Category Archives: Favourite Reads

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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Favourite Reads of July 2017

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Welcome to the July instalment of My Favourite Reads.

Another excellent reading month with every book keeping me enthralled. I had a lovely Anna Campbell binge, catching up on her Dashing Widows series, and caved in to my young adult fantasy series obsession which made me very happy and wanting more. But there was also crime, horror and a terrific rural romance.

As to my favourite read… sooooo hard! Kylie Scott’s new release Trust was brilliant and I really enjoyed book 2 in Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands series, but I just LOVED…

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Ash and Quill by Rachel CaineBook 3 in the Great Library series.

I thought the first two books in this series were awesome (find my thoughts on those two here) but this one… wow. I devoured this story.

I love how Rachel manages to make everything go from bad to diabolical but still hooks me with a glimmer of hope that things might work out. That hope comes from the characters, who are compelling, clever, brave and, in the case of Jess, totally swoonworthy. It might be cradle-snatching on my behalf but I don’t care. He is my bookboyfriend. I love him.

This series makes me want to read everything Rachel Caine has written but if I did that I’d never have the time to catch up with my other bookloves, like…

 

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn HamiltonTraitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Ah, this series, I do adore it so. Magic and myth, vivid landscapes, monsters (both human and fantastical), trickery and warcraft, and a brave band of friends fighting for freedom.

There’s action a-plenty, along with a lovely dose of romance. But now I’ve succumbed and read book 2 instead of waiting like I’d planned, I must wait MONTHS until book 3 hits shelves. Gah!

If you’re interested in this young adult fantasy series, you’ll find what I said about book one, Rebel of the Sands, here.

Pursuing Lord Pascal by Anna CampbellPursuing Lord Pascal, Charming Sir Charles and Catching Captain Nash by Anna Campbell

Somehow I managed to get behind in my Anna Campbell reading (nothing to do with my YA fantasy obsession… much) but last month I made up for it by catching up on books 4-6 in her terrific Dashing Widows series.

Anna’s wonderfully romantic historicals always leave me feeling warm-hearted (and occasionally teary, but in a nice way) and it was great to catch up on how other characters from previous books are faring, too. Lovely reads and only 99 cents each.

Actually, if you’re quick, you can grab The Seduction of Lord Stone, Dashing Widows Book 1, for FREE at amazon.com, Kobo, iBooks and Barnes and Noble. Hurry though, limited time only.

The Horseman by Charlotte NashThe Horseman by Charlotte Nash

I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of this book at the Australian Romance Readers Convention back in February and I’m so pleased I did. This was a wonderful, wonderful story. Beautiful setting, great characters and a suspenseful and romantic plot that will keep you riveted.

As for the horseman of the title, Craig Monroe … oh yeah!

Highly recommended.

Webcam by Jack KilbornWebcam by Jack Kilborn (JA Konrath)

Another superfast-paced techno-thriller horror from Kilborn, featuring Tom Mankowski who I first encountered in The List (which I talked about in this My Favourite Reads) and Haunted House (more in this My Favourite Reads).

I think I’ve already mentioned how brilliantly bonkers these books are. Yeah, they may not be everyone’s idea of fun – they’re pretty gory – but they’re sure mine!

Trust by Kylie ScottTrust by Kylie Scott

My second favourite read of the month. I dare you start this young adult romance and not get hooked.

The opening is tense, frightening and had me whizzing through the pages, but it’s the aftermath and how the characters deal with it, along with the friendships and family relationships, that stays with me.

The heroine and voice of the story is Edie and I fell in love with her from the beginning. She’s smart, attractive and plagued with not only the usual teenage hangups, but by the trauma she experienced in the book’s opening. It’s how she handles that which makes her special.

Loved it.

Crimson Lake by Candice FoxCrimson Lake by Candice Fox

Regular readers will know how much I raved about Fox’s Hades series (find my thoughts on Fall here) so picking up Crimson Lake was a no-brainer.

Talk about an interesting hero. Detective Ted Conkaffey is accused of the rape of a young girl, spends months in prison on remand, but is ultimately never convicted. His career and marriage over, his existence in Sydney untenable, Ted escapes to the tropics and Crimson Lake where falls into working with private investigator, and equally damaged soul, Amanda Pharrell.

A claustrophobic setting, with excellent characters, plenty of intrigue and the kind of menace that I’ve come to expect from a Candice Fox book, and what looks like an ongoing mystery to be solved. Hopefully the start of a new series!

 

What were your favourite reads of July?

 

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Favourite Reads of June 2017

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Welcome to another edition of My Favourite Reads, a bit late this month thanks to Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy excitement.

My reads for June were the usual eclectic mix, ranging from crime to fantasy and horror to pure romance. After previous failures, I again tried to read books that had been languishing on my to-be-read list for a while, and it sort of worked. I managed to get through three until some lovely new releases caught my eye and had me hitting the ‘buy’ button.

What was my favourite? This one!

Origin by JA Konrath

Origin by JA KonrathAbsolutely nuts but HUGE fun. I adore books like this. They’re completely over the top in terms of plot but the pacing is so fast and the characters so cool, that I can’t put them down. Entertainment by the bucketload.

Okay, I admit Origin might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s horror. Well, horror combined with techno-thrills but it also came with lots of laughs and even a smidgen of romance.

A linguist is sent to a secret military compound buried under the desert where a hibernating demon that may or may not be Satan has been kept secure for years. Now, the demon has woken up and Andrew Dennison is coerced into acting as its translator. As with all good horror-thrillers, things soon go very, very wrong.

I enjoyed this so much that I immediately bought and read another Konrath book – see below.

 

Haunted House by Jack KilbornHaunted House by Jack Kilborn

Jack Kilborn is one of JA Konrath’s aliases. Some of you might recall that I read Konrath’s The List a few months ago. Well, Haunted House has some of the characters from that as well as one of the characters from Origin, so this was like playing with old friends.

Haunted House was as brilliantly bonkers as Origin and The List. Fast, funny, gory and weirdly hopeful. I’ll be reading more.

 

Last Breath by Robert BryndzaLast Breath by Robert Brydnza

I’m really enjoying this Detective Erica Foster series. I’ve read all of them so far and the characters and mystery never let me down. Last Breath proved no different and was another excellent crime novel from Bryndza, who is pretty much auto-buy for me now.

Am very curious to see how Erica fares in the next book. Is she softening a little? Can’t wait to find out!

 

Reckless by Amanda QuickReckless by Amanda Quick

Impulsive but clever Phoebe Layton is convinced Gabriel Banner is a latter-day Lancelot, and seeks his help to discover the killer of a man whose death she carries on her shoulders. But Phoebe has no idea that Gabriel plans to take revenge on her family for ruining him years before.

A gorgeous historical romance. I really need to read more Amanda Quick. Her books are lovely.

 

The Apothecary’s Poison by CJ ArcherThe Apothecary’s Poison by CJ Archer

The Glass and Steels series continues to get better and better. Loaded with intrigue, magic and romance, these are great comfort reads.

This one ended on a terrific hook that has me itching for the next. Fortunately, there’s not a long wait with The Magician’s Diary releasing in September. Yay!

 

Foxglove Summer by Ben AaronovitchFoxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

This was a nice return to form for Aaronovitch after Broken Homes, which I thought was okay but nowhere near as good as the previous books in the series.

Foxglove Summer was fun though, with Peter Grant being sent to the English countryside to investigate the disappearance of some children. Great characters in this one.

 

The Queen and the Cure by Amy HarmonThe Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon

This is the follow-on book to The Bird and the Sword which I adored (read what I thought of it here) and The Queen and the Cure didn’t disappoint. It was nice to see Kjell fall in love – I liked him so much in first book – but finding happiness was never going to be easy. Mind you, I never expected it to be this hard for him either. The poor man!

Wonderful read. I still have Harmon’s From Sand and Ash and A Different Blue on my to-be-read pile and probably should have read one of those, but I could resist re-entering the world of Jeru again. I hope there’ll be more of these. Harmon’s writing is beautiful and the romance, characters and world-building are outstanding.

 

What were your favourite reads of June?

 

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Favourite Reads of May 2017

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Welcome to another book-loving edition of My Favourite Reads. I had a bit of a slack reading month in May. Between finishing CHRISSY AND THE BURROUGHS BOY, completing second round edits on THE COUNTRY GIRL and touring visitors around the Blue Mountains and Sydney, I was a tad busy! But the books I did finish were fab and one of them was so big it surely counts as two anyway.

So, without further rambling, my favourite read of May was…

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends With Us by Colleen HooverI loved this book so much. It’s powerful, wonderfully written and will make you think very hard about domestic abuse. In fact, I’m still thinking about the dilemmas drawn in this story and my reactions at different points. As for the ending… the message from that will stick with me always. It’s that important.

This is one of those rare books where I wish I had it in paperback so I could easily flip back and forth through the pages and make notes as I try to work out what Hoover did to make the tension so strong. Not only the tension but my empathy for the characters. At times it made me so anxious that the moment I set the book down all I wanted was to snatch it back up again and make sure everyone was okay.

I’m afraid to talk too much about the plot or the characters in case I give anything away, but I will say that Lily is incredible. She strong, smart and kind and makes you cheer like crazy for her.

If you get the chance, read this. It’s special.

NOS4R2 by Joe HillNOS4R2 by Joe Hill

Joe Hill is one of my favourite authors and his novels are an auto-buy for me (Horns is one of my all-time favourite reads), so it’s kind of weird that I’ve had this copy of NOS4R2 sitting on my shelf for well over a year. But it was just so huuuuuuge. I bought it in paperback because the ebook was priced ridiculously, but at nearly 700 pages this thing is heavy and I knew trying to hold it in bed (my preferred reading space) would give me the irrits. I kept putting it aside, promising I’d read it on holidays or something, until last month when I went “stuff it”, and picked it up.

Hill is such a brilliant storyteller and writer that NOS4R2 was easily worth the hand contortions and getting smacked on the nose every time I lost my grip. This book is scary, funny, suspenseful, action-packed, and even sweet in spots, and the characters are brilliant. I loved Vic – what a heroine! – and Charlie Manx was a blast as the villain, along with Bing. And Lou was… well, I’ll let you find out.

A wonderful horror novel.

Dirty by Kylie ScottDirty by Kylie Scott

Ooh, this was a blast. Great premise with a runaway bride and a sexy musician, and a solid romantic conflict to keep me worrying that the hero Vaughan and heroine Lydia might not get the happily-ever-after they clearly deserve. But what stood out was the dialogue. This is snappy, clever stuff and hugely entertaining.

Lydia’s voice was brilliant. She’s sassy and smart and likeable, and I loved her from the get-go, while Vaughan is hot-hot-hot but also decent and kind.

I gobbled this down in no time and finished it with an enormous smile on my face.

I’m adding the next book Twist to my to-be-read pile.

The Rose Garden by Susanna KearsleyThe Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

With completion of The Rose Garden I’ve now read every Kearsley release. Rah! On the other hand, that means I’ll have to wait until she puts out another, which, from her website, looks to be called Bellewether. No news on when it’s coming but I hope it’s soon. I’m a total fangirl.

In case you’re wondering, The Rose Garden was lovely and romantic and a gorgeous read, but I never expected any less.

Invasion by Luke RhinehartInvasion by Luke Rhinehart

Earth is invaded by hairy beach balls, one of which happens to bounce onto self-confessed old geezer Billy Morton’s boat and follows him home. ‘Louie’ settles in fine, making friends with Billy’s family and generally being cute and fun. Until he starts using Billy’s computer to hack into the government.

I mostly enjoyed this book. It was funny and subversive and Billy was a wonderful character, but it did lose a bit of pace and the cliff-hanger ending was unexpected.

 

What were your favourite reads of May?

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Favourite Reads of April 2017

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Welcome to another rockin’ edition of My Favourite Reads!

I had great plans of once again digging deep into my to-be-read pile and getting through some of the books I’d forgotten were there, or have never been in the mood for. Unfortunately I only managed one because – surprise, surprise – I was once again distracted by a bright ‘n shiny young adult fantasy series. I can’t help it. They’re sooooo goooood!!

Anyway, onto my favourite read(s) which were…

Ink and Bone Fire by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone by Rachel CaineBooks 1 & 2 in The Great Library series.

Okay, I know I’ve gone a bit nutty over young adult fantasy novels at the moment but what a premise! A world where not only does The Great Library of Alexandria still exist but where it’s all-powerful? Oh yeah, I’m in on that one.

Throw in a band of young people who have themselves and their loyalties tested in their quest to join the library elite, a gorgeous, smart and brave hero (who I have a MASSIVE book boyfriend crush on), smugglers, fanatics, control-freaks, and a cast of older characters who may or may not be trust-worthy, and you have a hell of a ride.

Although not remotely Potteresque, I couldn’t help feeling that there was some kinship with the Harry Potter world. Maybe it was the whole band of friends thing, maybe it was the huge stakes at risk, I don’t know. What I do know is that I gutsed these down and am now feeling bereft that I must wait until July for book 3. Gah!

The Traitor's Girl by Christine WellsThe Traitor’s Girl by Christine Wells

Oh, it pains me not to have this as my favourite read of the month, and any other time it would have been, but I’m just too obsessed with YA fantasy at the moment. Sorry, Christine! This book was fantastic though. I loved it. The characters were wonderful, especially Carrie and Eve, and I thought the way the story unfolded through multiple viewpoints and across timelines was cleverly done. It really added to the suspense and intrigue. HIGHLY recommended and would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift.

PS. There’s a paperback giveaway of The Traitor’s Girl running on this week’s Teaser Tuesday but it’s closing veeeeery soon so click, swipe or tap here to enter before it’s too late.

Orkney Twilight by Clare CarsonOrkney Twilight by Clare Carson

This was a really interesting story about a young woman determined to discover her father’s secrets and, as an undercover policeman, he has plenty. I picked this up mostly because of the Orkney setting as it’s a place I’d love to visit but have yet to make it to. But I found myself more intrigued by the time in which this was set – in the eighties when Great Britain was suffering great political and social unrest. Think shadowy figures and intrigue, and a very strong writer’s voice.

Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane PorterChristmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter

For a short book this sure made me cry a lot. If you love a Christmas themed story with cowboys and snow and emotional conflicts that really tug at your heartstrings, then this will be right up your alley.

One to snuggle up to on a cold afternoon.

The Secret Life and Curious Death of Miss Jean Milne by Andrew NicollThe Secret Life and Curious Death of Miss Jean Milne by Andrew Nicoll

I adored Nicoll’s The Good Mayor which had some of the best portrayals of the complete and utter idiocy of love that I’ve ever read (I still remember the scene showing the lengths the mayor goes to just to peek at his love’s ankles). This is a definite departure from that quirky, sweet book but an excellent one. Set in early 1900s England, The Secret Life and Curious Death of Miss Jean Milne is a compelling murder-mystery on its own, but it’s also a fine insight into class division and human frailty. I really enjoyed it.

Come Quietly by Jessie LoganCome Quietly by Jessie Logan

In the mood for a scorching hot short tale with a sexy, rich hero and a libidinous librarian, and a few laughs thrown in? Then I suggest you zip on over to Amazon and snap up your 99 cent copy of this story right now. Fun in the stacks with the Dewey system.

 

What were your favourite reads of April?

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Favourite Reads of March 2017

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads! I can’t believe it’s April already. What happened to March? It just flew past but the whole year has felt like that so far.

I had a terrific reading month and discovered some wonderful new authors. I also finally finished all my competition reading. I had two books to read for the Romance Writers of Australia’s prestigious Ruby Award and one of them was absolutely brilliant. So brilliant that it was easily my favourite read for the month but, frustratingly, I can’t tell you about it!

Ah, well. These things happen. Anyway, my favourite read for the month that I can tell you about is…

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn HamiltonIt seems I’m completely addicted to young adult fantasy novels at the moment. They pull all my strings – smart, brave heroines, swoon-worthy heroes, lots of action and juicy romance plots that are electric with tension.

Rebel of the Sands had all this and more. I really liked the Djinn element of the fantasy and the magic, and the harsh desert setting was wonderfully described. The opening had an old western gunslinger feel to it that was huge fun, but then the book steered more middle-eastern.

This is a trilogy and book 2, Traitor to the Throne, is out but book 3 isn’t scheduled to release until 2018, so now I’m torn whether to gobble down book 2 straight away so I know what happens next with to Amani and Jin, and the other rebels, or wait until I can read the rest of the series in one go.

Decisions, decisions…

Blood Memory by Greg IlesBlood Memory by Greg Iles

I picked this up after a couple of ladies at my golf club raved about it and I can see why they did. This was my first Greg Iles book and it was a cracking read. Blood Memory is a long story but it never once felt like it was dragging. The plot was maze like, full of twists and surprises, and I thought the weaving of the heroine’s personal mystery and the serial killer plot, was skilfully done.

I’m going to read more of this author, starting with Natchez Burning.

The List by JA KonrathThe List by JA Konrath

This techno-thriller has been sitting on my Kindle since 2013. Oops. Why I hadn’t read it before now I have no idea. It would have stayed unread too if I hadn’t gone trawling through my ebook collection looking for something different to read while we were in Townsville last month.

Anyway, it was a hoot! The plot is completely bonkers – a group of people with tattoos on their feet start ending up dead and from there a mystery begins to unravel. I can’t tell you any more than that because it’d give the plot away but I can say that this was funny, action-packed, over-the-top and hugely entertaining.

Locked Box by Eve DangerfieldLocked Box by Eve Dangerfield

Another blast of a book with a great premise.  Computer whizz Julia is helping to sort out the evidence room at the police station where she works when she’s accidentally locked inside. Her saviour – hunky policeman Max – comes to the rescue, only for the door to close and lock again, trapping them together.

This was sizzling hot, emotional and and funny. Loved it.

If you’re quick you can pick this up right now off Amazon for free. No excuses not to read it!

Of Fate and Phantoms by CJ ArcherOf Fate and Phantoms by CJ Archer

When I finished From the Ashes, book 6 of the Ministry of Curiosities series, I told myself I wasn’t going to read any more because I felt the series had come to a natural end. I’d loved the journey but it was time to move on, and I still haven’t finished Archer’s Emily Chambers Spirit Medium series. Then Of Fate and Phantoms came out sounding so exciting and delicious and next thing my finger is hitting the buy button. I can’t help it. I just love Charlie and Lincoln and the gang.

Another great read from CJ Archer. Book 8, Veiled in Moonlight, releases in June. My naughty buy button finger is itching already.

Saint Odd by Dean KoontzDeeply Odd and Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

And so the Odd Thomas series comes to a close. I’m kinda sad because Odd was a wonderful character and I enjoyed his adventures a lot. The series was a bit hit and miss but overall I had a great time and the ending was as satisfying as I hoped it would be.

 

What were your favourite reads of March?

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Favourite Reads of February 2017

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Welcome again to My Favourite Reads. Considering I’ve been madly reading books for the Romance Writers of America Rita Awards (none of which I can tell you about, sorry!), I’m surprised that I still managed four personal reads. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t be because every one of them was un-put-downable and I’m hard-pressed to choose my favourite.

Seems like I say that every month but, seriously, these books were CRACKERS and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Of the four, I think my favourite – only by a whisker, mind – would have to be…

Beyond The Orchard by Anna Romer

Beyond the Orchard by Anna RomerThis is Anna’s 3rd book and while I adored Thornwood House and Lyrebird Hill (find my thoughts on the former here), Beyond the Orchard was on a whole other level.

The writing was beautiful and atmospheric, the characters real, the setting incredibly vivid but the story… oh my god, THIS STORY! It had me hooked from page one and didn’t let go.

Beyond the Orchard is a layered mystery set across different timelines. Actions from one era echo into following generations, but it’s our heroine Lucy who is determined to unravel the past. In doing so, she hopes to set herself free of the turmoil that has haunted her from childhood, and created a restlessness that drives her constantly to run.

Think mystery, romance, a big old guesthouse on the windswept Great Ocean Road (with the wonderfully creepy name of Bitterwood), and characters with dark secrets. If you’re a fan of Kate Morton or Susanna Kearsley you will love this one. It’s fantastic. Go buy it or borrow from your local library. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Extracted by RR HaywoodExtracted by RR Haywood

This was one of those Kindle First deals where, for a limited time, Amazon offers six editor’s picks in advance of release date for only $1-99 each. I’m not sure I would have discovered Extracted otherwise. I spotted it while trawling for something non-romance to give me a break from my RWA reads and it sounded a hoot, so I bought it and I’m glad I did. What a ride!

This was a funny, thrilling, violent, sweary and intriguing time-travel/sci-fi with characters that I pretty much fell in love with on introduction. Safa and Ben were awesome, but Mad Harry cracked me up completely. He was just too cool. They all were, really. I can’t wait to see what they get up to next.

A word of warning: this is book one in a trilogy and ends on a cliffhanger but the good news is that book 2, Executed, isn’t far away.  I’ll be snapping that baby up as soon as it’s released. Huge fun. Huuuuuuge!

 

Dark Water by Robert BryndzaDark Water by Robert Bryndza

If you pay any attention at all to the ebook best-seller charts on sites like Kobo and Amazon you wouldn’t have missed Robert Brydza’s previous titles The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker (you can read what I said about both here). They’ve been mega sellers for months now (The Girl in the Ice has sold over a million copies alone) and there’s a good reason for that – they’re completely compelling.

Dark Water is the third in this Detective Erika Foster series and doesn’t disappoint. I feel like I should have seen the twist coming but I didn’t, probably because I was too wrapped up in this fast-paced book to dwell too much on the clues. Hmm. That sounds a bit weird given this is a whodunit, but Bryndza’s books don’t give you much time to breathe, let alone think, and I’m more than happy to let myself be swept away in the story.

The next one, Last Breath, is out in April… better mark the date in my diary.

 

Making Faces by Amy HarmonMaking Faces by Amy Harmon

I cried in this. A lot. Like The Bird and the Sword, which I loved (and talk about here), it was gorgeous.

Making Faces is an incredibly touching small-town story about inner beauty, friendship and love, and I guess about war too. At times it had an almost Christian romance feel to it – which is not my thing at all – but it’s not classified as such, and the spiritual side didn’t bother me in the slightest. It felt right rather than preachy.

Ambrose, our hero, is the goods – beautiful, sporty, smart, and Fern has loved him forever. But boys like Ambrose don’t look at ugly duckling girls like Fern. Except Fern is as special as he is, perhaps even more so, and how Ambrose learns this will take your breath away.

The heartbreak and heroism in Making Faces will have you reaching for the tissues but never fear, this is a romance. A happily-ever-after ending is always there.

Next stop on my Amy Harmon reading journey is From Sand and Ash, already locked ‘n loaded on my e-reader and ready to go. Whoop!

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What were your favourite reads of February?

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Favourite Reads of January 2017

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Oh dear, after 2016’s bumper reading year (I read a record 88 books in 2016 – you can find them all listed on my Goodreads shelf), 2017 started with a bit of a whimper. Travelling kept me very busy, then later in the month my package of books to judge for the Romance Writers of America Rita awards arrived and I had to get stuck straight into those. Neither of those things left a lot of room for recreational reading.

I did manage to finish four wonderful books though. I’m not going to nominate a favourite because they were all very different and all enjoyable in their individual ways, and picking one over another is just too hard. Last year, because I finished so few books due to the clash with my Rita reading, I combined the January and February My Favourite Reads post, but a lot of people look forward to this series so this year I’ll stick to the monthly schedule.

Anyway, here are my reads!

The Desert King’s Secret Heir by Annie West

The Desert Kings Secret Heir by Annie WestThe uber alpha males of the Harlequin Presents category romance lines aren’t normally my thing (I tend to feel a strong urge to smack the arrogance out of them) but Annie West’s are a different breed. They’re still ridiculously rich and powerful men, and capable of the same ruthlessness I’ve seen in other Presents heroes, but when it comes to the women they love, they’re sensitive and kind, and you can’t help falling for them. I particularly liked how Arden, the heroine, grew into her strength throughout the story and became more than a match for Idris.

A sexy sheik, a secret baby, scandal and all the glamour of a desert palace. Wonderful, escapist fun.

The Mapmaker’s Apprentice by CJ Archer

The Mapmakers Apprentice by CJ ArcherRegular readers of My Favourite Reads will know what a CJ fangirl I am. I adored The Watchmaker’s Daughter, the first in this new Glass and Steele series, and have been hanging out for The Mapmaker’s Apprentice ever since, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

India, with her clever mind and courage is the perfect match for Matt, and I’m really enjoying the slow burn of their romance. I’m finding it as tantalising – perhaps even more so – than the romance between Charlie and Lincoln in the Ministry of Curiosities series, which is saying something because I was completely addicted to that. Still am, which is why I’ve just bought book #7, Of Fate and Phantoms.

Book three in the Glass and Steel series, The Apothecary’s Poison, will be out in April. Yeah, baby!

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte WoodWow. How to describe this book? Stunning is one word thanks to the incredible writing (so visceral!) which mesmerised me from the get-go. Fascinating is another because of its big themes, and the questions the book poses. And thanks to the ending (which I admit I found hugely frustrating) there are plenty of those.

The Natural Way of Things reminded me of The Lord of the Flies by William Golding (one of my all-time favourite books) in that it’s an isolation and survival of the fittest type story, but it’s also about misogyny, manipulation and brutality. And probably a load of other things I didn’t pick up on.

A group of women wake up in a compound and have their heads shaved before being forced into uncomfortable, debasing clothing. Chained together like slaves, their lives from then on are at the mercy of a pair of guards who see them as nothing more than a bunch of worthless sluts. As time passes, the women learn each has been involved in a sexual scandal – most of which I recognised from real events. Is this punishment for their supposed sins? When will it end?

Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris

Behind Closed Doors by BA ParisDomestic noir is all the rage at the moment and like everyone else, I’m a sucker for it, especially when an author takes an interesting path.

To everyone who knows them, Grace and Jack (a lawyer who specialises in defending abused women – oh the irony!) are perfect, ridiculously so. But what really goes on behind the shutters of that immaculate house after their faultlessly hosted dinner parties are over and the host and hostess are alone?

We learn fairly early on that nothing is as it seems, which you’d think would spoil the mystery but mystery isn’t what this book’s about. It’s more a thriller that focuses on Grace’s struggle for escape when every move she makes is countered. There are serious stakes in play, which makes Grace’s fight all the more desperate.

A 2016 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee in the Mystery & Thriller category.

 

What were your favourite reads of January?

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Favourite Reads of December

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My favourite reads of December list is notable for a few things: the interesting themes, the fatness of some of the books, and the lack of romance. The latter occurred because I’d saved a bunch of romances for the Christmas-New Year break only for it to prove much busier than I’d anticipated, leaving me with little reading time. Not to worry. I’ll just have to make up for it in January.

The choice of favourite for the month was a hard one, with two very strong contenders, but I’m going to bite the bullet and go for…

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël DickerThis is a monster-sized book, some 670 pages, which is partly the reason I’d never bothered with it before, despite recommendations. It was just too daunting and experience has taught that long books sometimes have a habit of getting bogged down.

Not this one.

From beginning to end, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair had me hooked. It’s basically a whodunnit, but with the main protagonist Marcus a writer and the titular Harry being a writing professor, it also features some commentary on the subject, which I enjoyed a lot. But that’s not why I loved the book. It’s LOADED with twists and turns and red herrings, and it seems everyone in small town Somerset, New Hampshire, harbours a secret. The moment you think you might have it figured out, you discover you’re wrong. Or are you?

The Red Hill by David PennyThe Red Hill by David Penny

A highly enjoyable historical murder-mystery set in 15th century Moorish Spain and starring English physician Thomas Berrington. A killer has infiltrated the Sultan’s palace and seems hell-bent on destroying the Sultan’s wives, and Thomas has been entrusted with finding him. In a world of intrigue where one false step could cost your head, danger lurks everywhere.

The first in what I suspect will prove to be a very interesting long-running series.

Before the Fall by Noah HawleyBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley

Another mystery-thriller and a beauty too. A private jet crashes into the sea and one man heroically swims the only other survivor—a four-year-old boy—miles to shore. But that’s just the beginning of the drama. As the crash investigation unfolds, questions are asked and conspiracy theories abound. How did a perfectly serviceable aircraft suffer such catastrophic failure, what secrets were those on board hiding, and why did a stranger board at the last minute?

This book takes quite a few stabs at modern society. There were characters whose narratives left me furious and others I felt enormous sympathy for, which I think was the point. I can’t say I love-loved Before the Fall, but it was compelling and I’m glad I read it.

Mount! by Jilly CooperMount! by Jilly Cooper

Another big fat bonkbuster from Cooper, featuring all-time favourite naughty boy Rupert Campbell-Black. Rupert is obsessed with winning the title of leading sire for his stallion Love Rat and beating that upstart Cosmo Rannaldini, but at what cost?

As you’d expect for a Cooper novel, there are shenanigans galore in Mount! Mischief and mystery abound as Rupert’s efforts are thwarted at every turn and staff fall in and out of each other’s beds. I’ve been a Cooper fan for years and I really, really wanted to enjoy this book but with Rupert behaving so horribly, Taggie being such a wet-blanket and others acting like prats, I found it hard to barrack for any of the characters (except for sweet Safety Car, a horse). I appreciate this is an aspect of the world Cooper has built throughout the series, but the rampant sexism and homophobia of the characters made the book feel outdated, while the cliched and insensitive portrayal of other cultures was particularly problematic.

The Bunting Quest by Steven MarcusonThe Bunting Quest by Steven Marcuson

I picked this up after reading a couple of positive reviews in the Saturday papers, intrigued by the premise and the claim that it was, to quote the Sydney Morning Herald, “written in the same vein as The Da Vinci Code, though it’s more deeply imagined, pacier, and better written.”

The premise is seriously cool—someone is stealing and killing to obtain copies of Heinrich Bunting’s 1581 map of the world, but why? Certainly, the map is mysteriously accurate in its depiction of Western Australia’s coastline, but other parts are nonsensical. What secret does the map hide and who is after it?

Entertaining, page-turning fun, with a bonus dose of cartography history. Better than The Da Vinci Code (which, by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed)? I’ll let you be the judge!

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffGemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

My second favourite read of the month, and beaten only by a whisker. I bloody LOVE this Illuminae Files science fiction series. It’s vividly imagined, fast-paced, the heroes are sexy and the heroines kick-arse brilliant, and the unique layout makes it refreshingly different to other books.

The first in the series, Illuminae, was so fantastic (you can read what I said about it here) I had my doubts that Gemina would top it but it’s easily as good. Like Illuminae, the storytelling is done via a series of files that log instant message chats, interviews, video transcripts, visuals and even encyclopaedia entries, which might sound weird but works perfectly and keeps things pacey. I also adore how everything keeps getting worse for the characters, challenging them at every turn, and making them fight for every victory.

Hurry up book three!

As a side note, I read both Illuminae and Gemina as ebooks but for maximum enjoyment I think the series needs to be read in print. Even at the largest font setting there were parts that were hard to make out, in particular the graphics with text swirling across.

 

What were your favourite books of December?

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Favourite Reads of November

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My Favourite Reads image

Another fantastic reading month with the highlights being a rather jaw-dropping but enjoyable young adult series, and an outstanding Australian novel from a new-to-me author.

So, by a fraction of a whisker, my favourite read of the month was…

The Royals Series by Erin Watt

Paper Princess, book one of The Royals Series by Erin WattWhich includes the books Paper Princess, Broken Prince and Twisted Palace.

This series was completely over the top bonkers and I loved every word.

Take one teenage stripper determined to drag herself out of the gutter, have her kidnapped/rescued by a man she’s never met yet who says he’s now her guardian, and plonked in a mansion with the dysfunctional, all-male family that is the uber wealthy Royals, and let the fun begin.

And brilliant fun it is too, with insanely spoiled (and twisted) rich kids, bitchiness, sex, murder, shenanigans, seriously hot bods and lashings of teenage angst. I read one book after the other in a matter of days.

An indulgence. But oh, so good.

Christmas Wishes, New Year Kisses by Michelle DouglasChristmas Wishes, New Year Kisses by Michelle Douglas

A lovely seasonal read, featuring two Australian veterinarian best friends who’ve known each other forever, and you know what that means? Sweet, funny animals. And an even sweeter friends-to-lovers romance. Oh, and there’s a beautiful tropical beach setting thrown in to add to the gorgeousness.

This one made me smile and sigh a lot, just as a good romance should.

Broken Homes by Ben AaronovitchBroken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Book four in this hugely popular supernatural series and another great romp with PC Peter Grant through Aaronovitch’s strangely inhabited London. I really enjoyed this but the ending? WOAH! It left me so startled and intrigued I nearly went on to read book five straight after, but in the end decided to ration myself.

The wit in this series is a hoot. As are the characters.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow RowellEleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Rowell’s Attachments moved me so much that it immediately became one of my all-time favourites reads, and while Eleanor and Park didn’t quite hit the same note – probably because it featured teenagers rather than adults, and the hero of Attachments was totally swoon-worthy – it was still a truly wonderful read. Two star-crossed outsider 16 year-olds fall in love despite all the odds against them, and the knowledge it probably won’t last. Wonderful.

I don’t know any other author who describes falling in love with the same exquisite detail and empathy as Rowell. Need more.

Fall by Candice FoxFall by Candice Fox

This crime series is so dark it borders on horror at times, which means I love it. I’m so disappointed that Fox says she has no more plans for Eden and Frank. They were fascinating characters and the plots of Eden, Hades and Fall all took turns that kept me guessing until the end. I really like the way this ended too. Twisted!

The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock SerongThe Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong

If it weren’t for the sheer jaw-dropping over-the-top fun of The Royals series this would have easily been my favourite read. Suspense? Crime? I’m not really sure, but what I do know is that the writing was incredible, as was the gripping plot. So clever!

The Rules of Backyard Cricket starts with our antagonist Darren Keefe having been shot in the knee, bound and dumped in the back of a car, presumably on his way to his execution. As he struggles with his predicament, Keefe takes us back through his notorious life and that of his even more famous cricketing star brother, Wally.

Amazing. Couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended, even if you’re not a cricket fan.

 

What were your favourite reads?

 

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