Welcome again to My Favourite Reads. I had a lovely reading month in February. With only one dud book, and it wasn’t even that dudly. Just not quite the story I expected from that author.
Not as many books as normal but I did spend part of the month reading my own (now fully completed – RAH!) manuscript. Twice. Which was nice, and I’m thrilled to bits with the story and characters, but all that re-reading can get a tad repetitive. Still, these things must be done and, all going to plan, there’ll be more of it to come, too.
The rest of my February reads were total winners which made it quite tricky to choose an overall favourite. But I did choose, and My Favourite Read for February was…
The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell
I’ve read a few Laura Purcell’s now and enjoyed them hugely (The Silent Companions, which I talk about here, was brilliantly creepy), which made The Whispering Muse an auto-buy. And it was a cracker.
An historical thriller set in the Mercury Theatre in London’s West End, The Whispering Muse is loaded with atmosphere. The writing was so evocative, I spent half my time taking happy snaps of favourite passages for future admiration. The characters were amazing too. While all were excellent, two were standouts – dresser Jenny, the star of the book, whose circumstances compel her to spy for the theatre owner’s wife. And Lilith, the lead actress whose Faustian pact could cost them all.
There’s revenge, jealousy, uncanny happenings, mystery, and an all-pervading atmosphere of danger, along with family tension, oodles of twists, and some particularly inventive deaths. Yet there is heart and hope too.
Absolutely loved it. Can’t wait to see what Purcell comes up with next!
Reclaiming His Runaway Cinderella by Annie West
Reclaiming His Runaway Cinderella is Annie West’s 50th novel (how’s THAT for an achievement) and she absolutely nailed it. I loved this book from the first page. The opening was nothing short of brilliant – so emotional, so dramatic!!! – and the awesomeness just carried on from there.
Ida was such a great heroine, brave and self-sufficient. And Cesare… sigh. What a gorgeous hero. We have a wonderfully nasty villain too, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s a Tuscan villa setting!
So much goodness. All the feels and more. And a very, very close contender for my overall favourite read of February.
If you love passionate, emotional romance – and don’t we all! – then Reclaiming His Runaway Cinderella is a must-read. Go get ‘em.
The Witch of Tin Mountain by Paulette Kennedy
I’m not sure how I came to pick up The Witch of Tin Mountain but I’m certainly glad I did. It was a fab book. A depression-era historical suspense set in the Ozarks following three generations of women healers who face not only prejudice but a recurring evil.
The Witch of Tin Mountain had excellent atmosphere. The mountain isolation was palpable and the prejudice and persecution the women suffered was really well done. I loved how believable the small town turning all Lord of the Flies was. It reminded me a bit of that scene in ‘The Kingsman’ film where actor Colin Firth’s Harry character goes mad.
Very entertaining. Interesting too.
Must Love Babies by Kelly Hunter
I read books two and three in this series at Christmas and LOVED them (I talk about both here) so there was no way I was going to miss book one.
What a cracking read! Must Love Babies was so much fun. Seth was absolutely gorgeous and the banter between him and Mardie was wonderful. Boy, does that man know how to flirt! And do lots of other awesome things like repair stuff (gotta love a man who can fix things), win skiing world championships, look after babies, and more… Deep sigh.
Fantastic. Loved it. Go buy the whole series, you won’t be disappointed.
The Water Witch by Jessica Thorne
Set on France’s Brittany coast, The Water Witch is a beautifully written treasure hunt/adventure romance, with a stunning setting, archaeology, mythology, and characters I barracked for all the way through.
I found this a real page-turner of a story, driven along by the mystery of the legendary drowned city of Ys, the painful backstories of the characters, and the deeply romantic and compelling relationship between Ari and Rafael. The inclusion of Breton language, customs, and landmarks added excellent local flavour.
Another very close contender for my favourite read of the month.
NB. The Water Witch is described as a fantasy, but I think that description a bit confusing. There’s no real fantasy. To me, it’s a contemporary with mild paranormal elements, a bit along the lines of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft.
What books have recently fluttered your book lovin’ heart?
Wow, you have had a cracking month of reading, Cathryn. And I’m absolutely thrilled that ‘Reclaiming His Runaway Cinderella’ is up there with your faves for the month. yay! I’m grinning from ear to ear.
I’ve made a note of all your suggestions this month as they sound fascinating. For me it’s been a slow reading month as I’ve had visitors through February. I read Nevada Barr’s ‘Destroyer Angel’ which definitely kept me turning the pages – about a group of women who are kidnapped while camping – that description is a bit too mild for what actually happens. I’ve read several of Barr’s books before but not for a while and this was more intense than any I recall. I’m also partway through Mary Beard’s ‘The Fires of Vesuvius’ which is a fascinating non fiction about Pompeii.
Annie, I just checked it out and that Nevada Barr sounds fab. Definitely one for the ‘want’ list. She’s a new to me author, so that’ll be fun.
I’ve never read any of Mary Beard’s books but if they’re anything like her television series, they’ll be hugely entertaining and informative.
Thanks so much for sharing and your Cinderella absolutely deserves its place in the list. It was FAB!!!
I just read The Daughters of Eve by Nina D Campbell. A psychological thriller. It was fantastic.
The Daughters of Eve sounds fab too, Michelle. I’ve added it to my wishlist!
As ever, you’ve read a fabulous bunch of books, Cathryn. They all sound great (clearly more are going to be added to the must read list). I have that Annie West sitting by my armchair. It’s next up after my book group read. And speaking of favourite books for February, last month’s book group pick was Sarah Winman’s Still Life. I adored every moment of it. I loved it so much I bought my own copy after I returned the library book. It was every glorious thing. And so was Taylor Jenkin Reid’s Malibu Rising, which I read while I was on my beach holiday–perfect as it’s set at the beach too.
Michelle, you mentioned two of my fave books from last year (actually THREE because Annie’s 50th book is a corker!). I adored Still Life. I was completely enchanted by it and I love it when a story doesn’t take me where I think it will when I start it. And I think Malibu Rising is my favourite Taylor JR. I’ve now read all her backlist and they’re all great but that one’s a real standout. Did you see there’s a series of Daisy Jones and the Six starting on Amazon? Loved that book too. Wonder how the adaptation will stand up.
LOL, I’m clearly late to the party, Anna. Both are such different books, but enchanting and compelling and so big-hearted. Glad you loved them too. I can’t wait to see the Daisy Jones adaptation. It’s my favourite of TJR, but Malibu Rising is close behind.
I loved Still Life too, Michelle. It was just gorgeous and so warming.
Thanks to Ms Campbell’s recommendation, I picked up Daisy Jones and the Six the other day, so will be reading my first Taylor Jenkins Reid soon! Am hankering to watch the telly series but I want to read the book first.
Cathryn, what an interesting selection! Isn’t Annie’s book the bee’s knees. Such emotional stakes! A real champion for her 50th book. We’d expect nothing less, would we?
I had a look at my reading this month and the standout was Richard E. Grant’s memoir called A Pocketful of Happiness. This one had some lovely stories but the strength of the story is that it’s built around his beloved wife’s death from cancer. It sounds a bit grim but it was actually really life-affirming. Although I must admit I was in tears by the end. Otherwise I seem to have read a lot of OK but not outstanding nonfiction. See you next month. Love this column.
Annie certainly pulled out all stops with Reclaiming His Runaway Cinderella, Anna. It was a cracking read and the perfect way to celebrate 50 books.
I bet that Richard E Grant memoir was a wonderful read. He is so interesting.
Thanks for dropping by and wonderful to hear you’re enjoying the blog series.