Welcome to the May edition of My Favourite Reads. A little bit shorter than usual because we spent part of May road-tripping to my hometown of Mt Gambier in South Australia and not a lot of reading was done. Some faaaaabulous sightseeing was though, with not one but two silo art trails completed. You can find a bunch of photos on my Facebook page.
I also met my new great nephew for the first time which was very cool. Such a sweetie and we’re all ridiculously proud. AND I wrote a song with my brother, who plays in a rock band. If it’s not too embarrassing, I might post the band’s video when it eventually goes live. Or not… We shall see.
On to books!
As I mentioned, not a lot of reading but there were some beauties among those I did complete, with my favourite – winning in a toss-up – being…
I seriously cannot get enough of this Six Stories crime/thriller series. I just love them. The format – told like a true-crime podcast by investigative journalist Scott King – works brilliantly and lets the story unfold in a unique way (the Six Stories concept is that each crime or mystery is told through the eyes of six people with connections to it).
Hydra is book two in the series (I’ve been reading out of order) and deals with the case of Arla Macleod, who bludgeoned her family to death for no apparent reason. Sentenced to a mental health institution, Arla is now willing to talk. To Scott and Scott only. What follows is a sinister and scary journey into some very dark places.
It took me a while to work out why this one was called Hydra but it made a lot of sense in the end. A lot of sense and a bit anxiety inducing too, especially when the narrator is drawn into the sick world of online trolling, doxxing and other ‘games’. Yuck.
Hooly-dooly, this was SO MUCH FUN and my second favourite read of the month by a whisker.
It Had to Be You is a wonderfully bonkers story about a wayward heiress who inherits a Chicago based professional American football team – a beyond the grave manipulation thanks to her slimy father. It turns out that Phoebe knows zero about the game and even less about running a team but this girl is clever and just the person to make it work.
The characters in It Had To Be You were so big. Wonderfully, delightfully so. Phoebe was a blast and the opening scene had me laughing out loud. Then there’s deliciously meaty but smart head coach Dan, his ex-wife Valerie (her intro had my eyes bulging), lovely business manager Ron, and Molly, Phoebe’s resentful half sister. And don’t get me started on the players.
Bonkers and I loved it.
I’ve wanted to read a Nalini Singh novel for a long time. I’ve heard her speak at writer’s conferences and been impressed and wanted to see her craft in action, so to speak. But the series she’s most famous for – the Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series – aren’t really my thing. When I read the news that she’d been contracted for some New Zealand-set crime novels I was determined to give them a go.
What stood out for me with A Madness of Sunshine was the setting. It was amazing. A stunning and yet dangerous small coastal town, that added atmosphere to the story and a was nice backdrop for the characters. I also liked the stark contrasts and relationships between the town’s have and have-not inhabitants.
An enjoyable and solid murder mystery in a great location. Ooh, and I mustn’t forget the satisfying subplot of romance. I liked that too.
I think this must be the third or fourth Louise Douglas title I’ve read and while I don’t think it was quite as compelling as The Secrets Between Us (loved that book so hard) it was still an intriguing mystery. Like A Madness of Sunshine, The Scarlet Dress was set in a curious location, a derelict holiday park at Severn Sands (which I guessed to be on a heavily tidal section of the UK’s Severn River).
The story flips between the past and present, revealing the circumstances behind the mystery in slow but compelling chapters. Again, there were some great characters. Marnie, who is mute, was a child when Alice, the victim, disappeared and is highly sympathetic. I can’t say I felt the same way about Will though. I could have kicked his bum at times.
I have another Louise Douglas – The House by the Sea – waiting on my Kobo and will definitely read that soon.
Book five in the Penny Green series and another lovely read. This time our intrepid journalist Penny finds herself involved in a murder mystery with links to the opium trade.
Naturally, dishy but untouchable Inspector James Blakely becomes involved and lots of twists and turns follow as we wind our way to solving another fun mystery.
Curse of the Poppy ended on a surprising note. One I suspected might happen but a path I didn’t really think the author would take. Luckily, I already have the next five books making it easy to find out what happens!
What have you enjoyed reading lately?