WHAT HAVE I BEEN READING #25?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve ended the day by reading in bed. Lately, it’s been a much-needed sink into bed and escape into someone else’s book – I’ve been caught up in my rewrites of Wherever You Go and doing a paid editing job.

Here are a few of the books I’ve been reading this month:

Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? Four boys confront the truth of their sexuality head on in a Western Australian country town, leading each one to contemplate life-changing choices and inevitable shock waves. Invisible Boys has a raw and tumultuous energy that leaps off the page. I’ve had teenage sons, I know how their energy can fill a space. Here it was, condensed, compacted… and wow.

The writing is assured, with all four voices coming across strongly, and a sense of authenticity that lifts a good story to a great one. Expect this book to get in your face like a teenage boy with no idea how to control his inner agony. It’s powerful and visceral, confronting (in language and premise) and gut wrenching by turn, but despite all that, read it … and listen to those voices.

Available from Fremantle Press (RRP $19.99), bookshops and online retailers.

The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes

An act of betrayal sends paediatrician Hayden Luschcombe to his childhood home, where old hurts and memories linger and two fractured hearts are slowly drawn together. A story of finding yourself and embracing the future, it was a truly enjoyable read. The Artisan Heart is gentle but with a firm edge – as warm and satisfying as the bread Bella (Hayden’s unexpected love interest) bakes. In formula, it’s easy to see where this romantic tale is going, but that didn’t detract from the pleasure of being taken along for the ride, and besides, that’s where I wanted it to go.

Mayes has a strength for describing food – I felt like I could smell Bella’s bread. I wanted to make my own and eat it as I read. There’s emotion and tension aplenty, and a terrific Aussie setting in a small town I hope to read more about. If you’re looking for a feelgood story, check this one out.

Published by Central Avenue Publishing, it’s available from online retailers or direct from the author. My copy was courtesy of the publisher on Netgalley.

The House of Brides by Jane Cockram

After her social media career implodes, influencer Miranda Courtenay has a choice: take the job her father has arranged for her and earn back her self-respect, or go to her mother’s ancestral home in Cornwall in response to a letter from a young cousin she doesn’t know. She chooses the latter, poses as the new nanny, and is soon caught up in a web of secrets and lies all linked to a her mother’s biography, ‘The House of Brides’.

I was immediately drawn in by the cover and blurb, which promised a modern-Gothic read. Seeded throughout with references to Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel, Rebecca, it’s clear du Maurier’s tale has influenced this newer story heavily, from the dour housekeeper, to the uncle named Max, and more. Rebecca is one of my favourite books, and tales of big houses and secrets are what I most love to read, so I had high hopes. I kept turning pages to see how everything was linked, but I was more invested in the storyline than the protagonist. I wanted to be enthralled, and I kept thinking of Rebecca, so this one didn’t hit my sweet spot. It might hit yours though.

Available from bookstores and online retailers (RRP $29.99 print). My copy was courtesy of HarperCollins on Netgalley.

Cross My Heart by Pamela Cook

I’ve been listening to Pamela Cook on the Writes4Women podcast for months, but this is the first book of hers I’ve read. And I think I’ve missed out, because Cross My Heart is a terrific read, with its small-town setting, on-point characterisation, and heartfelt premise. When Tess is made guardian of her late childhood friend’s ten-year-old daughter, Grace, she knows there are sacrifices and hardships ahead. But most important to her is Grace’s wellbeing, and together they embark on a journey that brings challenge, direction, hope, and answers.

What follows is a warmly engaging story of relationships in all their complexities, with plenty of light in the dark, and laughter among the tears. Skilled writing and a memorable story tells me Cook is an author to add to your contemporary fiction must-read list.

Available from online retailers and direct from the author. My copy was courtesy of the author.

The Assistant by S.K. Tremayne

Do you think Google or Facebook listens to you? The Assistant cleverly taps into speculation about this with a story of a woman convinced her home assistant (Electra) is listening to her. Even worse, Jo’s convinced Electra is telling her to do things … questionable things. Things that turn her friends against her. And then things start happening, and Jo’s life spins out of control and you have to keep turning the pages to find out who’s right, wrong, real and fake. It’s a tense and creepy ride!

If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, read this. And maybe switch off Google Home …

My copy was courtesy of HarperCollins on Netgalley.

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Have you read any of these books? Which ones?

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Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

2 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for your kind words Monique. The Artisan Heart was, perhaps, the most personal story I’ve ever written. I set it in a place that is very special to me and I tackled themes and situations of which I have some personal familiarity. I guess, in a way, the book was a means to help me face up to those personal experiences and process them in a literary form.

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