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My Favourite Reads

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads for March 2019!

I had an excellent reading month, fitting in more books than normal. Probably because they were all so good. There are even a couple of non-fiction reads this month. Very unusual for me.

But my favourite read has to be…

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man by Jane HarperYep, it lived up to the hype. Bigtime.

As with The Dry (which I talked about here), the setting for The Lost Man was wonderfully drawn. You could feel the isolation and danger of the land. It added an extra dimension to what is already a tension filled story.

Lots of twists, fascinating family situation, the rules of survival in a harsh country, and a truly intriguing mystery. I’ve been reading quite a few Australian thrillers/crime novels recently and this is one of the best.

Highly recommended.

The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart TurtonThe 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I’ve been wanting to read this award-winning murder mystery since release but it was ridiculously priced in ebook (my reading preference) and I let it slide. Then it appeared on sale and there was much yippee-ing and one-clicking.

Be warned, The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a complicated story (think Groundhog Day) and it took me a while to get my head around how it worked, but it was worth it in the end. Great characters. I enjoyed it a lot.

Hangman by Jack HeathHangman by Jack Heath

Regular readers will know how partial I am to juicy horror and gory crime, and Hangman looked smack in my zone. It certainly has elements of both horror and gory crime but… yikes! Sometimes this was even too much for me.

Fab read though. Great pacing and tantalising mystery and, despite his… um… interesting predilection, I couldn’t help admiring our icky hero.

Hangman is NOT for the fainthearted though. You have been warned.

The Woman Who Fooled the World by Nick Toscano and Beau DonellyThe Woman Who Fooled the World: Belle Gibson’s Cancer Con by Nick Toscano and Beau Donelly

Gawd, this book made me angry. Not because it was bad – it was fascinating, well-researched and well-written – and not all because of Gibson’s con. It was infuriating because of the people who enabled this farce and never questioned her story. Why the hell not? Blind Freddie could see her claims were bullshit.

Oops. I’m getting ranty-ragey so I’ll shut up now.

Then again…

For crying out loud, what the hell happened to our belief in science? Since when did someone with an aptitude for posting pretty, aspirational pictures on social media become more trustworthy than those with education, expertise and experience? Are we seriously that bloody shallow?

Grrrrrrr.

Maybe this is why I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. It triggers too many rages.

Good book though.

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris

I loved this. A very close second for my favourite read of the month.

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder has an autistic boy as the narrator and it’s hard not to want to compare the book to Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. There are similarities I think, but I read Haddon’s book so long ago it wouldn’t be fair to compare. All I know is that I loved both stories.

Very highly recommended.

Damn Fine Story by Chuck WendigDamn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig

One for the writers out there.

Like many authors, I have a decent library of writing craft books. Some are stuck at the back of the shelves, others are always within reach. Damn Fine Story will be an in-reach one.

This isn’t strictly a March read. I read it over a long period – months – but that’s not unusual for me with craft books. I find I miss too much of the good stuff if I try to gobble them down all at once. Either that, or I get information overload, develop terrible hang-ups or suffer plain old boredom. Much better to read them bit by bit.

My copy of Damn Fine Story looks a bit messy now that I’ve finished. It’s covered with sticky tags and pen marks where I’ve circled and ticked things, which is a good sign that I found it useful, with advice and tools I want to return to. The chapter on the building blocks of tension was particularly handy.

It also helps that Damn Fine Story is a fun read. Not something that can be said for a lot of craft books.

I found it very good. As with all how-to books, your mileage may vary.

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What were your favourite reads of March?

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My Favourite Reads

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads for February 2019!

February was mostly taken up reading books for the Romance Writers of America Rita Award but I still managed to squeeze in four off my to-be-read pile, and they were all beauties.

My favourite though was… 

Wicked Games by MJ Scott

Wicked Games by MJ ScottWicked Games is the first in MJ Scott’s new TechWitch series and I’m hanging out for the next. This had so much to love – big conflicts, romance, friendship, action and I really enjoyed the mix of high technology and magic. Maybe this isn’t unusual in the urban fantasy genre but for me the combination felt new and fresh.

Loved the characters, the setting was interesting, and I liked the spookiness and how dark the story got. I look forward to discovering where Maggie goes to next and how her relationship with magic and sexy Damon evolves.

Fab.

 

The Second Cure by Margaret MorganThe Second Cure by Margaret Morgan

Ooh, where do I start with The Second Cure? This has politics, science, religion and much more. Most of all it’s scary because it is so easy to imagine a scenario like this unfolding.

Great premise, good writing and likeable characters – even the baddies had their moments – made for a fascinating, page-turning journey.

Clever. Really clever. A book to make you think, and maybe fret a bit. Check it out.

 

Her Forgotten Lover's Heir by Annie WestHer Forgotten Lover’s Heir by Annie West

Annie never lets me down with her fabulous romances. Her Forgotten Lover’s Heir made me cry too. I adore books that do that. It’s why we read romance – to feel!

The amnesia trope is one I’ve always been a bit sceptical about, but Molly’s situation is very believable and I felt for her enormously as she tried to deal with her memory loss and find her way forward. Pietro was great too – a nice combination of sexy alpha hero, as you’d expect for a Harlequin Presents title, and deeply caring man who’s fallen in love without realising.

A lovely story with great chemistry between the hero and heroine.

 

Butterface by Avery FlynnButterface by Avery Flynn

Butterface is book one in Avery Flynn’s the Hartigans series and such a fun a story I gobbled it down.

Although scarred by school bullying, Gina is a strong character who’s accepted her not-so-pretty looks and is merrily living the life she wants. She’s smart and funny and has a bod to die for. I wish I could stretch like her! Ford is a gorgeous, if totally anal, cop. When these two a thrown together, first via a wedding “kiss-cam” then by other circumstances it’s kind of like beauty and the beast in reverse.

Great dialogue and a wonderful romance, and the families were a hoot!

 

What did you enjoy reading in February?

 

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My Favourite Reads of January 2019

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Welcome to the first My Favourite Reads for 2019!

I read some fabulous books in January. Only four for myself as late in the month my allocation of Romance Writers of America Rita Award books arrived, and I wanted to get started on them straight away.

No question as to what my favourite read was, and it’s…

December Park by Ronald Malfi

December Park by Robert Malfi

I read The Night Parade back in October 2017 (read my thoughts on that here) and meant to read December Park soon after, but like so many of my best laid book-plans that didn’t happen and it ended up taking me over a year to get there.

Usual thing – too many books, not enough reading time.

December Park was excellent. I love the way Malfi writes, he has a style that draws me deep into a story and unable to stop turning those pages. This is a long book – 700+ pages in paperback I believe – yet it flowed beautifully and never felt too long. Having a bunch of engaging and funny teenage boys enjoying summer adventures in a sleepy outer suburb the early 90s helps. He captures those hazy days and the emotions and dramas of adolescence perfectly. Except Harting Farms isn’t really a sleepy suburb and the days certainly aren’t all hazy. Children are going missing and when one turns up dead, the boys put themselves into the thick of the danger.

I’ve already bought Bone White, Malfi’s latest release, and I won’t be waiting a year before I read it either. The blurb sounds fab and Malfi is awesome.

Pay Me in Flesh by James Scott Bell

Pay Me in Flesh by James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is a well-known name in the writing world thanks to his workshops and books on writing. I own a few of his craft titles and find them both enlightening and entertaining, but it wasn’t until I read How to Write Pulp Fiction that I became interested in reading his fiction. In it, Bell uses a short story to demonstrate what he means by pulp fiction and it was so clever I wanted more.

Pay Me in Flesh is book one of a series with a fantastic premise: Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law, defends the creatures no other lawyer will touch… and longs to reclaim her real life. Yep, a zombie lawyer with, er, appetites.

It sounds bonkers and is, and I loved it. Fast, hugely entertaining, great characters and, yeah, he knows how to write pulp fiction. I had a ball with it. A word of warning: Pay Me in Flesh does have a few gross-out moments that made even me go ewwwww, but it’s a zombie story, some grossness is a given!

The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson

The Cowgirl by Anthea Hodgson

I adored Anthea’s debit novel The Drifter (which I raved about here) and have had The Cowgirl in my sights since. It was a gorgeous read with beautiful writing, an emotional storyline, a subtle but enjoyable romance and a strong message about moving on and living life.

I liked the dual timeline and how Deirdre’s backstory unfolded as we came to understand her more in the present, and I really like the metaphor of Barnaby the cockatoo. That was clever.

A great New Year read and a must for lovers of rural romance.

Breaking Good by Madeline Ash

Breaking Good by Madeline Ash

I’ve wanted to read Breaking Good since 2017, when it was a finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America Rita Award then went on to win a Romance Writers of Australia Ruby Award for best short romance. The idea of a hero with ADHD is an intriguing one and I was curious as to how that would work for a romance. Perfectly in the hands of Ash, as it turns out.

Breaking Good is a gorgeously written story that will reach deep into your heart and tug hard on your emotions. The characters are fabulous and it’s hard to resist a Byron Bay setting.

What were your favourite reads of January?

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My Favourite Reads of December 2018

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The Palace of Lost Memories and The Echo of Broken Dreams by CJ Archer

The Palace of Lost Memories by CJ Archer

I’ve been looking forward to CJ Archer’s new After the Rift series ever since she announced it and to my delight it exceeded expectations. I expected The Palace of Lost Memories to be good but this was in another class again. I think because it’s a bit darker. This is a world where even those you trust may not be who they seem.

There are so many questions about the King’s new palace and even more questions about those who staff it. Where did they come from? And where are their memories? These are puzzles that I’m sure will be slowly solved as the series progresses. In the meantime, we’re treated to smaller mysteries that are just as enjoyable. In The Palace of Lost Memories, it’s who poisoned the king’s favourite, while in The Echo of Broken Dreams it’s who is attacking palace maids, among other questions.

Love the heroine Josie, love the hero Hammer, and the minor characters are interesting and well crafted. As with all CJ Archer books the pacing was spot on.

I gobbled these down and now cannot wait for book 3.

A Baby In His In-Tray by Michelle Douglas

A Baby In His In-Tray by Michelle Douglas

This was hilarious, and I defy anyone not to at least smile at the early scenes with the baby. The poor heroine. The poor hero!

The premise of A Baby In His In-Tray is a beauty too. To help her twin sister Eliza, Liv agrees to impersonate her at work while Eliza sorts out a personal issue (I hope Michelle writes her story). With the boss Lord Sebastian Tyrell away, no one should be the wiser. Then Liv returns to her desk post-lunch and finds a baby on it with a note requesting that Sebastian sort it out. Liv has no choice but to call him and act as nanny while he returns. This does not make for a happy Liv!

The relationship between these two is wonderful, but as you’d expect from an excellent romance it’s not without its complications. For her sister’s sake, Liv must keep her true identity hidden, while Sebastian has his own issues thanks to an awful upbringing. Then there’s the question of who the baby’s mother is…

Huge fun.

The Million Pound Marriage Deal by Michelle Douglas

The Million Pound Marriage Deal by Michelle Douglas

The Million Pound Marriage Deal made me cry more than once, then smile at the end and feel a bit soppy, which is exactly what I want from a romance.

I really liked Sophie, she was a great heroine. That perfect combination of sass, smarts and vulnerability that she keeps well hidden. She’s the sort of capable, organised person you’d want on your side in a crisis, and I loved the way she handled the hero Will’s crotchety grandfather.

If you’re partial to a marriage of convenience story, you’ll love this one. I certainly did.

The Laird’s Christmas Kiss by Anna Campbell

The Laird’s Christmas Kiss by Anna Campbell

Ah, I do love me an Anna Campbell Christmas story. They are so much fun.

Elspeth is a smart as a whip wallflower who’s harboured a secret crush on rakish Brody for years. Deciding she’s had enough of this nonsense, Elspeth forces herself out of this hopeless and silly love, only for Brody to suddenly notice her in a major way. What follows is a gorgeous struggle between a young woman determined to keep her promise to herself and a man who, for once in his life, has only honourable intentions and can’t understand why the object of his affections won’t swoon at his feet. Then the family get involved…

An absolute delight and perfect for any season. And highlanders!

Read an excerpt from The Laird’s Christmas Kiss and more on Anna’s recent Teaser Tuesday.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

My second favourite read of December (or should that be third given CJ Archer took the top spot with two books?).

I’ve wanted to read Apple Tree Yard since its release back in 2013. In fact, I still have clippings of its newspaper reviews on my “want to read” pile so I wouldn’t forget about it. Which reminds me, I can chuck those now.

I adore books that make you feel anxious for the heroine (or hero) and Apple Tree Yard kept me in a state of constant worry. This is a combination of courtroom drama and the secret retelling of an affair. For some reason it reminded me a lot of Killing Me Softly by Nicci French even though they’re quite different stories. It’s that opening blast of attraction between strangers followed by out-of-character behaviour I suspect. That and the unsettling storylines.

Highly recommended and I hear the recently released TV series is excellent too.

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder

Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder

This came highly recommended by writing buddy Amy Andrews, who praised Snyder’s great voice and fresh story. I was a tad sceptical – bad boy bikers really aren’t my thing – but having read Tikka Chance on Me I can only agree. This was a whole lot of sexy fun, with a fantastic heroine and great banter. It’s also short and whizzes along. Perfect for an afternoon of fun. And you can pick it up for around a dollar on most ebook platforms.

What were your favourite reads of December?

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My Favourite Reads of November 2018

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Welcome to my favourite reads of November 2018.

Another mixed bag of fantasy, crime and, of course, romance. A girl needs her feels!

No question this month which was my favourite. Actually, let’s make that favourites because the honour goes to …

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoBardugo’s Grisha trilogy of Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising was my favourite read of 2014 and when Six of Crows first released I meant to jump on it. For some reason I didn’t and I’m not sure why. I have a feeling I read a preview of Six of Crows and was expecting one thing and got another. I had no problem this time round. I couldn’t put either Six of Crows or Crooked Kingdom down. They were amazing.

The plotting of these stories is extraordinary. Twist follows twist follows twist, and almost every one of them left me in a state of anxiety over the characters. So many challenges, most of them impossible, and yet the Six of Crows gang manage to fight and overcome them.

Then there are the characters, all so wonderfully done, with compelling backstories and motivations, and individual voices. If I weren’t so caught up in the story I would have taken notes on how Bardugo made them unique, sympathetic and admirable, even the ones that shouldn’t have been.

Loved these books. Just loved them. Can’t wait for more.

 

Elevation by Stephen KingElevation by Stephen King

Hmm. The first thought that springs to mind when I think about this book? It was short. Really short. By my guess, Elevation would be lucky to be 25,000 words (maybe even closer to 20,000 but as I said I’m guessing here) and most novels are around 90,000 or so, depending on genre, which means we’re talking short story/novella length.

Now I love a shorty, but I had no idea that Elevation was one when I went to grab it from my local discount store and was even more brain-fuddled when I couldn’t spot it on the shelves. We’re talking the new Stephen King here. It was in the catalogue. How could Elevation not be smack in my face? I can only guess it was something to do with its size versus its unappealing full-length price.

I still bought it because… Stephen King.

Anyway, it was a sweet book, reminding me a little bit of Insomnia, which is a favourite King of mine. A pleasant way to spend a weekend afternoon.

 

The Ash Doll by James HazelThe Ash Doll by James Hazel

I really enjoyed Hazel’s debut release The Mayfly (I talked about it here). It was a cracking read and left me eager for his next. The Ash Doll didn’t disappoint, with the same great pace and tension and a juicy dark plot. The Ash Doll’s lawyer hero Charlie Priest seems to find himself in messy cases, that’s for sure.

Great to see Priest’s work colleague Georgie Someday play such a starring role too. And the fish. Mustn’t forget the fish.

 

Circus Hearts - All the little Bones by Ellie MarneyCircus Hearts: All the little Bones by Ellie Marney

Now this was cool. Kinda like a running away to join the circus book but in this case the runaways are already performers – Sorsha is a trapeze artist while Colm is a strongman, and both are very good at their art.

Circus Hearts is a friends-to-lovers story as well as a coming of age tale and one I enjoyed a lot. The romance was lovely and I especially liked Marney’s portrayal of circus life.

I have plans to read book two in this three-book series over the Christmas break. I’m keen to see what happens to Fleur in Circus Hearts: All Fall Down.

 

Manhunting by Jennifer CrusieManhunting by Jennifer Crusie

This was a hoot of a book, with super-snappy dialogue and some very funny moments. I was glad I picked it up because it was perfect for my mood. I was after something easy and fun and feel-good, and Manhunting was all that and more.

This is only my second Jennifer Crusie – the first was Faking It – and I really should read more. I’ve lost count of the number of fellow authors who’ve recommended Welcome to Temptation, Bet Me and other much-adored titles in the Crusie backlist. Makes me feel left out.

 

What reads did you enjoy in November?

 

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My Favourite Reads of October 2018

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Welcome to my favourite reads for October.

An eclectic list of reads this month, ranging from horror to murder-mystery, time-travel and historical fiction.

Once again I found myself stumped over my favourite book for the month. Usually I do my best to choose but today I’m going to sit on the fence. They were all enjoyable reads. Whether they’ll be as enjoyable for you remains to be seen!

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi TaylorJust One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

What a blast of a book! Number 1 in The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series and totally bonkers but oh so much fun.

While not quite the same, Just One Damned Thing After Another reminded me a lot of The Extracted Trilogy by RR Haywood, which I also adored (and wrote about here). It has that same wonderfully madcap feel.

Expect adventure, history, infighting, outfighting, a touch of romance, eccentric characters, double-crossing, nutty situations and huge doses of humour.

Book 1 in The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series and if you love this one, there are plenty more to keep you going.

Darkbound by Michaelbrent CollingsDarkbound by Michaelbrent Collings

Darkbound is horror with a capital H. Six people get on a New York subway train but it soon becomes clear this isn’t any normal train and these sure aren’t normal people.

I really enjoyed Collings book The Deep (which I talked about here). It was fast-paced and fun, a fab combination of horror and humour, and excellent characterisation. Darkbound had its darkly humorous moments and great characters but focused more on the violence and gore. Not scary as such but definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The Word is Murder by Anthony HorowitzThe Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

Gah! I’m still on the fence with this one, which surprises me because I’ve loved Horowitz’s previous novels, especially his Sherlock Holmes books House of Silk and Moriarty.

Horowitz writes intriguing murders, as you’d expect from someone who created Foyle’s War and has written for Midsummer Murders, and he’s created another beauty here with the She planned her own funeral, but did she arrange her murder? premise. But The Word is Murder was strange in that Horowitz inserts himself as the main character and narrator. I found that aspect both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because I was intrigued by the idea and process from an author-y point of view, and frustrating because I didn’t like either the Horowitz character or Hawthorne, the detective he was following. Not liking the detective was fine but to not like Horowitz felt completely wrong!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate MortonThe Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

Morton has been an auto-buy author for me since her debut title The Shifting Fog (aka The House at Riverton). Naturally I snapped up The Clockmaker’s Daughter on release.

It’s another lovely fat book full of history, romance, intrigue and gorgeous writing. Morton is a master at creating atmosphere, especially the slightly creepy gothic feel I adore. There’s a lot going on in The Clockmaker’s Daughter, with multiple points of view told across multiple time settings, and several times I was left wondering how she would pull all the threads together. I knew she would, though. She’s Kate Morton!

Fab read but The Shifting Fog and The Distant Hours remain my favourites.

Greenlight by Benjamin StevensonGreenlight by Benjamin Stevenson

Regular My Favourite Reads readers know I’m partial to an Aussie crime novel or two. Even better, Greenlight is set in Hunter Valley wine country. How could a girl possibly resist? News has it that Greenlight has also sold into the US and UK, and is attracting a lot of attention from film and producers. I can understand why. This has hookiness written into its DNA and would make a cracking film or TV series.

Think thriller/crime with lots of plot twists and featuring a flawed hero who has an interesting personal story of his own. With its true-crime podcast/tv show hook, Greenlight’s premise is smack in the moment.

Playing By Her Rules by Amy AndrewsPlaying By Her Rules by Amy Andrews

Like every other Amy Andrews book I’ve read, this was a blast. Playing By Her Rules is a lovers reunited story featuring two very sexy, sassy and smart lead characters who spark off each other from the get-go. And the hero is a professional rugby player with a body that the heroine wants to lick harder than the world’s best icecream. We’re talking swoonland, my darlings. Swoonland.

The dialogue is fabulous, the sizzling slow-burn of Tanner and Matilda’s relationship delicious. Romance, fun and with plenty of awesomely written action and it’s not all on field. Oh, and the opening scene with the panties is brilliant.

The first in the six-book Sydney Smoke Rugby series. You’ll want them all.

What reads did you enjoy in October?

 

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My Favourite Reads of September 2018

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Welcome to My Favourite Reads of September 2018.

A pretty cool month’s reading for September, with a mix of old and new-to-me authors and reads from a couple of adored series. As always, it was hard to choose a favourite and I was very tempted to fence sit and choose none. But choose I will, and it’s…

Silk and Shadows by Mary Jo Putney

Silk and Shadows by Mary Jo PutneyI’ve wanted to read a Mary Jo Putney for a long time. She’s been recommended to me multiple times by author buddies and is a giant in the historical romance genre.

Oh, boy was this book a beauty. Not only was Silk and Shadows wonderfully written, the story had MEAT. I was amazed by the places it went. Pretty dark places too, and yet the central romance remained uplifting and hopeful.

Basically it’s a revenge novel. Our mysterious but charismatic hero Peregrine has one goal only, or he does until he meets clever Sara. Their relationship buzzes from the start, surprising them both and changing their life plans in huge ways.

Great characters and nicely twisty storyline that surprised and sometimes discomforted. Very enjoyable.

 

Scrublands by Chris HammerScrublands by Chris Hammer

Woah, did this have atmosphere, with the heat and hopelessness of the setting wrapping its cloying arms around me as I read.

Set in around a dying, drought-ravaged western Victorian town, Scrublands is more a why-dunnit than a who-dunnit. We know from the dramatic opening who the killer is, but it’s the why that makes this a compelling read. That and the characters. I thought they were really well done.

Journalist Martin Scarsden thinks he’s on an easy assignment, writing about how Riversend is coping a year on from the original shooting, but he soon discovers the town is full of secrets and more danger than he ever imagined.

We’re spoiled for choice with solid Aussie crime at the moment.

 

Fly by Demelza CarltonFly: Goose Girl Retold by Demelza Carlton

This is the second that I’ve read in Demelza Carlton’s retold fairy-tale series (my thoughts on Enchant here) and like the first it proved an entertaining read.

I don’t know why, but I expected an alpha hero in Fly and was delighted to find that Prince Yun was far from that. I don’t mind those kinds of heroes when they’re not being alpha-holes (as they’re sometimes nicknamed in Romanceland) but my heart will always tick faster for a beta. They’re just nicer! Yun was plenty brave though and a good match for our equally courageous heroine Ava.

Short, with plenty of action and a touch of violence, Fly gave a very pleasant afternoon’s reading.

 

The Ink Master’s Silence by CJ ArcherThe Ink Master’s Silence by CJ Archer

My second favourite read of the month, which is no surprise. Regular followers of My Favourite Reads already know I’m a huge CJ Archer fan and snatch up every new story on release. The storylines are full of intrigue and action, the characters wonderful, and I’m drawn into every story from the first page.

After the dramatic events of The Convent’s Secret I’ve been wondering where this series would head but if The Ink Master’s Silence is anything to go by it looks like there’s plenty of more drama for the Glass and Steele gang to be had.

The Palace of Lost Memories, the first book in CJ Archer’s new After the Rift series releases this week and it looks brilliant. Can’t wait!

 

The Italian’s Marriage Bargain by Annie WestThe Italian’s Marriage Bargain by Annie West

This series is such a godsend. Whenever I’m in one of those “I don’t know what to read” moods I know I can pick up one of Annie’s Hot Italian Nights novellas and be left very, very happy. For short reads they punch well above their weight in the emotion stakes.

The Italian’s Marriage Bargain is a lover’s reunited story, a trope I’m a bit of a sucker for. I like that Massima and Gina are married, although long separated. It’s harder to put a marriage back together I think – the stakes feel higher – and this gave the story extra intensity.

Look out for Book 8, Burning for the Italian. This one sounds HOT!

 

Picture Me and You by Susan SeyPicture Me and You: A Devil’s Kettle Romance by Susan Sey

I picked this up after a bunch of readers on the Australian Romance Readers Association loop raved about Susan Sey’s books.

If you like quirky, this one’s for you. But Picture Me and You is more than a quirky romance set in an insular, strangely named town. Like Silk and Shadows, Picture Me and You wanders into some deep territory. There’s grief, belonging, some serious family conflict and plenty more layering the story.

Picture Me and You is book one in the Devil’s Kettle series and currently available for free on Amazon. As is A Taste for Trouble, the first in the Blake Brothers Trilogy and which comes even more highly recommended. Guess I’ll have to try that one too!

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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My Favourite Reads of August 2018

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Welcome to my favourite reads of August.

Not a huge list this month but what reads they were! Each of them is highly recommended but my absolute favourite was

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

The Silent Companions by Laura PurcellThe Silent Companions is the best horror novel I’ve read in donkey’s. Damn clever and brilliantly creepy, and the Victorian time period is one I adore too.

Purcell knows exactly how to unsettle the reader and keep the tension rising. Our heroine Elsie is kept on her toes with the goings on at The Bridge, the ominous, isolated country house where she’s been sent to wait out her pregnancy and where her husband recently met his death. As for the ‘silent companions’, they were just plain scary.

Love, love, loved it. Purcell’s new one The Corset releases on September 20th. Gimme!

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin KwanCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I picked this up in ebook way back when it first released in Australia and though I tried a couple of times I just couldn’t get into it. That happens sometimes and is often a mood thing.

With the movie just released and looking like a blast I figured it was time to give Crazy Rich Asians another go, and this time I had a ball!

Completely over the top and great fun, with drama and fashion, romance and a LOT of food, Crazy Rich Asians was a satisfying read. The only thing that disappointed me was the end. It didn’t give me the closure I craved but I (kinda-sorta) forgive it because I believe this is the first in a trilogy.

Can’t wait to see the movie.

 

The Dark Before Dawn by Jaima FixsenThe Dark Before Dawn by Jaima Fixsen

Another historical read, this time in 1840s Vienna and featuring the cracking character of Kasper Stark, a secret police officer with a very big secret of his own.

From the setting to the murder-mystery to the romance, The Dark Before Dawn was very enjoyable. There are crosses and double crosses, fascinating characters, wealth and poverty, lots of drama and more than a bit of derring-do.

Huge fun, and if you hurry you can pick it up for under $2 on Kindle.

 

The Nowhere Child by Christian WhiteThe Nowhere Child by Christian White

Talk about unputdownable. The Nowhere Child was an excellent read from start to finish. Loved the twists, loved the concise writing, the small-town goldfish bowl and its social divisions, the split timelines, but most of all I loved Kim’s/Sammy’s bravery. She was cool.

Good stuff.

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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My Favourite Reads of July 2018

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Welcome to another friendly edition of My Favourite Reads.

Ooh, I read some cracking books in July. Without further ado, let’s see what they are.

My favourite was…

Return to Roseglen by Helene Young

Return to Roseglen by Helene YoungWith Return to Roseglen, Helene Young has moved away from the romantic suspense she’s renowned for and stepped seamlessly into women’s fiction. Now, women’s fic isn’t normally my thing. I enjoyed it when I was younger but not so much these days. I expected Return to Roseglen to be good – it’s a Helene Young book, after all – but it turned out more than good. It was fabulous!

There was so much I loved – the excellent writing, the vivid setting – but mostly I adored the characters (Ivy was brilliant, as was Georgina) and their all too believable family dramas. And there are plenty of those to be had in Return to Roseglen. Some of the elder abuse scenes had me seething. Our vulnerable elders should be protected not exploited, yet there are those in society who think nothing of taking advantage, and usually for no other reason than greed. The bastards. I’m glad Helene tackled such an important topic. It needs more airing.

Do yourself a favour and grab a copy of Return to Roseglen. Yes, I’m friends with Helene but I honestly loved this story and I think you will too.

 

Smoke and Iron by Rachel CaineSmoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Book 4 in the Great Library series and probably the best book since the first, which is saying something because every book has been fantastic.

Jess and the gang are in serious strife this time. It seems impossible that they won’t all be dead by the end, but our heroes and heroines are people of courage, brains and multiple talents. They’re book lovers. We expect no less!

Apparently, this is meant to be a 5 book series. If that’s true, then the next will be the final. I don’t even want to think about that. It’s too horrible. This series is the best.

 

Holly’s Heart by Fiona McArthurHolly’s Heart by Fiona McArthur

Holly’s Heart is book 4 in the Outback Brides series, which includes my own Elsa’s Stand.

This is such a sweet story. There’s nothing like the pain of unrequited love, and our hero Ben suffered badly in his youth when he fell for Holly. Now life has brought him back to Wirralong, grown up, a doctor with a newly established surgery, and looking to settle down to country life. Who should he find in town also? Yup, his Holly. And the attraction hasn’t faded a scrap.

A gentle and emotional second-chance romance.

 

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

A magical historical fantasy set in northern Russia, where winters are harsh, long and dangerous, and the locals hold on to their superstitions. Or they did until an ambitious and charismatic priest arrives and determines to change their ways.

The heroine of the story is Vasilisa and she’s a beauty. Wild, tough, stubborn and brave, she defies the priest and her step-mother, who want her married off and her strange talents out of sight. The villagers begin to think her a witch but this stubborn girl might be the only one who can save them.

I didn’t realise this is going to be a trilogy. Book two, The Girl in the Tower released recently and now I’m torn over whether to gobble that down straight away or wait until closer to the third book’s release. Decisions, decisions!

 

Inherited for the Royal Bed by Annie WestInherited for the Royal Bed by Annie West

What a premise! Sayid has only been sheikh a short while when he returns, exhausted, to his rooms to find he’s inherited not just a war-weary country but the former ruler’s young concubine.

Being a man of decency and honour and liking Lina’s fight, Sayid makes Lina his ward and sends the tempting girl away to receive the education she’d always dreamed of. Four years later, Lina returns and this time she’s all woman – smart, cultured and even more irresistible.

This was fun and emotional, and I loved it. As for the ending… wowsers!

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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My Favourite Reads of June 2018

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Welcome to the bookish joy that is My Favourite Reads. I didn’t get much reading done in June. We had visitors and lots of stuff going on, and that left little time for couch-potatoing or bed-lazing with a book.

The books I did complete were all beauties and, as is so often the case, choosing a favourite proved tricky. In the end, it was the old master who came out on top.

The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider by Stephen KingThe Outsider is one of the best King books I’ve read for a while, and that’s saying something because I pretty much enjoy all his books (except Duma Key – that one didn’t do it for me).

The suspense of the opening made my heart race, only for a shock plot twist to stop it completely and leave me wondering how the hell he was going to make the book work.

He did, of course. King’s a master storyteller.

Great premise, wonderful characters, plenty of tension and mystery, and a nice amount of icky horror. The pages (and there were a lot) flew by. Loved it.

 

Defy the Worlds by Claudia GrayDefy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

I adored Defy the Stars (which I talked about here) and have been hanging out for the second in the series. Defy the Worlds didn’t disappoint.

I love how Gray keeps raising the stakes. Just when you think our plucky heroine Noemi might catch a break, she’s put in even more peril. And Abel is so cleverly written. I’m amazed I believe in these two when one is basically a robot, but I can’t help it.

Ends on a doozy of a cliffhanger but I kind of expected that. Bring on book three!

 

Maggie's Run by Kelly HunterMaggie’s Run by Kelly Hunter, Belle’s Secret by Victoria Purman

Of course I’m going to be hugely biased about my Outback Brides buddies’ books, but it’s no lie to say these were terrific reads and you should all go buy the entire series right now.

Maggie’s Run proved a wonderful start to the series. It had all the emotion and snappy dialogue I expect from a Kelly Hunter book and don’t get me Belle's Secret by Victoria Purmanstarted on how sexy our hero Max is. My fingers are still itching to smooth his hair. I’m a terrible sucker for a hero who’s known the heroine for years and always shown protectiveness. It’s so romantic and Kelly pulls this off perfectly. Sighworthy.

Which is what Belle’s Secret was too. I loved the premise of this one – a runaway bride. But not any old runaway bride. Our Isabella just happens to be a marriage celebrant and skipping out on your new husband is not a good look. She has her reasons though. Except she married a special man, and Harry isn’t one to let go easily.

Yep, I have a vested interest but these books have all the feels. Grab your copies today!

 

What reads have you enjoyed lately?

 

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