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…
How 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the Authorly
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?