My Favourite Reads banner 2020

Welcome to another edition of My Favourite Reads, the series in which I share the books I read and loved over the past month.

My August reads were an eclectic bunch. There were romances, adventures, thrillers and a fantasy, and all of them made me happy in one way or another. A most excellent outcome. We need all the happiness we can get at the moment.

My favourite for the month? A lovely fat read called…

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The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea StewartThis was creative and clever and deserves every one of its many five-star ratings. I was also chuffed to learn that it’s the first book in a trilogy because The Bone Shard Daughter’s landscape is definitely one I want to return to. The world-building was fabulous, the characters compelling, and there were some juicy twists.

The Bone Shard Daughter is a fantasy set in a crumbling land ripe for rebellion thanks to its distracted emperor. There’s a touch of romance, plenty of politics and lots of magic. The emperor’s ‘constructs’ were grossly fascinating, as was how he obtained the precious bone shards that fuelled them. Although told from a few points-of-view, the emperor’s daughter Lin is one of the main storytellers. I loved her. She was brave, determined and strong. I can’t wait to find out what happens to her. And to Jovis and Phalue and Ramani. And I mustn’t forget magical Mephi. He was so endearing!

The Bone Shard Emperor comes out in November. I’ll be buying.

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Billionaire’s Road Trip to Forever by Michelle DouglasBillionaire’s Road Trip to Forever by Michelle Douglas

Oh, this friends-to-lovers story was lovely! Michelle Douglas’s romances never fail to charm, but Billionaire’s Road Trip to Forever was extra fun because of the road-trip theme. I loved how Bree’s and Noah’s journey came about too. Nothing like a wedding fiasco to up the ante.

I was especially surprised and delighted by the heroine’s original motivation for the road-trip. That was so nice and showed perfectly the kind of person Bree is and why our delicious hero Noah falls for her.

Emotional and happy-making. Go read. You’ll love it.

PS: I really want to write a road-trip story now!

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The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura DaveThe Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

The Last Thing He Told Me has been hitting bestseller lists all over the place and I can see why. It’s a cracking read. I finished it in a couple of days because I simply couldn’t put it down. The mystery of why Owen disappeared, leaving his precious daughter in the care of his wife Hannah (not her mother), was irresistible. For me, anyway.

I’ll have to keep an eye out for the telly series. Apparently Apple has acquired the rights and Julia Roberts is going to star as Hannah, which I think will work really well.

A very close contender for favourite read.

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Force of Habit: The Complete Series by James Scott BellForce of Habit: The Complete Series by James Scott Bell

I’m a big admirer of Bell’s writing craft books. I also thought his zombie lawyer series was a hoot so when Force of Habit went on sale I grabbed it. A vigilante nun? I just had to!

Originally published as novellas, Bell has gathered the Sister Justicia Marie stories into one volume along with a bonus novelette. All the stories in Force of Habit are quick reads, galloping along with Sister Justicia kicking her way into and out of trouble, and driving her superiors and local police potty in the process.

Pure entertainment.

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A Consequence Made in Greece by Annie WestA Consequence Made in Greece by Annie West

I know I’ve said it before but Annie West really does write the most amazing openings. If she ran a masterclass on the subject, I’d be first in line.

Cora, A Consequence Made in Greece’s heroine, is one of Annie’s best. She’s intelligent, hard-working, loyal and caring – more than enough woman for Strato. As for Strato, how he changes from dissatisfied playboy to loving man was one of my favourite things about this read.

The black moment? Wowsers! Talk about punch in the gut emotion.

Gorgeous ending too. Satisfaction all round.

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One Wicked Wish by Anna CampbellOne Wicked Wish by Anna Campbell

One Wicked Wish is the first book in Anna’s new A Scandal in Mayfair series and it’s set a cracking standard.

After fleeing Italy with nothing, One Wicked Wish’s heroine Stella is stuck being a companion to her wealthy cousin and forced into the background to keep a roof over her head. Not easy for a woman of her cleverness and sensuality. Then along comes notorious rake (and all-round delicious man) Lord Halston. Much sexiness ensues, made even more exciting because of the risk, and consequences, if they’re caught.

Sexy, romantic and lush. I have book two already.

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The Bermondsey Poisoner by Emily OrganThe Bermondsey Poisoner by Emily Organ

Book six in the Penny Green Victorian Mystery series and a nice addition to the stable. I’m really enjoying these stories. I love the mysteries and I particularly like the time period, and the romance thread is nice too. There was a good twist with regards to that in The Bermondsey Poisoner too and I’m looking forward to where book seven, An Unwelcome Guest, goes with it.

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The Venice Code by J. Robert KennedyThe Venice Code by J. Robert Kennedy

This series is a hoot. Like reading a modern-day Indiana Jones – completely implausible but, oh so entertaining!

In The Venice Code, archaeology professor James Acton and the gang are on a mission to track down a crystal skull, missing for 700 years and reputed to have extraordinary powers. As always with these Acton stories, we venture all over the globe and even travel back to the time of Ghengis Khan.

A blast. I have The Viking Deception awaiting me next. Yay!

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Bone China by Laura PurcellBone China by Laura Purcell

Ah, I do love a creepy story and Laura Purcell is expert at producing them. The Silent Companions remains my absolute favourite of hers (hair-raising!) but Bone China (titled The House of Whispers in the US) was very enjoyable.

Bone China is set in Cornwall, in a sinister, isolated house overlooking a cliff with a crashing ocean and caves below. Cue much gothic atmosphere and danger, with a mad doctor and superstitious locals and a heroine with much to hide thrown in.

Excellent stuff.

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For the writerly

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45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

I bought this book six or seven years ago as a Writer’s Digest package deal with 20 Master Plots by Ronald S. Tobias but never really looked at it. I should have. 45 Master Characters is amazing.

Not only does Schmidt go through different character profiles, she also explains what that character cares about, what they fear, what motivates them, and how other characters see them. Then she reveals their character arc and how to make them grow, their assets and flaws, and where you can find examples in film, television and literature. This is invaluable stuff. Material you can actually apply. Which is more than can be said for some of the other craft books I’ve collected over the years.

A must for your writing craft collection.

I was so impressed I’m now rereading Schmidt’s Story Structure Architect and seriously contemplating buying her Writer’s Guide to Characterization: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, and Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development.

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What have you read lately that you loved?

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9 Responses

  1. Well, aren’t you lovely featuring my One Wicked Wish! I love that review. Thank you! I’m about to spruik it all over the place.

    Lovely selection this month, Cathryn. I’ve read Annie’s wonderful Greek romance – it’s a real treat. I’ve made a note of some of the others I’m interested in.

    I’ve had a better reading month which is good news. Two fiction books I loved were LIncoln in the Bardo by George Saunders which one the Booker prize a couple of years ago. It’s strange and haunting and ultimately very moving. I also loved The Death of Mrs. Westaway which is an intriguing mystery/thriller/gothic that I think would be up your alley.

    Nonfiction-wise, I loved Square Haunting by Francesca Wade which is about 5 women writers who lived in Mechlenburgh Square in London in the 1920s-1940s, including Virginia Woolf and Dorothy L. Sayers (who is one of my favourite writers). Really loved When Death Becomes Life by Joshua D. Mezrich which are the memoirs of a transplant surgeon. Fascinating!

    • You’re very welcome re the OWW comments, Anna. It was most enjoyable and I look forward to the next too.
      Now, that’s interesting about Lincoln in the Bardo. I gave up reading Booker winners after The Luminaries but maybe Lincoln might be worth a try. And ta for the tip re The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I’ve been meaning to read Ruth Ware for a while but haven’t jumped in yet. I must remedy.
      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your reads. Always interesting!!

  2. Oh, how lovely to see my Road Trip among your reads this month, Cathryn! You definitely ought to write a road trip story of your own — they’re sooo much fun. 🙂

    I have Annie’s sitting on my TBR pile and so looking forward to diving into it. And I’m currently reading my copy of 45 Master Characters (your fault, I believe!). It’s such an interesting way of looking at character and story! I love it. You have me wondering if I shouldn’t grab her Story Structure Architect too.

    I read a couple of corkers in the last month. Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky was brilliant (she’s one of my favourite authors). Her characterisations and the way she brings everything together at the end…just amazing. And a couple of romances that I really enjoyed were Jessica Gilmore’s Malaysian Date with the Single Dad (sweet, emotional, with gorgeous settings), and The Apology Project by Jeanette Escudero. The last was an impulse buy, but I’m so glad I grabbed it–really interesting and vivid characters that have stayed with me.

    And now I’m looking at The Bone Shard Daughter and wondering if I should add it to my list…

    • Also, I’m crap with titles. That should be Indonesian date with the Single Dad (Malaysia is, however, where my current hero and heroine are 😉 ). Sorry! My bad.

      • You’re in for a treat with Annie’s new one, Michelle. Enjoy! Ooh, I just read the blurb for The Apology Project and that sounds a lot of fun. Ta for the rec. I’ll put it on my wish list.
        Thanks so much for dropping by!

  3. Cathryn, I’m so delighted you enjoyed my Consequence book so much! Happy dancing here… It was a story that really hooked me deeply so to discover someone else got hooked too is great.

    I’ve been in a bit of a reading hiatus, finding it hard to settle. I’ve read Anna’s fabulous first book in the Mayfair series and have no. 2 ready to dive into. I also have Michelle’s roadtrip story waiting for me, calling my name. Meanwhile I’ve begun Ian Rankin’s ‘A Song for the Dark Times’ which I’m loving – so long since I read a Rebus and am part way through Minoan Crete by Vance Watrous, who’s worked as an archaeologist there for decades. Must look up The Venice Code you recommended and a few others!

    • Thanks for visiting, Annie! Gosh, you’ve reminded me that it’s been years since I read Rebus. I went mad on Rankin for a while, reading he entire series from start to whatever the latest was but I haven’t been back for a while. No idea why. I loved those books.
      The J. Robert Kennedy books are completely over the top but they’re a blast and a fab way to kill an afternoon if you’re after pure entertainment.
      You’ll have lots of fun with Michelle’s Road Trip. SUCH a lovely story. Really moving.

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