My Favourite Reads banner 2020

Whoop! What a reading month January turned out to be, with a record thirteen books read. While I probably did a tad too much flopping about with a book in my hand, I think the quantity is more a reflection of how page-turnery the books were than anything else.

As for my favourite, hmm. It was a bit of a toss-up between three, but in the end I can’t go past…

.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St JamesHow to describe this fabulous book! Part mystery, part ghost story, part thriller, maybe a bit horror-y in parts… I don’t what to classify The Sun Down Motel as except bloody good.

Carly has come to Fell (which in itself is a cool name for a town) to find out what happened to her Aunt Viv, who disappeared from the creepy Sun Down Motel in 1982. The story swaps between Carly’s 2017 point-of-view and Viv’s from 1982, and the mystery unfolds as Carly digs into the past and upsets a few people.

Lots of twists, turns and shivers. Smack in my zone. I’ve been eyeing off The Haunting of Maddy Clare by St James for donkeys. Now I’ll definitely have to read it.

.

Singapore Sapphire by AM StuartSingapore Sapphire by AM Stuart

An enjoyable mystery set in a fascinating period in an interesting place – 1910s Singapore, at the height of colonial rule.

Singapore Sapphire had great atmosphere. The heat and humidity fairly radiated off the page, and more than once I wondered how any of the colonists managed to survive there given their completely unsuitable dress. The mystery was well-crafted and Harriet was an impressive character. I liked her relationship with Curran, the police inspector, too. That ought to lead to some entertaining interactions in future books in the series!

.

Changeling by Matt WesolowskiChangeling by Matt Wesolowski

Ooh, I liked Changeling. It’s written from the point of view of a true crime podcaster and it’s terrifically done too, moving between narration and transcripts. Although it’s book three in Wesolowski’s Six Stories series, it worked perfectly fine as a stand-alone.

Changeling was clever, very clever. You start off believing one thing and then you start to think, “hmmmmm, have I been misled here?” Excellent ending too.

I’d like to read the rest in the series now.

.

A Convenient Fiction by Mimi MatthewsA Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews

Another gorgeous romance from Mimi Matthews. A Convenient Fiction is the third book in her Parish Orphans of Devon series and it’s a cracker. (I talk about book one, The Matrimonial Advertisement, here and book two, A Modest Independence, here)

I’d been looking forward to Alex’s story and discovering what happened to him. While all the orphans have intriguing backstories, Alex’s was the most mysterious and I was curious to see how Matthews would redeem him. Very well is how. We even get a trip to Provence for extra oomph.

I also like how Matthews doesn’t shy away from giving her characters dark emotional wounds. Book four, The Winter Companion is already on my e-reader.

.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time by Kylie ScottIt Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time by Kylie Scott

Kylie Scott’s books always cheer me up. She has such a unique voice, and her female characters are full of sass. I always finish her books wearing a big smile.

Snappy dialogue, lots of emotion and a gorgeous (and sizzling!) romance made It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time a fun read. I really enjoyed Adele’s relationship with her stepmother-to-be, too. Nice to see it portrayed so positively.

Hero Pete was as sexy as hell. I’d swim in his pool any day!

.

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan HowardThe Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

What a clever thriller! I read it over a couple of days it was so riveting.

Like Changeling, The Nothing Man was another interestingly told story in that it’s a book within a book. Part of the narration are extracts from a memoir the heroine has written, other parts are from The Nothing Man’s point of view. I was reading about The Nothing Man as he was reading about himself. Doing it that way created great tension and it was fun experiencing his outrage after we’d read some of the memoir.

Highly recommended.

.

Havenfall by Sara HollandHavenfall by Sara Holland

I’ve become a bit of a sucker for young adult fantasies. When I spotted Havenfall it sounded smack in my happy place and I snapped it up immediately.

Havenfall is an inn in the Colorado mountains that hides portals between worlds and acts as a safe place for visitors from those worlds. Maddie has always loved it and aspires to become its innkeeper after her Uncle Marcus. When Maddie heads there this time, she expects another summer of adventure and love. Then Marcus is badly injured, a savage creature is on the loose, the boy she adores disappears. In the chaos Maddie finds herself responsible for Havenfall when she feels unready and allies are few.

This was nicely imagined although I did get a bit frustrated with Maddie at times. Probably my age showing!

.

Beacon 23 by Hugh HoweyBeacon 23 by Hugh Howey

This was a blast of a book and another I read quite quickly. Sci-Fi isn’t usually my thing, but I really enjoyed Howey’s Wool and I luuuuurved Jay Kristoff’s and Amie Kaufman’s Illuminae Files series and Amie Kaufman’s and Meagan Spooner’s Starbound Trilogy, and I’m a lot more open to the genre these days.

Beacon 23 is about war, PTSD, love, loneliness, heroism and more. It’s quite moving in places, very funny in others, philosophical, and even a little romantic at times. And there are aliens.

A hoot.

.

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth UnderdownThe Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

I gobbled The Witchfinder’s Sister down in a day and a half and had a wonderful time doing so. While fiction, it’s based around the witch hunts of the mid 1600s in rural England, focusing on real-life witch hunter Matthew Hopkins.

The sister of the title is Alice, a woman forced back to her brother’s house after the death of her husband. She is witness to Matthew’s descent into monstrousness, and is desperate to work out why he has become so. It’s an entertaining and well-imagined journey, although it’s infuriating that this awful misogynist had so much power and wasn’t stopped. Hopkins was responsible for over a hundred deaths in the end. Bastard.

.

The Cove by Malcolm RichardsThe Cove by Malcolm Richards

I’ve had my eye on the Devil’s Cove trilogy for a while now and when the boxed set recently came up on sale on Kobo I grabbed it. I’m glad I did because if the other two books are as good as The Cove I’m in for a treat.

The Cove is part mystery, part thriller and part horror. There are plenty of twists and lots of secrets. I particularly liked Richards’ portrayal of coastal holiday village life, where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Or think they do.

I look forward to book two, Desperation Point.

.

The Haunting of Rookward House by Darcy CoatesThe Haunting of Rookward House by Darcy Coates

My second Darcy Coates horror proved even better than the first (I talk about The House Next Door here). I do love having the pants scared off me and Coates is excellent at it.

This was smack in my zone. Rookward House is wonderfully creepy and isolated, with a suitably awful backstory. Guy, the protagonist, had a great backstory too, which made him compelling to follow and explained a lot of his reactions.

Very well done. I’ll be reading more.

.

The Sheikhs Marriage Proclamation by Annie WestThe Sheikh’s Marriage Proclamation by Annie West

One of Annie’s best. But that wasn’t a surprise. She does awesome sheikh stories.

This had one of the best hero and heroine meet cutes you could ask for – sexy and a little funny. I’d love to reveal more but I’d hate to spoil any of it for you. Just believe me, it’s gorgeous. As is Raif. He’s totally swoonworthy and super heroic. I couldn’t have asked for a better match for Tara.

Fab.

.

For the Authorly

.

Dear Writer You Need to Quit by Becca SymeDear Writer, You Need to Quit by Becca Syme

Syme says in her opening chapter that this is a book about what to keep, what to quit and what to question. She asks struggling authors to “question the premise” of pretty much everything they do as a writer. Even going so far to question whether it’s a good idea to continue as one, if it’s not best for you. Fortunately quitting writing is rarely the answer to writerly woes. The answer can usually be found elsewhere. Syme identifies where they might be located and gives tips on how to fix them. Be warned though, none of the fixes are easy. Everything takes work. Work you are probably not going to like.

Dear Writer, You Need to Quit is loaded with tough love and perhaps not for the faint-hearted. It gave me a good kick up the pants though. I think this is a book I’ll return to again and again, especially when I’m feeling uncertain about my process.

.

What great books have you read lately?

.

Love free books banner

6 Responses

  1. Thirteen books? Thirteen books! How did you manage that and write too?

    I’m absolutely THRILLED you enjoyed Raif and Tara’s story. Writing those characters was a real juggling act with the power dynamics and the strong personalities. I’ve got a massive grin on my face.

    What a variety of books, you’ve dipped into! I’m making notes.

    • I have no idea how I managed that many books either, Annie. It’s certainly a record for me. I think it was just that so many were real page-turners.

      Raif and Tara were gorgeous. I’m looking forward to your next one!

  2. Ooh, what a great list! I’ve added quite a few to my TBR. Like you, I’ve also become a bit of a sucker for young adult fantasy, they’re great, aren’t they, Cathryn? I’m hoping to start the Rick Riordan books soon and continue with the Cassandra Clare Mortal Instruments series – so good.

    Here’s mine: Dietland by Sarai Walker – hmm, I didn’t like this book, can’t stand books that hate on men. The Power by Naomi Alderman – even worse than Dietland, the hatred and the women given ‘the power’ to hurt men is unreal and sadistic. Listened to these on audible because they were available through the BorrowBox app and for the Popsugar Challenge, some of the prompts are a little challenging but most of them are fun. Thank goodness for light and gorgeous reads by Joanne Dannon – A Magical Hanukah in New York, Another Magical Hanukah in New York and Falling for The Best Man – loved all three. Christmas in New York and Another Christmas in New York by Charmaine Ross – two sweet romances and linked to Joanne Dannon’s books. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup – a very sad story. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – an extraordinary book, the storytelling blew me away. It follows three historians as they journey across Eastern Europe looking for Dracula’s secret resting place. Loved this book so much. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena – a locked-room mystery, have heard of them but never read one…until now, I’ll be looking for more of those types of books as they’re fun and who doesn’t love a good murder mystery book? Out of the Silence by Wendy James – an intriguing historical fiction book set in the early 1900s, Melbourne and country Victoria. The Secret Barrister by The Secret Barrister – about the British criminal justice system, seems it’s just as broken as ours.

    • Another fabulous list of reads, Sue. Goodness you read widely. Very impressive.
      God, I’d forgotten how brilliant The Historian was. I read it when it first came out and loved it too. For a big fat book it never once bogged down. That’s real storytelling skill.
      Hmm… I wouldn’t mind reading that again but I got rid of my print copy so it’ll have to be the library. It’s so hard to re-read though, isn’t it, when you have a bazillion unread books in your pile.
      Have you read any of Wendy James’s other books? They’re fab.
      Thanks again for sharing. Always so interesting!

      • Thanks Cathryn. Hehe, I do now but once upon a time I only read psychological crime thrillers and (Virginia Andrews lol), to think if I was still only reading that genre I sure would be missing out on many amazing books/genres.

        Ooh, so glad you too loved The Historian, I also would love to do a reread but I don’t think that will happen, you’re right Cathryn, so hard when we have a never ending pile of unread books. I must try her other works though.

        No, I haven’t but I intend to read all of Wendy James’s books. I have The Mistake sitting on my bookshelf.

        April loved The House Next Door by Darcy Coates, says it’s her kind of writing. She can’t wait to read the next one you’ve recommended. I’ll have to download it for her and pass her my Kindle again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become a blog subscriber!

Keep up with all the news by joining the blog team. Simply enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories
Archives
%d bloggers like this: