My Favourite Reads banner 2020

Welcome to the book-lovin’ marvel that is My Favourite Reads.

Another bumper month of reading. I had a little hiccup in the middle when I started a bunch of books only to discover I wasn’t in the mood for any of them. Then Kylie Scott (who is an awesome Aussie author) set me back on track and I was powering along again.

It was so hard to choose a favourite that I nearly piked out. There were so many good reads. In the end I decided on the one that made me cry. Quite a lot. But in a good way, of course!

That book was…

I Am Dust by Louise Beech

I Am Dust by Louise BeechI guess at its heart, I Am Dust is a murder mystery, but it was so much more than that. It’s also a love story and a ghost story and maybe you could also call it a psychological thriller. Whatever you label it, I Am Dust is a book that grabs your heart and squeezes it tight.

Chloe was such a lovely character – flawed, scarred but kind and nice. I couldn’t help but wish her well. I also adored Chester, who provided plenty of humorous moments and helped make Chloe shine. The other characters were excellently drawn too. I’d love to explain them more, but I don’t want to give any of the plot away or spoil the book in any form.

Beautiful, magical, poignant. I bawled at the end.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and guess what? She has a lovely big backlist to explore. Rah!

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Stranger Still by Michaelbrent CollingsStranger Still by Michaelbrent Collings

I’m such a Michaelbrent fan. I know horror isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I love it, and I’m particularly fond of his brand of horror. It’s quite bonkers. And that’s all down the characters he creates. Their definition is amazing. They’re also completely nuts, of course, but that’s what makes MBC’s characters so much fun.

Stranger Still is a follow on from Strangers which I enjoyed hugely and talk about here. It sounds like we’ll be getting more Legion stories too. Rah!

Full of action, humour and plenty of horror, Stranger Still was page-turning blast of a book. Loved it.

Serpent and Dove by Shelby MahurinSerpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

A high concept YA fantasy romance involving a witch and a witch hunter who are forced into marriage. But the story turns out waaaay more complicated than that.

Serpent and Dove won a bunch of accolades and I can see why. It was overloaded with juicy conflict, action, tested friendships, romance, passion and heroism. All the feels.

The only thing that peeved me a bit was that it ended without real resolution. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to buy its sequel Blood and Honey.

Undercover Love by Lucy ScoreUndercover Love by Lucy Score

Like pretty much all the Lucy Score books I’ve read so far, Undercover Love was a hoot. Lots of hot romance, sexy banter, humour, and an everyday heroine catapulted into an extraordinary situation.

Ashley was a great character. She was friendly, kind, clever and not one to be shoved around by anyone, including a hero who thinks he can stick his nose in under the pretence of taking care of her.

I also liked how evil Victoria was. She added a lot of fun bits.

Repeat by Kylie ScottRepeat by Kylie Scott

Far out, Kylie Scott writes awesome books. If you have never read her, I suggest you grab one of her titles today and prepare to be blown away.

I’ve always been a tad leery over the amnesia trope. I just find it hard to believe (although Annie West did it fabulously in Her Forgotten Lover’s Heir) so I was curious to see where Kylie Scott would take it. Nothing to get leery about here. Repeat sparkled from the first page to the last.

Loaded with emotion and a bit of danger too. Loved it. I have It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time waiting on my Kindle. Might have to push it up my to-be-read list.

Tiny White Lies by Fiona PalmerTiny White Lies by Fiona Palmer

A gorgeous piece of women’s fiction with a nice touch of romance. Tiny White Lies is a real heart-warmer, although it had its heart-stopping moments too.

The setting – an isolated coastal camp – was fabulous. I want to go there. It sounds glorious and reminded me a lot of our holiday shack growing in South Australia.

There were some serious issues covered in Tiny White Lies – suicide, for example – and it was nice to see them treated with so much compassion and understanding. I especially enjoyed the friendship between Ashley and Nikki, and how they cared for one another.

Blood Orange by Harriet TyceBlood Orange by Harriet Tyce

I’m still not sure how I feel about this book. On one hand it was riveting. On the other, the protagonist was so awful and unlikeable I wondered if I was going to stay the distance, and to be honest I nearly didn’t. I’m glad I persevered though, because Blood Orange turned out to be one hell of a twisty story with seriously twisted people.

Disturbing fun. If you like that kind of thing. Which it appears I do!

The Corset by Laura PurcellThe Corset by Laura Purcell

I absolutely adored Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions. That book was seriously creepy. Actually, more than creepy. It was downright terrifying. The Corset was creepy too although not quite as much. The menace wasn’t quite as thick in this one. It was, however, a fabulous gothic read and the way Purcell wove the two narratives together was clever.

The ending was very satisfying. I may have cheered. I’ll definitely be reading more by this author.

The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi MatthewsThe Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews

Having read and loved three of her books now, I’m beginning to wonder if Mimi Matthews can do no wrong. Her historical romances are completely gorgeous, with The Matrimonial Advertisement, book one in her Parish Orphans of Devon series, proving no exception.

The setting of this – a run-down windswept abbey in Devon – was right up my alley. But mostly I adored the hero Justin. He was gruff, rugged, sexy and brave and so, so heroic. The heroine Helena was wonderful too – tough and resourceful. They were a satisfying match.

Another sighworthy romance from Matthews. Next up is A Modest Independence followed by A Convenient Fiction, both already on my Kobo reader.

Contracted To Her Greek Enemy by Annie WestContracted To Her Greek Enemy by Annie West

Contracted to Her Greek Enemy is Annie West’s fortieth book and it shows. She’s at the top of her game. I just loved the hook at the end of the first chapter. I would have cuddled myself in glee if I’d written those lines. So, so cool.

I liked the ‘Pretty Woman’ theme in this – the shopping trip in particular made me smile. As for the setting… Annie does them so well. In Contracted to Her Greek Enemy I felt like I was there with Steph and Damen, sailing around the Med, stopping in beautiful island villas and strolling gorgeous cobbled streets. But it’s the romance that grips. Damen and Steph might not trust one another but there’s no denying their sizzling attraction. These two have baggage, though. A whole lot of baggage, which makes their journey to happily ever after even more satisfying and emotional.

Another fabulous sexy romance from Annie West. Oh, and I’m mentioned in the dedication. Wahoo!

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For the writerly…

Writing Active Hooks - The Complete How-to Guide by Mary BuckhamWriting Active Hooks: The Complete How-To Guide by Mary Buckham

Regular readers may recall me talking about Mary’s Writing Active Hooks Book 1: Action, Emotion, Surprise and More, which I read as an ebook in December 2019. I had planned to buy book two but when I discovered she’d released the two books as a complete paperback edition, I snapped that up instead. I much prefer my craft books in paperback, even though I’m fast running out of room to store them all.

A lot of the Complete How-To Guide was a repeat read but it was still excellent to revisit. As with Book 1, what really stuck with me on finishing was how important it is to write actively. Mary hammers this home through examples of how an author might have taken a hook from so-so to special through careful rewriting. I found that extremely useful.

Highly recommended.

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What exciting books have you read lately?

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8 Responses

  1. Cathryn, that’s some list of books, particularly after you had a hiccup reading in the middle of the month! I’m making a note of several including ‘Repeat’, ‘I Am Dust’ and ‘Undercover Love’. I love the sound of the setting in ‘The Matrimonial Advertisement’ too, so another one to add to the list.

    I’m chuffed you enjoyed ‘Contracted to Her Greek Enemy’!

    My recent favourite was Ian Rankin’s ‘The Black Book’ which had me hooked from the very opening and my current read ‘The Hangman’s Daughter’ by Oliver Poetsch. That one is a mystery set in a small Bavarian town in the early 17th century. One of the protagonists is the town hangman and it would be worth reading just for him.

    By the way, congratulations on the release of ‘Serenity’s Song’. It was a lovely page turner and I so enjoyed reading about such unique, engaging characters.

    • Hey Annie and thanks for dropping by!
      I definitely have my beady eye on The Hangman’s Daughter. That sounds very much like something I’d enjoy.
      I’m also very much looking forward to your next release too!

  2. Cathryn, firstly, may i agree with Annie (I ALWAYS agree with Annie) and say how much I loved Serenity’s Song? I love a great redemption story and you write such wonderful characters. Also on the subject of Annie, isn’t Contracted to Her Greek Enemy a corker?

    I’ve been doing lots of reading this month and most of it has been pretty good. Loved the new Elly Griffith, The Lantern Men. That’s such a wonderful series. On your recommendation, I picked up Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer and I just loved it. I’ll check out more of her books. Loved Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – neither were my usual reading but it was nice to stray outside my usual boundaries. Also loved London Rules by Mick Herron, part of his brilliant Slow Horses series. Read more but these were the standout fiction. The standout nonfiction was an absolutely brilliant book about female scientists called Figuring by Maria Popova. I cried in this one – that’s how good it was when it came to creating characters who leaped off the page.

    • Aww, thank you also for the Serenity love, Anna!
      I’m so glad you’ve discovered Anna Romer. I adore her books. They’re so atmospheric.
      I must read the second Elly Griffith book because I really enjoyed the first, and I keep hearing so much praise for the Slow Horses series that I MUST try it!
      WOW on the Figuring making you cry. That’s seriously impressive.
      Thanks so much for sharing. It’s always interesting to hear what others are reading and I’ve picked up a lot of new authors this way.

  3. Lots of good sounding books there, Cathryn. I’ll be adding some of those. Was only going to read the Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series but I might have to reconsider and add Repeat to my TBR list as I love love the amnesia trope.

    I read 12 books last month, another bunch of books that were most enjoyable, although 7 of them were in audio format but so so good.

    *A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester – my first read of her historical fiction and wow, can’t wait to read all her others.
    *Harbour by John Ajvide Lindquist – A good (kind of) horror story with supernatural elements. Creepy enough but won’t give you nightmares, lol.
    *The Key to it All by Joanna Rees – this was really cool, 5 random people receive a key, the key will give them anything their heart desires.
    *Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova – a book tackling a neurodegenerative disorder. Tissues needed for this one.
    *The Twenty Year Itch by Linda Kelsey – a thought-provoking read – husband takes a gap year from his career and his marriage.

    *Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris (audio) – extremely sad.
    *Me by Elton John read by Rocketman star Taron Egerton – such an excellent narrator.
    *The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen (audio) – really lovely and charming story.
    *The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead – a very sad story about the abuse boys suffered at the reform school in the Jim Crow-era.
    *Bowraville by Dan Box (audio) another sad one read by the author himself.
    *Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee (audio) – Amazing book, my second read by this author, love her books.
    *Control by Hugh Montgomery (audio) – a good medical thriller.

    • Wow! Another fab list of books from you, Sue. I will definitely be checking out the John Ajvide Lindquist title. You know how much I love horror and that sounds smack in my zone. Thanks!
      As for Taron Egerton… that man could read nursery rhymes and I’d listen to him. He’s such a brilliant actor.
      Thanks again for sharing!

      • Hehehe, thought you might check out Harbour, 500 pages was a bit off putting but it’s an easy flowing read and although I loved the blurb when I got deeper into the book I wasn’t quite sure about it but for some reason his words hypnotise you and you can’t stop reading. I loved how it’s set on a remote island in the Swedish archipelago, gives it an eerie feeling and one of unease.

        Hahaha, yeah he has a voice that can melt butter. I’m not familiar with Taron Egerton at all. Ooh Google search shows he’s been in a few movies and one called Eddie the Eagle, I’d be interested in seeing that and I have Rocketman DVD ready to watch. Steven and I have been a little obsessed with The Fast and the Furious movies, we’ve just watched our 8th one, can’t wait for 9 and 10 to be released. The special effects in the last four movies is phenomenal. The Rock and Vin Diesel together is mind blowing amazing. Do you watch those sort of movies, Cathryn?

        • I took a look at Harbour and it’s quite expensive as an ebook, so I’ll see if I can get it from the library. Or I might try one of his others. they all sound rather good. Love the location. It’s perfect for a creepy story.

          I’m not a Fast and Furious fan, but I don’t mind an action film now and then. Speaking of which, if you want to see Taron in action, get out the Kingsman films. They are brilliant! Incredibly violent but funny, very English and an absolute hoot. He was also great in Eddie the Eagle, and amaaaaazing in Rocketman. I am deeply in luuuurve!

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