My Favourite Reads image

My Favourite Reads image

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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