My Favourite Reads banner 2020

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…

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Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

Hydra by Matt WesolowskiI 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.

Brilliant. I’m already reading book four, Beast, and have book five, Deity, bought. What I’m going to do after those I don’t know. There don’t seem to be any more in the offing. Nooooo!

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It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsIt Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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.

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A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini SinghA Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

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.

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The Scarlet Dress by Louise DouglasThe Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas

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.

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Curse of the Poppy by Emily OrganCurse of the Poppy by Emily Organ

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!

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What have you enjoyed reading lately?

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4 Responses

  1. I had a huge HUGE reading month having read 17 books. Ten were audiobooks, do they count because I’m not actually holding a physical book. Anyways, the books and audio version were all so good, not a dud among them. Here’s my list:

    *Lost in Kakadu by Kendall Talbot – so good and so thrillery.
    *The Spare Room by Helen Garner – (audio) ok, this one might have been a dud. Good story but wasn’t too impressed with her attitude towards alternative medicine/therapies.
    *The Last Bushranger by Mike Munro -(audio) very very interesting, worth a read especially that it has to do with Mike Munro’s family. Fascinating stuff.
    *Sorry We’re Closed by Annie Seaton – 4th and last book in the Bondi Beach Love Series – fun and delightful story.
    *I Catch Killers by Gary Jubelin and Dan Box – (audio) another book that is worth checking out. A prominent homicide detective worked on some of the biggest criminal cases in Australia. Very sad that he was turfed out of the police force for making one minor mistake. A 30 year career gone, so sad.
    *Forever Mine by Joanne Dannon – A darling story featuring to endearing characters. Love this.
    *C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton – I adore Kinsey Milhone – great detective.
    *The Turning by Tim Winton – (audio) a collection of loosely linked short stories. I’ll listen to anything when it’s narrated by my most favourite audiobook narrators – Humphrey Bower and Caroline Lee.
    *The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy by B.M. Carroll – Well written. Fast paced. Suspenseful. Extraordinary. So Good. This would be my standout novel of the month.
    *The One Who Got Away – by Caroline Overington – (audio) gripping.
    *The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher – (audio) Carrie Fisher is quirky, jokey and vibrant in this fun and entertaining memoir.
    *Still Travelling by Mal Leyland – (audio) Mal’s account of his travelling days past and present and what took place behind the scenes/camera. Very sad in parts. At least I now know the truth about Leyland Brothers World Theme Park, Wikipedia is not truthful.
    *Behind the Scenes by Kathryn White – an awesome and compelling YA fiction story featuring celebrity romance and a tv show. Yay to those.
    *Land of Plenty by Herb Hamlet – This was an excellent and gripping adventure thriller set in Toowoomba. Jack gets caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse. It will keep you on your toes. The First Nations people played an excellent part in this book. Outstanding.
    *Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – (audio) after book 2 Norse Mythology is still not my thing but it was action-packed, entertaining and breezy.
    *Paper Towns by John Green – (audio) powerful and thought-provoking.
    *Left for Dead by Samantha Barlow, Sue Williams -(audio) This was a truly heartbreaking true crime story.

    I too have always wanted to read a book by Nalini Singh, ah, one day. When I do I’ll check out the one you listed.

    • Hooly-dooly, Sue, you sure did have a mammoth reading month. And yes, audio definitely counts! Interesting about the Helen Garner. I read The Spare Room too and loved it but I pretty much adore everything she writes. There are a few on your list I’m going to take a look at. Definitely Land of Plenty. That one sounds cool.
      Thanks so much again for sharing. Always so very interesting!!!

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