My Favourite Reads banner 2020

Sunshiny spring greetings from bookloverland and thanks for dropping by for the latest edition of My Favourite Reads.

I had a fabulous reading month in September and finished eight books. Unfortunately, there were a couple of DNFs (did not finish) on top of those, and one that won’t be making it on my favourite reads list despite me enduring to the end.

That latter book had some fun elements, including a gorgeous hero, great setting and entertaining side characters. Alas, I struggled with its heroine. All I wanted to do was smack some sense into her! From its gazillion five-star reviews, it appears I’m in the minority. That’s books for you though.

Anyway, of the books I read, I pretty much loved all of them. Like, really loved. I had planned to choose an overall favourite but… too hard. So I’m giving two books my favourite of the month title.

The first is…

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Billy Summers by Stephen King

Billy Summers by Stephen KingWow. What a cracking read. It was lucky (?) we we’re in lockdown when I started Billy Summers because there wasn’t much else getting done once I did. I spent a delightful weekend lounging on the back deck unable to lift my head from its pages.

As always with a King novel, the characters are completely compelling. Billy is a hit man who’s on his final job but it’s proving to be one with problems. Four hundred plus pages of storytelling brilliance follows. I can’t tell you how invested I was in Billy. He was wonderful company.

Loved it.

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Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghyEqual favourite read with Billy Summers is Once There Were Wolves.

This was another stunning read from McConaghy. Migrations, which I read last year (my thoughts on that here), blew me away with its beauty and power, and Once There Were Wolves did the same. Gorgeous writing, wonderful, complex characters, and a fascinating setting and subject (the re-wilding of wolves into the Scottish Highlands), all wrapped in a murder mystery.

Fabulous, fabulous stuff. I can’t recommend McConaghy enough. She’s now cemented on my auto-buy list.

 

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The Reunion by Samantha HayesThe Reunion by Samantha Hayes

I quite enjoyed this psychological thriller set in Cornwall. There were plenty of twists and I liked how many of the characters start off appearing well-balanced and normal but end up far from it.

At the heart of The Reunion is the mystery of little Eleanor’s disappearance. Left in the charge of her teenage sister Clare, Eleanor heads off by herself to buy an icecream only to never return. The family remain anchored to the family farm, clinging to the hope that she’ll somehow find her way home. Except that never happens and when the family patriarch’s Alzheimer’s worsens, the decision is made to sell the farm. As a last hurrah, Clare invites all the friends that were present when Eleanor disappeared to a reunion. Then things start falling apart.

Lots of secrets, some shocking events, and plenty of intrigue to kept hooked. I did guess the culprit but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the ride. So much so I’ve already bought Hayes’ latest release, The Trapped Wife.

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None Shall Sleep by Ellie MarneyNone Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

A page-turning young adult thriller that was a bit ‘Silence of the Lambs’ movie and set in the early 1980s. I’m showing my age here, but that time frame gave me a lot of pleasure. All that forgotten pop culture!

I’ve read Australian author Ellie Marney’s Circus Hearts: All The Little Bones and Every Move and enjoyed them both but None Shall Sleep is definitely my favourite so far. There’s a serial killer on the loose, two clever teens with dark histories seconded to the FBI’s newly established Behavioural Science section, a Hannibal Lector type character for extra creepiness, and a plot that gallops and twists along.

Hugely entertaining with a satisfying, drama-packed climax.

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Sargasso by Kathy GeorgeSargasso by Kathy George

Another Australian author and a seriously close contender for favourite read.

This gothic Australian novel was very disturbing and hung in my mind long after I turned the final page. Definitely shades of Wuthering Heights in Sargasso.

The titular Sargasso is not the sea but a house designed by the heroine Hannah’s brilliant architect father. The story moves backwards and forwards between Hannah’s childhood and the present. We learn of her friendship with Flint – an intense friendship that is as disquieting as it is strong, and which is only broken when tragedy strikes the family. When Hannah returns to Sargasso as an adult, her friendship with Flint is rekindled. To the point of obsession.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for Kathy George’s next book.

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Horrorshow by Nathan AllenHorrorshow by Nathan Allen

A story within a story, Horrorshow is a novel about a man who returns to his hometown for his sister’s wedding, only to find the town has become even weirder than he remembered. Then the bodies start piling up.

Horrorshow was a bit of a mind-twister and quite bonkers, and if you’ve followed My Favourite Reads for a while, you’ll know that puts it smack in my zone.

Even though it was quite light on the horror slasher-ing and even poked fun at the genre, Horrorshow reminded me hugely of the movies I used to watch as a teenager. Films like ‘Friday 13th’ and ‘Evil Dead’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. And ‘Scream’, although I’d kind of moved on by the time the ‘Scream’ franchise got going.

A hoot.

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The Letter by Ruth SabertonThe Letter by Ruth Saberton

A beautiful and moving story set in two timelines, one contemporary and the other just before the outbreak of the First World War. Think old houses and secrets and lots of atmosphere. If you like Kate Morton, you’ll probably enjoy this.

Unashamedly romantic, The Letter covers many aspects of love, from its creation to its loss, the sometimes impossibility of it, and how it can entrench loyalties as well as tear them apart.

Lush writing and sympathetic characters, The Letter made me cry. A lot.

I’ll be checking out Ruth Saberton’s other titles. The Promise looks a good place to start.

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What have you read lately that’s got you excited?

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6 Responses

  1. Hi Cathryn, thanks so much for the list of recommendations. I’m not sure I’ll be reading many of them as I’m definitely in the mood for something light at the moment. For example, early this morning I finished off one of Nancy Warren’s Great Witches’ Baking Show cosies. Think The Great British Bakeoff mixed with a murder mystery with a slight witchy slant. But I’ll see what the weekend brings. I’ve so many books put to one side to read. It’s just a matter of finding time and picking one to suit my mood.

    • Oh, I keep forgetting about the Nancy Warren books. I really must give one a go. Ta for the reminder. You know how much I love TGBB!
      Am right with you on the too many books, too little time. There’s never enough. And yes, very important to pick on that suits your mood.
      Thanks so much for visiting.

  2. Oh, I’m definitely reading the top two on your list. They sound excellent. I’ve been reading a few corkers recently! Threadneedle by Cari Thomas utterly hooked me. And I reread Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education in preparation for the second book , The Last Graduate, which is winging its way to me as we speak (hopefully it’ll be in my hot little hand by Wednesday). Other than that, I’ve been reading a few writing craft books. The one I’ve just started is one you recommended — Mary Buckham’s Hooks. I’m looking forward to hunkering down with it on the weekend.

    • I started Threadneedle on the weekend and it’s taking a little bit for me to get into (a combination of mood and intimidation for the fatness of the read) but I’m sure it’ll win me over. I love these kinds of stories and it’s really well written. I must lift A Deadly Education up my reading list. I’ve been sitting on it for a while but have been choosing others, and NN is a wonderful writer.
      I hope Mary’s Hook book is hitting the spot. I thought it was brilliant. So practical.
      Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Cathryn, fascinating list as always! I must say just at the moment I’m a bit like Annie – I’m looking for something a bit lighter. A lot of these sound very intense!

    I’ve had some corkers of reads this last month or so. I’m sure I’ve recommended the two Taylor Jenkins Reid Books here – Daisy Jones and the Six and Malibu Rising. I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and loved it. Perhaps not quite as much as the other two but it’s a really fabulous read. I also read and loved Richard Osman’s follow-up to the brilliant Thursday Murder Club and loved it. The Man Who Died Twice has that same mix of the macabre and the comedic and there are some wonderful twists and turns.

    I also loved Nicola Cornick’s latest, The Last Daughter, a dual timeline story which picks on the enduring historical mystery of the Princes in the Tower. Fascinating and moving and really romantic as well. Win!

    Also read two books in series I love. Elly Griffiths latest Ruth Galloway mystery, The Night Hawks. I think these might be my favourite books at the moment. And I read and loved A.M. Stuart’s second Harriet Gordon mystery, Revenge in Rubies. I think it might be even better than her mystery debut Singapore Sapphire. Amazingly atmospheric setting in early 1900s Singapore and a great mystery.

    • LOL. Yes, they were a bit intense, Anna. It just happened to be what I was in the mood for.
      Ta for mentioning the Taylor Jenkins Reid books again. I’ve been meaning to pick one up for ages but have yet to do so and I must remedy that. Same with the Richard Osmans.
      Some wonderful books there (currently a bit annoyed my library doesn’t have the Ruth Galloways in ebook – grrr). We really need more time to read so we can share these wonderful experiences!

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