye-popping!

November was a bit lean for me reading-wise but as usual those I did read were terrific. Good friend Anna Campbell certainly helped put me in a festive mood with her new release The Christmas Stranger. But the title of favourite must go to…

The Pretty Delicious Café by Danielle Hawkins

The Pretty Delicious Cafe by Danielle HawkinsI am a huuuuuge fan of Hawkins, whose debut novel Dinner at Rose’s was an absolute joy of a book (my thoughts on that here). As was her second release, Chocolate Cake for Breakfast. The Pretty Delicious Café didn’t disappoint.

This book is funny, sweet, heart-warming, romantic, quirky and, as the title suggests, filled with delicious things. There are even bonus recipes at the back. The setting for this one was great too. An idyllic seaside town that makes me want to book a trip to New Zealand ASAP.

I adore Hawkins’s romances. They’re delightful and real and if you like Aussie rural romance then you need to try Danielle Hawkins too. I promise you’ll have a wonderful time and finish reading with a big smile.

 

The Christmas Stranger by Anna CampbellThe Christmas Stranger by Anna Campbell

My second favourite read of the month. Yes, Anna and I are buddies and feel free to call me biased, but I honestly think her books are wonderful. The hero and heroine of The Christmas Stranger are so lovely, you can’t help cheering like mad for both as they struggle with their attraction.

Romances where the hero and heroine are trapped together are a blast, although I don’t think Josiah and Maggie see it quite the same way at the beginning of their story! Ooh, now that reminds me of one of my all-time favourite Anna Campbell’s – Her Christmas Earl. That’s a forced proximity romance too.

The Christmas Stranger is only 99 cents on Amazon. Get festive and romantic with a copy today!

 

The Magician's Diary by CJ ArcherThe Magician’s Diary by CJ Archer

I love this series. Love it. Matthew and India’s romance is fraught with conflict and twists. I know they’ll get together eventually, but it’s such frustrating fun to follow them as they struggle with their attraction and more and more obstacles are thrown in their way.

As with CJ’s Ministry of Curiosities series, the characters in the Glass and Steele books are great, and the stories made even richer thanks to some romantic subplots.

The Convent’s Secret is out in March. You can guarantee I’ll be reading it.

 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is one of my absolute favourites. Her writing is vivid and lush, and she weaves beautiful fantasies.

Strange the Dreamer is very much in the same vein. It’s big and dense with expert world-building, and the character of Strange is very imaginative. I had no idea this was the first in a series and was a bit taken aback to have it end without resolution, but that’s my fault for not checking. Now the wait for book 2!

 

What were your favourite reads?

 

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My Favourite Reads of October 2017

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It’s time for My Favourite Reads again, where I share the cool books I’ve been reading and love hearing about yours.

Although I didn’t get as much reading done as I’d like in October, the books I did get through were great fun, and included 3 new-to-me authors that I’d happily read again.

No question about which was my favourite read. Loved this book. LOVED!

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

Lost for Words by Stephanie ButlandOh, this book! It made me smile and cry and generally want to cuddle everyone in it. Well, almost everyone.

This was a recommendation from Miranda, who writes on the excellent Breathless in the Bush blog. It sounded smack in my zone so I downloaded a sample and was immediately hooked by the voice of its heroine, the wonderfully named Loveday Cardew.

Loveday is bookish, introverted and calls herself ‘hard work’ and to be fair she is but, as with all flawed characters, there’s a reason for that which you’ll discover as you read.

I won’t give any more away. You can read the blurb and other reviews for yourself and work out if it’s for you. But if you like heart-warming stories about love and books and finding courage, and gorgeous characters you can’t help but adore, then take a look at Lost for Words.

Utterly charming.

Suicide Forest by Jeremy BatesSuicide Forest by Jeremy Bates

I enjoy a good scare and like trying new authors, and the premise and setting of Suicide Forest sounded interesting which was more than enough excuse for me to grab this book when I saw it advertised. The title pretty much says it all. This is a book about a forest in Japan near Mount Fuji called Aokigahara. Sadly, it isn’t fictional. Aokigahara really is a suicide forest, with many people choosing to end their lives there.

This story is about a disparate group of people whose plans to climb Mount Fuji are waylaid when bad weather sets in. Instead, they choose to explore Aokigahara, with Blair Witch Project (a movie from the late 90s) type consequences. A bit bonkers in places but still a fun horror-thriller, and I enjoyed Bates’s writing and will look for more in his World’s Scariest Places series. The next one, The Catacombs, sounds cool.

If you’re interested in giving Suicide Forest a try, it’s currently listed as free on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Nook.

The Night Parade by Ronald MalfiThe Night Parade by Ronald Malfi

Malfi’s writing reminded me of Joe Hill, who is an auto-read author for me. After reading The Night Parade I suspect Malfi might become the same.

The Night Parade was an enjoyable post-apocalyptic road-trip tale in which much of the population has been struck down by a strange virus. Hope could lie within an eight-year-old girl except she’s on the run with her father, who’s wanted for questioning over his wife’s death.

My local library has a copy of Malfi’s December Park. It’s going on my to-read list.

His Majesty’s Temporary Bride by Annie WestHis Majesty’s Temporary Bride by Annie West

Annie never lets me down. Her romances are sexy, sumptuous and emotional, and the opening scene in this one was an absolute cracker!

The rest of His Majesty’s Temporary Bride was just as terrific. Our heroine Cat Dubois’s normal job is bodyguarding celebrities but thanks to her uncanny resemblance to Princess Amelie of St Galla, she’s been coerced into impersonating the missing princess (can’t wait to read Amelie’s story). All very simple… But this is an Annie West romance, and nothing is ever that simple.

Cat is tough, smart, and the perfect foil for visiting monarch King Alexander who might look regal and untouchable on the outside, but is a caring, sensitive and honest man inside. He’s also totally hot and dead snoggable, and when these two get together… fireworks!

A lovely Cinderella-type romance.

Darkest Place by Jaye FordDarkest Place by Jaye Ford

Ah, I do love Ford’s books. She’s an absolute master of tension and suspense, and Darkest Place was no exception.

This one’s set in Newcastle, a city I adore and will be moving back to next year, and I had a fab time recognising landmarks while reading. Darkest Place is clever too. Pretty much everyone was a suspect and there were times when it was equally plausible to think that the heroine Carly’s experiences might all be in her head.

Another terrific thriller. Ford’s books also tend to have a subtle romance thread that makes them even more appealing.

Hmm. I wonder when her next will be out…

 

What were your favourite reads of October?

 

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My Favourite Reads of September 2017

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Welcome to another edition of my favourite reads. It’s a tad late this month because I’ve been putting all my writing energy into a new book and, as much as I love the blog, the books must come first.

Talk about a cracking month for reading. I know I say that quite a bit but I truly read some beauties this month. The stand-out favourite has to be…

The Drifter by Anthea Hodgson

The Drifter by Anthea HodgsonAn absolute first class rural romance. Love, love, loved it. Wonderful characters, great setting, gorgeous romance and beautiful writing. Spot on.

In the interests of disclosure, I must reveal that I met Anthea (who is lovely) for the first time back in August at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Brisbane, at which she gave me a signed copy of The Drifter. It sounded pretty good to me so I was happy to give it a whirl.

One of the cool things about knowing an author is that you feel perfectly fine sending them late night rave-y emails about their book. Which is exactly what I did with Anthea. I was so GOBSMACKED by this story that I had to let her know straight away. And warn that I would never speak to her again if she didn’t come good with the happy ever after I wanted.

So, if you’re a rural romance fan, and have yet to read The Drifter, hie thee to your nearest bookshop, library or ebook retailer and get your copy now. This book is amazeballs.

Defy the Stars by Claudia GrayDefy the Stars by Claudia Gray

A wonderful young adult sci-fi romance with lots of action and fantastic conflict between the hero and heroine.

I read Gray’s A Thousand Pieces of You and enjoyed that (really should read books 2 & 3 in that series) but I think this one tugged my heartstrings a lot more because the romance felt so impossible, yet I still wanted it. It was nicely paced too. I adore books where the characters keep hitting major setbacks and I suffer lots of ‘oh no!’ moments, but also can’t stop reading because I just KNOW they’re brave enough and will find something extra within themselves or each other to get through.

Bring on book 2 in this series!

The Dark Lake by Sarah BaileyThe Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

An excellent Australian crime thriller that I liked a lot. Plenty of twists and turns and lots of atmosphere.

This is one of those books where the author had a great knack of making me feel anxious for the heroine. I love that. And what’s interesting is the heroine isn’t especially likable. She’s full of flaws, yet those flaws and her situation only makes the suspense more intense. Good stuff.

Kings Cage by Victoria AveyardKing’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Book 3 in the Red Queen young adult fantasy series sees Mare and the gang in all sorts of trouble with no apparent way out. There’s lots of political manoeuvring in this one and we also start to get a better idea of how Maven came to be the person he is.

I’m not sure this had the punch of the first two books. I loved those but this one not to the same degree, perhaps because it had less romance and more scheming and skulduggery. I’ll be curious to see where the fourth book goes.

Undiscovered by Anna HackettUndiscovered by Anna Hackett

This is the first book of Anna Hackett’s I’ve read and it won’t be the last. Undiscovered was a terrific read! Having written a romantic adventure myself with The French Prize, I’m a bit of a fan of the genre and Undiscovered had everything I love in spades.

Think Indiana Jones, The Mummy and Tomb Raider all wrapped up into one action-packed and sexy read, but with a whole bunch of hot men (and women) waiting in the wings to keep the Treasure Hunter Security series rollicking along for aaaages. Excellent.

Even better, Undiscovered is currently free on Amazon. Go get ‘em!

 

What were your favourite reads of September?

 

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Favourite Reads of August 2017

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Welcome to the booky goodness that is My Favourite Reads.

Not so many on my reading list this month, mainly due to the (wonderful) distraction that was the Romance Writers of Australia conference.

I’m having a hard time choosing my favourite read of August. They were all terrific and all very different, but I think I’ll have to go with…

And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

And Fire Came Down by Emma ViskicI loved Emma’s debut Resurrection Bay which featured hearing impaired private investigator Caleb Zelic. It was twisty and surprising, and a total page-turner. And Fire Came Down is book two in what I hope will become a long-running series.

Caleb is such an engaging character. He’s proud – too proud sometimes – and refuses to let his deafness dictate his life. He’s also loyal, clever, and very brave. And he loves fiercely. It’s no wonder I adore him.

Small town Resurrection Bay features again in this complex and often moving crime story about drugs, racism, family and much more, and it’s so well drawn that it’s its own character. As for the other players, they were brilliant too.

Highly recommended.

Executed by RR HaywoodExecuted by RR Hayward

Book 2 in the Extracted trilogy. My thoughts on book 1, Extracted, here.

Another rollicking read that I enjoyed hugely. There’s a lot of humour here, along the fighting, swearing, violence and technology we saw in the first book. To be honest, it does go a bit over the top, but that’s also what made me love it.

I find I’m becoming increasingly partial to these slightly bonkers books. They’re just so entertaining!

Hurry up book 3.

The Desert King’s Captive Bride by Annie WestThe Desert King’s Captive Bride by Annie West

Ooh, Annie really outdid herself with hero Huseyn. What a man! So rugged, so strong, so rugged… Okay, so I like them a bit rough around the edges but Huseyn is a man of many talents, and this desert warrior knows not only how to ride and fight, he also knows how to work a suit. And take over a kingdom. Fortunately, our heroine Princess Ghizlan is more than a match for him.

I cried in this one. Always a sign of a good romance.

Annie’s new release His Majesty’s Temporary Bride is on my to-be-read pile. Can’t wait!

Sherlock Holmes and the Labyrinth of Death by James LovegroveSherlock Holmes and the Labyrinth of Death by James Lovegrove

Regular readers will know that I’m a big Sherlock Holmes fan and have read not only all the originals multiple times, but many of the new ones that are out. So far, my favouites have been Anthony Horowitz’s The House of Silk and Moriarty, but James Lovegrove’s story was an excellent addition to the range, with the riddles and twists you’d expect from a good Sherlock mystery.

It seems the publisher Titan Books has published a whole lot of Sherlock stories. I’ll have to check them out.

Friend Request by Laura MarshallFriend Request by Laura Marshall

Domestic thrillers are all the rage currently and I’m a sucker for them too. This one had a great premise – our protagonist Louise receives a Facebook friend request from old school friend Maria. So far, so normal. Happens to all of us. Except Maria is dead, or so everyone believes. But if Maria is alive…

What follows is a high-stakes drama as Louise desperately tries to keep her past secret, her family safe, and her friendships intact, and all while uncovering the mystery of how a dead girl could seemingly come back to life.

Might make you think twice about accepting that next friend request!

 

What were your favourite reads of August?

 

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