Tag Archives: Favourite Reads

My Favourite Reads of September 2019

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads for September 2019.

September was a month of fat books, with one over 800 pages, one at 500 and another at 450, I felt like I read seven books instead of five.

My favourite read of the month was beautiful, moving, and a wonderful, wonderful book. Stand by for some serious fangirling.

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

The Glittering Hour by Iona GreyI couldn’t rave enough about Grey’s debut novel Letters to the Lost (my thoughts on that here). I adored that book and wondered how Grey could possibly top it, but she has.

The Glittering Hour is stunning. STUNNING!

Gorgeously written, it’s an early 20th century historical that brings to life the intervening war years, with all its social and political upheaval. Selina Lennox, the heroine, is a “Bright young thing” – basically an “it” girl. But her life changes when she meets artist and photographer Lawrence Weston, a man not of her class. What follows is a breathtaking, emotional journey that left me sobbing and wrung out and wanting to go back to the start and do it all again.

A must-read. No, seriously, get reading The Glittering Hour now. NOW.

Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz ZafonLabyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is the final instalment in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series and ties together many of the mysteries of the first three novels.

At 800 pages it’s a monster, and I admit to having moments of wanting to put it down but I so adored the first two books in the series (The Shadow of the Wind was an incredible read as was The Angel’s Game) and the third book had so many loose ends that I had to see them tied up.

There are some deliciously creepy characters in Labyrinth of the Spirits and I love Ruiz Zafon’s gothic Barcelona. As with all his books, he really brings the city and era to life. It’s fascinating.

I look forward to seeing what he writes next. I hope it’s something like Marina (I talk about that here). That book is amazing.

The Ridealong by Michaelbrent CollingsThe Ridealong by Michaelbrent Collings

I am such a Michealbrent fan. His writing, storytelling and characters capture me every time. I keep wanting to pull apart his books to work out how he’s done things, but I’m always too caught up in the story to stop.

Like Terminal, my last Michaelbrent read (I rave about that here), The Ridealong was a cracking read. It’s a fast-past thriller featuring a teenage girl who goes for a ride-along with her cop dad. All pretty straightforward, except you know from the start that something is very wrong, and as the day progresses it just gets worse and worse.

So, so clever with its concluding twist. Highly recommended.

The Honourable Thief by Meaghan Wilson AnastasiosThe Honourable Thief by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios

Now, this was an interesting read. I thought The Honourable Thief was a stand-alone but it looks like it’s as series now, with another Benedict Hitchens story having just been released.

Another 20th century historical, The Honourable Thief follows the adventures of brilliant archaeologist Benedict Hitchens, a man once feted but who falls from grace in quite a spectacular way.

I enjoyed this a lot. It had some seriously cool moments, but I did find the hero difficult to like. I wonder if that’s me though, comparing Ben to Indiana Jones too much. Like Jones, Ben Hitchens is charming, sexy, brave and clever, and both have their flaws. Ben’s are a bit harder to forgive, though. For me, anyway. I’ve passed The Honourable Thief on to Jim to read and it’ll be interesting to hear his opinion.

Pilgrimage of Death by Sally SpencerPilgrimage of Death by Sally Spencer

I’ve been enjoying Spencer’s Inspector Blackstone series hugely (more on those here) so when Pilgrimage of Death came up on sale I snapped it up.

Pilgrimage of Death is narrated by Geoffrey Chaucer of The Canterbury Tales fame. I studied the tales in year 12 and loved it. Admittedly, it took some serious effort to get the hang of the language, but in the end, I found the Tales bawdy, funny, interesting and clever. Which is exactly how I found Pilgrimage of Death.

Chaucer calls this tale his “who-hath-done-it” and credits himself with creating a new genre. That’s what the book is – a historical whodunnit, featuring the pilgrims from The Canterbury Tales.

Great fun.

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What did you read in September that tickled your fancy?

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My Favourite Reads of August 2019

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads for August 2019.

Between the Romance Writers of Australia conference (check out my piccies here), a road trip to South Australia and Eddie and the Show Queen’s release, I didn’t have a lot of reading time in August.

What I did manage was good though, with my favourite being…

Terminal by Michaelbrent Collings

Terminal by Michaelbrent Collings coverRegular readers know how much I love a good horror story and Michaelbrent Collings produces beauties. I really enjoyed The Deep (my thoughts on that here) and Darkbound (my thoughts here) but Terminal was a ripper.

Fantastically gory, Terminal focuses on a group of strangers who find themselves suddenly (and suspiciously) fog-bound in a bus terminal. Their night goes from average to weird, to downright terrifying in quite innovative ways.

I loved the characterisations in this. They were vivid and compelling, and every single person was carrying a secret that could play a major role in their survival.

Clever, thrilling and icky. What’s not to love?

As an aside, Michaelbrent Collings has a TED talk called Confessions of a Supervillain: The Psychosis of Lies. I found it entertaining, heartfelt and uplifting. Worth a look.

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Matters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer coverMatters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer

If you love rural romance and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice then Matters of the Heart is is for you!

The Bennets are a hard-working Western Australian farming family. Daughter Lizzie, our heroine, runs the farm with enthusiasm and expertise. When Charles Bingley lands at Netherfield Park, the property next door, the district is abuzz. He and his friend Will Darcy certainly turn heads at the local dance but finding Will particularly unfriendly, Lizzie remains unimpressed.

How these two find their way to happiness is cleverly done. Fiona has reimagined Austen’s plot for a contemporary audience, flavouring it with her own voice and freshening it further with lots of the authentic rural life that her fans love.

Watch this sell its socks off!

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox coverThe Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

This was an enjoyable American-set historical novel with a nice Gothic atmosphere.

Hammered by scandal, the Montrose family flee their comfortable lives in Boston for their summer mansion. Despite its amenities, Willow hall is a far from happy place. It has secrets, as do the three Montrose girls, Catherine, Lydia and little Emmeline. As time passes, those secrets begin to emerge, threatening them all.

Besides the interesting story and lovely writing, The Witch of Willow Hall also featured a sweet romantic thread for extra goodness.

The Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey coverThe Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey

I have author buddy and regular Teaser Tuesday guest Anna Campbell to thank for putting me on to this one, and I’m glad she did because it was an easy, fun book perfect for reading while on the road.

The Gilded Shroud is the first in the Regency-era Lady Fan Mystery series and it’s an entertaining introduction. Ottilia Draycott has just started as companion to Dowager Lady Polbrook when the mistress of the house is found murdered. A strong woman, with excellent observation skills, Ottilia soon makes herself invaluable in the investigation, endearing herself to the family and the rather delicious Lord Francis Fanshawe.

One for cosy mystery fans!

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My Favourite Reads of July 2019

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Welcome to my favourite reads for July 2019.

Not many books this month, mainly because I was busy with the Fictionally Yours, Melbourne booksigning event (check out my post on that here) but also because a couple of the books I read were big fat ones. And big fat ones take time!

Choosing a favourite was very hard – they were all excellent – but the gong goes to

The Wych Elm by Tana French

The Wych Elm by Tana FrenchHooly-dooly, what a read!

The Wych Elm was long – 500+ pages – and rather slow to begin with. There were more than a few moments when I wondered if it was going to be worth it, but it absolutely was. The story is still with me. I can’t seem to shake that climax. It shocked me completely.

The Wych Elm is a thriller/mystery that twists and turns and completely mesmerises. Which is interesting because there aren’t that many likeable characters, really. Even Toby, our narrator, is a bit of a twat. Likeable because he’s good-looking, charming and easy-going but otherwise pretty shallow. Life just seems to fall into place for him. Until it doesn’t.

A slow burn, but one I found worthwhile in the end.

Miss Prims Greek Island Fling by Michelle DouglasMiss Prim’s Greek Island Fling by Michelle Douglas

Oh, this was lovely! Hard to go past Greek island fling at the best of times but this was made extra special by the gorgeous characters.

Audra – the Miss Prim of the title – has suffered a terrible betrayal and retreated to her brother’s home on a Greek Island only to find her brother’s reckless best friend in situ. Much fun ensues as these two lovelies do their best to not act on their sizzling attraction.

Friends-to-lovers awesomeness. Read it.

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildRelic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I’ve wanted to read one of these Lincoln and Child novels for aaaages. They sound smack in my happy reading zone. Then Relic, book one in the Special Agent Pendergast series, came on sale and I snapped it straight up.

What a blast! This galloped along, with loads of thrills, some cool science, adventuring, good guys and bad guys, and a monster running riot in a revered institution. Great fun, great characters and as for Special Agent Pendergast, he was wonderful. Nice twist at the end too. I’m going to have to read more.

The Chain by Adrian McKintyThe Chain by Adrian McKinty

A veeeery close contender for favourite read of the month.

The Chain is generating lots of buzz in the book world at the moment and with good reason – it’s a cracker of a read. What a premise! And the opening… woah. It’s going to be an awesome movie when they make it.

I love books that make me anxious, even though they’re only fiction. It takes a skilled writer to create a physical reaction in a reader and McKinty managed that aplenty with me. I really liked the characters too, they were tough cookies and admirable despite their flaws.

A thrill ride that might make you rethink your social media activities.

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What wonderful books have you read lately?

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My Favourite Reads of June 2019

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Welcome to my favourite reads for June 2019. The past month turned out to a month for series reads. There was only one stand-alone book, and that stand-alone book turned out to be my favourite, although it was a close-run thing.

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

Wakenhyrst by Michelle PaverMy favourite of the month.

I’ve been a Michelle Paver fan for a very long time now. Her novel A Place in the Hills is a cherished (albeit rather tattered) book that will never leave my keeper shelf. I’m also pretty sure Paver is the author who introduced me to romance. Until her, I’d only really read chick-lit, then I read A Place in the Hills followed by Without Charity and loved them, but it was the historical “Daughters of Eden” trilogy that truly opened my eyes. Or maybe I should say opened my heart because it had all the feels. Whatever the case, it made me want more.

Paver’s more recent books make me feel too, but in a different way. These stories are Gothic and ghostly and creepy. And if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know how much I adore a good creeping out.

In true Gothic style, Wakenhyrst features a crumbling manor house. Wake’s End is in Devon, near the village of Wakenhyrst and surrounded by the Fens, which add to the atmosphere of isolation and seclusion. There are legends, secrets and madness, Superstition clashes with religion, as does ancient healing with new medicine. Then there’s Maud, a great lead character who’s clever and strong, yet also lonely and secretive, and around whom the story winds.

Wonderful storytelling, vivid characters and spine-tingles galore. Loved.

Defy the Fates by Claudia GrayDefy the Fates by Claudia Gray

This is the final instalment in the Constellation trilogy and a very close second favourite read for the month. I’ve adored this series (my comments on book one, Defy the Stars here and book two, Defy the Worlds here) and never thought I could come to care so much about an android, or “mech” as they’re called in the books. Aiden, though, is very easy to fall in love with. Deep sigh.

Defy the Fates was loaded with surprise twists and many times I worried that Noemi and Aiden were never going to make it. The way their romance was resolved was very satisfying and I feel like I should have seen that coming from the start, but I didn’t.

Loved this book and the series. I can’t wait for more from Gray.

Blackstone and the Burning Secret by Sally SpencerBlackstone and the Burning Secret by Sally Spencer

This is the fourth book in Spencer’s Inspector Blackstone series and it certainly won’t be the last for me. As I’ve mentioned before (my comments on the first three books here), I really enjoy the late Victorian setting. It was period of great change and Blackstone’s investigations tend to have their genesis in the social, political and industrial upheavals of the time.

The books aren’t terribly long but they’re compelling and interesting, and I find them excellent for ‘snacking on’ between fatter books. Next up, Blackstone and the Stage of Death. Rah!

The Cheater's Game by CJ ArcherThe Cheater’s Game by CJ Archer

I can’t believe I’m up to book seven of the Glass and Steele series, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been hooked on Archer’s stories since reading The Last Necromancer (book one in the Ministry of Curiosities series and currently free across ebook platforms), and her new After the Rift series has me totally intrigued.

But back to India Steele and Matt Glass and The Cheater’s Game! Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show has arrived in London and Willie, my favourite character in Matt’s crew, can’t stop from hanging with the performers. Naturally, trouble follows. With plenty of danger, mystery, and a secret that could harm Matt and India’s relationship, this was a lot of fun.

Chocolate and Old Lace by Kaz DelaneyChocolate and Old Lace by Kaz Delaney

Kaz Delaney, also known as Kerri Lane, is a prolific writer of children’s and young adult books. She is also a delightful person who’s appeared on this blog’s (now archived) Friday Feast. Kaz has turned to adult fiction and was kind enough to give me a copy of her new cozy mystery series. I’m so glad she did. It was lovely fun!

Chocolate and Old Lace introduces us to the Rosie Hart series – tag line: Murder has never been so delicious. Don’t you just love that? So cool. Anyway, Rosie loves to cook and her skills in the kitchen endear her to the small Texan town she’s moved to, and one sexy cowboy in particular. Oh, and me. Got to love a heroine who cooks.

Quirky characters, lovely baking, murder and mayhem, and there are even recipes at the back of the book. Hugely enjoyable. Next in the series is Preserving the Evidence. loving these titles.

By the way, if you sign up for Kaz’s mailing list you score the Rosie Hart novella, The Funeral Crasher, for free. Enjoy!

What have you been reading lately?

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My Favourite Reads of May 2019

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads for May 2019. May proved to be a good reading month, with seven books read and plenty of enjoyment had.

Here they are.

I Ate the Sheriff by James Scott BellI Ate the Sheriff by James Scott Bell

This series was a hoot. Not to everyone’s taste I admit, but I thought it was cool. I Ate the Sheriff follows on from Pay Me in Flesh (which I talk about here) and The Year of Eating Dangerously (I talk about this one here), and concludes Mallory Caine, Zombie At Law’s story. It went out with suitable apocalyptic mayhem.

If you like fast-paced, action-packed wittily written stories with funny dialogue, and don’t mind a bit of ickiness, then this series might float your boat. It did mine!

Fair Game by Amy AndrewsFair Game by Amy Andrews

This is book 3 in the Women of W.A.R. series, a continuity that features an Australian Women’s Australian Rules Football team. Such an excellent idea.

And this is a fab book, but that’s no surprise. Amy Andrews writes fantastic romances. Fair Game is a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Rita awards with good reason. It has lovely characters (the hero is a total babe), a great friends-to-lovers premise, and is a joy to read.

Grab a copy.

The Hunting Party by Lucy FoleyThe Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Even though I pegged the killer early on, I enjoyed The Hunting Party a lot. Loved the isolated Highlands setting, which added much to the atmosphere and tension, and I loved all the characters. I especially liked how we got to live in each of their heads and experience their inner selves, which was often veeeeery different to their outer selves.

Good fun. Well, for me. Not so much for the characters!

The Crucifix Killer by Chris CarterThe Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter

I’ve been meaning to read this a few years now. I read a brief review in a newspaper aaaaages ago and it sounded up my alley. I bought it and then promptly forgot I had (a sign that maybe I buy too many books? … Nah!). Then last month I noticed The Crucifix Killer heavily discounted in one of the ebook stores and I thought, oooh, I’ll have that, only to discover it was already in my library.

Anyway, The Crucifix Killer is book one in Carter’s Robert Hunter crime/thriller series. Expect lots of plot, plenty of action and some clever, if rather horrible, deviousness by the murderer.

They Call Me the Cat Lady by Amy MillerThey Call Me the Cat Lady by Amy Miller

We are NOT cat people in the Hein house. So why did I pick up They Call Me the Cat Lady, clearly a book involving cats? Because the premise sounded intriguing, sort of along the lines of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and a few others where the hero/heroine is an outcast, and because the reviews were so good.

Nancy Jones is indeed a cat lady. She’s also lonely, secretive, reclusive and big-hearted once you know her. She’d love to keep the secretive and reclusive part of her life but when a person from her past enters it, she’s forced to change. A sweet book about second chances.

Girl in the Bedouin Tent by Annie WestGirl in the Bedouin Tent by Annie West

Annie sure knows how to write a sheikh romance! Girl in the Bedouin Tent is one of her older books (from 2011, I think) but it’s a beauty. I read it because it’s a forced proximity romance and I have plans to write one of those myself, and it’s always handy to study what an expert author can do with a trope.

Prince Amir was gorgeous, super masculine and kind, Cassie was feisty, clever and fun, and the sexual attraction sizzling. A wonderful, passionate read.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa AlbertThe Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I’ve had my eye on The Hazel Wood since its release and when it went on sale I snapped it up. The premise is very intriguing. Alice’s grandmother is the famous, reclusive author of a book of (nasty) fairy tales, all set in the fantasy world of Hinterland. When Alice’s mother is stolen away by someone from the Hinterland, Alice must enter that world to save her.

Yep, The Hazel Wood is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, complete with bonkers creatures and dark happenings. Definitely not for kids!

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What have you read lately that you’ve loved?

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My Favourite Reads of April 2019

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads for April 2019. Coming a tad late to you this month. Sorry! My excuse is that I’m desperately trying to finish edits for Eddie and the Show Queen and that’s meant blogging must play second fiddle.

I’m fence-sitting and bowing out from choosing a favourite this month. With such a diverse range of stories it’s hard to single one out and even harder when I enjoyed them all.

So here they are…

Blackstone and the Rendezvous with Death, Blackstone and the Great Game, Blackstone and the House of Secrets by Sally Spencer

Blackstone and the Rendezvous with Death by Sally SpencerOoh, I like this series, as you can probably tell from my 3-book mini-binge. I’m a sucker for Victorian-era set books, especially crime and mystery, and the Blackstone stories are a pleasure to read and well done. Late-Victorian and a bit different from the gaslight gloominess of earlier period stories, they still contain plenty of atmosphere and quite a large dollop of social commentary.

Blackstone is an intriguing character. A war veteran who’s been clearly changed by his experiences, Blackstone can be borderline disrespectful to his ‘superiors’ but is tolerated because he’s so good at his job.

Interesting mysteries set in even more interesting times. I’ll be reading more.

PS. If you want to give the series a try, Book 1, Blackstone and the Rendezvous with Death, is currently only 99c on Amazon.

The Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

The Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerThe Undying is the concluding story of the Unearthed Duology. I really enjoyed the first book, Unearthed (which I talk about here), and have been hanging out for this one. It didn’t let me down.

Lots of action, a lovely splash of romance, and plenty of tension as Mia and Jules try to save the world from alien invasion. Honestly, after reading the Starbound Trilogy (find my thoughts on that here) and this duology, I think I’d read anything by Kaufman and Spooner.

The Year of Eating Dangerously by James Scott Bell

The Year of Eating Dangerously by James Scott BellBook two of the Mallory Caine series, this is total gross-me-out zombie fun with a cleverly bonkers plot and great characters. Mallory is a brilliant heroine. She’s a lawyer who’s also a human brain-craving zombie, which you’d think would make her completely unlikeable but she’s a hoot – courageous and possessing a fantastically  snarky voice.

The first book, Pay Me In Flesh (I chat about that here), was witty and smart and The Year of Eating Dangerously proved no different. Loads of action and rising stakes. I’ve already bought the final book, I Ate The Sheriff, and will be hopping in veeery soon.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia OwensWhere the Crawdads Sing went on my radar after a book blogger whose reviews I respect raved about it and awarded it a rare 10/10 score. On reading the blurb it sounded like something I’d enjoy. And enjoy I did.

It’s no wonder this book has so much buzz; it’s beautifully written and atmospheric. You can really feel the harsh beauty of the marsh, the terrible disadvantage of Kya’s life, and the appalling discrimination of the times. I did find the beginning a bit slow but that didn’t mean I wanted to put the book down. The story, characters and setting were too intriguing for that.

Think coming of age story crossed with a murder mystery.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River by Diane SetterfieldI adored Setterfield’s debut, The Thirteenth Tale, when it came out, which was over ten years ago now. It was a gorgeously written gothic story about an abandoned house, a pair of mysterious sisters and storytelling. The latter also features strongly in Once Upon a River. As a writer, this subject always makes my ears prick.

One winter’s night, a young girl is carried into the Swan Inn (a ‘storytelling’ inn), her saviour almost immediately collapsing from his efforts and injuries. The girl is dead… then she isn’t. Who is the girl? How can she be dead then alive?

Sometimes uplifting, sometimes creepy (I am not good with water and water is a dominant theme in this), sometimes sad, Once Upon a River was a lovely read.

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What have you read lately that you’ve loved?

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My Favourite Reads of March 2019

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads for March 2019!

I had an excellent reading month, fitting in more books than normal. Probably because they were all so good. There are even a couple of non-fiction reads this month. Very unusual for me.

But my favourite read has to be…

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man by Jane HarperYep, it lived up to the hype. Bigtime.

As with The Dry (which I talked about here), the setting for The Lost Man was wonderfully drawn. You could feel the isolation and danger of the land. It added an extra dimension to what is already a tension filled story.

Lots of twists, fascinating family situation, the rules of survival in a harsh country, and a truly intriguing mystery. I’ve been reading quite a few Australian thrillers/crime novels recently and this is one of the best.

Highly recommended.

The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart TurtonThe 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I’ve been wanting to read this award-winning murder mystery since release but it was ridiculously priced in ebook (my reading preference) and I let it slide. Then it appeared on sale and there was much yippee-ing and one-clicking.

Be warned, The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a complicated story (think Groundhog Day) and it took me a while to get my head around how it worked, but it was worth it in the end. Great characters. I enjoyed it a lot.

Hangman by Jack HeathHangman by Jack Heath

Regular readers will know how partial I am to juicy horror and gory crime, and Hangman looked smack in my zone. It certainly has elements of both horror and gory crime but… yikes! Sometimes this was even too much for me.

Fab read though. Great pacing and tantalising mystery and, despite his… um… interesting predilection, I couldn’t help admiring our icky hero.

Hangman is NOT for the fainthearted though. You have been warned.

The Woman Who Fooled the World by Nick Toscano and Beau DonellyThe Woman Who Fooled the World: Belle Gibson’s Cancer Con by Nick Toscano and Beau Donelly

Gawd, this book made me angry. Not because it was bad – it was fascinating, well-researched and well-written – and not all because of Gibson’s con. It was infuriating because of the people who enabled this farce and never questioned her story. Why the hell not? Blind Freddie could see her claims were bullshit.

Oops. I’m getting ranty-ragey so I’ll shut up now.

Then again…

For crying out loud, what the hell happened to our belief in science? Since when did someone with an aptitude for posting pretty, aspirational pictures on social media become more trustworthy than those with education, expertise and experience? Are we seriously that bloody shallow?

Grrrrrrr.

Maybe this is why I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. It triggers too many rages.

Good book though.

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris

I loved this. A very close second for my favourite read of the month.

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder has an autistic boy as the narrator and it’s hard not to want to compare the book to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. There are similarities I think, but I read Haddon’s book so long ago it wouldn’t be fair to compare. All I know is that I loved both stories.

Very highly recommended.

Damn Fine Story by Chuck WendigDamn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig

One for the writers out there.

Like many authors, I have a decent library of writing craft books. Some are stuck at the back of the shelves, others are always within reach. Damn Fine Story will be an in-reach one.

This isn’t strictly a March read. I read it over a long period – months – but that’s not unusual for me with craft books. I find I miss too much of the good stuff if I try to gobble them down all at once. Either that, or I get information overload, develop terrible hang-ups or suffer plain old boredom. Much better to read them bit by bit.

My copy of Damn Fine Story looks a bit messy now that I’ve finished. It’s covered with sticky tags and pen marks where I’ve circled and ticked things, which is a good sign that I found it useful, with advice and tools I want to return to. The chapter on the building blocks of tension was particularly handy.

It also helps that Damn Fine Story is a fun read. Not something that can be said for a lot of craft books.

I found it very good. As with all how-to books, your mileage may vary.

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What were your favourite reads of March?

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My Favourite Reads of February 2019

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads for February 2019!

February was mostly taken up reading books for the Romance Writers of America Rita Award but I still managed to squeeze in four off my to-be-read pile, and they were all beauties.

My favourite though was… 

Wicked Games by MJ Scott

Wicked Games by MJ ScottWicked Games is the first in MJ Scott’s new TechWitch series and I’m hanging out for the next. This had so much to love – big conflicts, romance, friendship, action and I really enjoyed the mix of high technology and magic. Maybe this isn’t unusual in the urban fantasy genre but for me the combination felt new and fresh.

Loved the characters, the setting was interesting, and I liked the spookiness and how dark the story got. I look forward to discovering where Maggie goes to next and how her relationship with magic and sexy Damon evolves.

Fab.

The Second Cure by Margaret MorganThe Second Cure by Margaret Morgan

Ooh, where do I start with The Second Cure? This has politics, science, religion and much more. Most of all it’s scary because it is so easy to imagine a scenario like this unfolding.

Great premise, good writing and likeable characters – even the baddies had their moments – made for a fascinating, page-turning journey.

Clever. Really clever. A book to make you think, and maybe fret a bit. Check it out.

Her Forgotten Lover's Heir by Annie WestHer Forgotten Lover’s Heir by Annie West

Annie never lets me down with her fabulous romances. Her Forgotten Lover’s Heir made me cry too. I adore books that do that. It’s why we read romance – to feel!

The amnesia trope is one I’ve always been a bit sceptical about, but Molly’s situation is very believable and I felt for her enormously as she tried to deal with her memory loss and find her way forward. Pietro was great too – a nice combination of sexy alpha hero, as you’d expect for a Harlequin Presents title, and deeply caring man who’s fallen in love without realising.

A lovely story with great chemistry between the hero and heroine.

Butterface by Avery FlynnButterface by Avery Flynn

Butterface is book one in Avery Flynn’s the Hartigans series and such a fun a story I gobbled it down.

Although scarred by school bullying, Gina is a strong character who’s accepted her not-so-pretty looks and is merrily living the life she wants. She’s smart and funny and has a bod to die for. I wish I could stretch like her! Ford is a gorgeous, if totally anal, cop. When these two a thrown together, first via a wedding “kiss-cam” then by other circumstances it’s kind of like beauty and the beast in reverse.

Great dialogue and a wonderful romance, and the families were a hoot!

What did you enjoy reading in February?

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My Favourite Reads of January 2019

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Welcome to the first My Favourite Reads for 2019!

I read some fabulous books in January. Only four for myself as late in the month my allocation of Romance Writers of America Rita Award books arrived, and I wanted to get started on them straight away.

No question as to what my favourite read was, and it’s…

December Park by Ronald Malfi

December Park by Robert Malfi

I read The Night Parade back in October 2017 (read my thoughts on that here) and meant to read December Park soon after, but like so many of my best laid book-plans that didn’t happen and it ended up taking me over a year to get there.

Usual thing – too many books, not enough reading time.

December Park was excellent. I love the way Malfi writes, he has a style that draws me deep into a story and unable to stop turning those pages. This is a long book – 700+ pages in paperback I believe – yet it flowed beautifully and never felt too long. Having a bunch of engaging and funny teenage boys enjoying summer adventures in a sleepy outer suburb the early 90s helps. He captures those hazy days and the emotions and dramas of adolescence perfectly. Except Harting Farms isn’t really a sleepy suburb and the days certainly aren’t all hazy. Children are going missing and when one turns up dead, the boys put themselves into the thick of the danger.

I’ve already bought Bone White, Malfi’s latest release, and I won’t be waiting a year before I read it either. The blurb sounds fab and Malfi is awesome.

Pay Me in Flesh by James Scott Bell

Pay Me in Flesh by James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is a well-known name in the writing world thanks to his workshops and books on writing. I own a few of his craft titles and find them both enlightening and entertaining, but it wasn’t until I read How to Write Pulp Fiction that I became interested in reading his fiction. In it, Bell uses a short story to demonstrate what he means by pulp fiction and it was so clever I wanted more.

Pay Me in Flesh is book one of a series with a fantastic premise: Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law, defends the creatures no other lawyer will touch… and longs to reclaim her real life. Yep, a zombie lawyer with, er, appetites.

It sounds bonkers and is, and I loved it. Fast, hugely entertaining, great characters and, yeah, he knows how to write pulp fiction. I had a ball with it. A word of warning: Pay Me in Flesh does have a few gross-out moments that made even me go ewwwww, but it’s a zombie story, some grossness is a given!

The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson

The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson

I adored Anthea’s debit novel The Drifter (which I raved about here) and have had The Cowgirl in my sights since. It was a gorgeous read with beautiful writing, an emotional storyline, a subtle but enjoyable romance and a strong message about moving on and living life.

I liked the dual timeline and how Deirdre’s backstory unfolded as we came to understand her more in the present, and I really like the metaphor of Barnaby the cockatoo. That was clever.

A great New Year read and a must for lovers of rural romance.

Breaking Good by Madeline Ash

Breaking Good by Madeline Ash

I’ve wanted to read Breaking Good since 2017, when it was a finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America Rita Award then went on to win a Romance Writers of Australia Ruby Award for best short romance. The idea of a hero with ADHD is an intriguing one and I was curious as to how that would work for a romance. Perfectly in the hands of Ash, as it turns out.

Breaking Good is a gorgeously written story that will reach deep into your heart and tug hard on your emotions. The characters are fabulous and it’s hard to resist a Byron Bay setting.

What were your favourite reads of January?

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My Favourite Reads of December 2018

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The Palace of Lost Memories and The Echo of Broken Dreams by CJ Archer

The Palace of Lost Memories by CJ Archer

I’ve been looking forward to CJ Archer’s new After the Rift series ever since she announced it and to my delight it exceeded expectations. I expected The Palace of Lost Memories to be good but this was in another class again. I think because it’s a bit darker. This is a world where even those you trust may not be who they seem.

There are so many questions about the King’s new palace and even more questions about those who staff it. Where did they come from? And where are their memories? These are puzzles that I’m sure will be slowly solved as the series progresses. In the meantime, we’re treated to smaller mysteries that are just as enjoyable. In The Palace of Lost Memories, it’s who poisoned the king’s favourite, while in The Echo of Broken Dreams it’s who is attacking palace maids, among other questions.

Love the heroine Josie, love the hero Hammer, and the minor characters are interesting and well crafted. As with all CJ Archer books the pacing was spot on.

I gobbled these down and now cannot wait for book 3.

A Baby In His In-Tray by Michelle Douglas

A Baby In His In-Tray by Michelle Douglas

This was hilarious, and I defy anyone not to at least smile at the early scenes with the baby. The poor heroine. The poor hero!

The premise of A Baby In His In-Tray is a beauty too. To help her twin sister Eliza, Liv agrees to impersonate her at work while Eliza sorts out a personal issue (I hope Michelle writes her story). With the boss Lord Sebastian Tyrell away, no one should be the wiser. Then Liv returns to her desk post-lunch and finds a baby on it with a note requesting that Sebastian sort it out. Liv has no choice but to call him and act as nanny while he returns. This does not make for a happy Liv!

The relationship between these two is wonderful, but as you’d expect from an excellent romance it’s not without its complications. For her sister’s sake, Liv must keep her true identity hidden, while Sebastian has his own issues thanks to an awful upbringing. Then there’s the question of who the baby’s mother is…

Huge fun.

The Million Pound Marriage Deal by Michelle Douglas

The Million Pound Marriage Deal by Michelle Douglas

The Million Pound Marriage Deal made me cry more than once, then smile at the end and feel a bit soppy, which is exactly what I want from a romance.

I really liked Sophie, she was a great heroine. That perfect combination of sass, smarts and vulnerability that she keeps well hidden. She’s the sort of capable, organised person you’d want on your side in a crisis, and I loved the way she handled the hero Will’s crotchety grandfather.

If you’re partial to a marriage of convenience story, you’ll love this one. I certainly did.

The Laird’s Christmas Kiss by Anna Campbell

The Laird’s Christmas Kiss by Anna Campbell

Ah, I do love me an Anna Campbell Christmas story. They are so much fun.

Elspeth is a smart as a whip wallflower who’s harboured a secret crush on rakish Brody for years. Deciding she’s had enough of this nonsense, Elspeth forces herself out of this hopeless and silly love, only for Brody to suddenly notice her in a major way. What follows is a gorgeous struggle between a young woman determined to keep her promise to herself and a man who, for once in his life, has only honourable intentions and can’t understand why the object of his affections won’t swoon at his feet. Then the family get involved…

An absolute delight and perfect for any season. And highlanders!

Read an excerpt from The Laird’s Christmas Kiss and more on Anna’s recent Teaser Tuesday.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

My second favourite read of December (or should that be third given CJ Archer took the top spot with two books?).

I’ve wanted to read Apple Tree Yard since its release back in 2013. In fact, I still have clippings of its newspaper reviews on my “want to read” pile so I wouldn’t forget about it. Which reminds me, I can chuck those now.

I adore books that make you feel anxious for the heroine (or hero) and Apple Tree Yard kept me in a state of constant worry. This is a combination of courtroom drama and the secret retelling of an affair. For some reason it reminded me a lot of Killing Me Softly by Nicci French even though they’re quite different stories. It’s that opening blast of attraction between strangers followed by out-of-character behaviour I suspect. That and the unsettling storylines.

Highly recommended and I hear the recently released TV series is excellent too.

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder

This came highly recommended by writing buddy Amy Andrews, who praised Snyder’s great voice and fresh story. I was a tad sceptical – bad boy bikers really aren’t my thing – but having read Tikka Chance on Me I can only agree. This was a whole lot of sexy fun, with a fantastic heroine and great banter. It’s also short and whizzes along. Perfect for an afternoon of fun. And you can pick it up for around a dollar on most ebook platforms.

What were your favourite reads of December?

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