Reading Highlights from 2018

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to write a 2018 Reading Highlights post… but maybe I will, after all. (I’ve just read over last year’s posts and they’re rather a nice record for me!)

I’ll keep this brief, though. Just one post. Probably.

The top three

Only three books got my top ranking (of 9/10) last year. Not sure if this is because I’m getting fussier, but I don’t think so…

I’m not writing reviews, because it’s too long since I’ve read them; but in order of reading, they are:

A Frost of Cares by Amy Rae Durreson

a-frost-of-caresLast year Spindrift, by the same author, was one of my favourites, so this year I served it up to my reading group for discussion. I think most of them liked it, although possibly not as much as me. Anyway, it prompted me to read A Frost of Cares, which is also a ghost story, although unrelated.

This one is about Luke, a military historian, hired to catalogue the archives of the (fictitious) Royal Military School of Medicine, housed in a seventeenth-century country mansion. But soon after settling into the old house, he hears strange noises and begins to suffer from terrible nightmares. Together with Jay, the ex-military caretaker, he tries to understand the mansion’s history in order to face down the angry spirit.

Oh my goodness, I loved A Frost of Cares even more! It’s written from Luke’s perspective some time later, with Jay peering over his shoulder and inserting comments… I seriously adored that device. It’s a lot more spooky than Spindrift too.

Unfortunately it’s not very long (only 138 pages), but there’s a lot packed into it nonetheless. It’s wonderful.

Band Sinister by K.J. Charles

band-sinisterK.J. Charles just keeps on delivering. Everything she writes is fantastic — well written, well researched, well plotted. Band Sinister is more or less an ode to Regency Romances a la Georgette Heyer — so of course I was always going to adore it.

Band Sinister is is about a genteel brother and sister, poor and keeping their heads down because of a family scandal, who come into contact with a notable rake and his house party of atheists. Of course they turn out to be charming, educated, wildly fascinating — and very attractive. Sir Philip (the rake) sets out to seduce Guy (the innocent country gentleman) with… outcomes.

It’s a delightful romp that’s more than mere froth, but keeps things light, romantic and fun.

Kip’s Monster by Harper Fox

kips-monsterHarper Fox is always an auto-buy for me (as is K.J. Charles above). I love her lyrical writing, the strong emotions on the page, the wonderful way she uses setting — in this case a camp for Loch Ness Monster hunters on the shores of Loch Ness. (Not that the individuals in question refer to Nessie as a “monster”.)

I admit I was a little unsure about this one at first… For starters, the title and cover sound and look like it could be a middle grade book. Not the case! I’m so glad I decided to trust in Ms Fox and click away…

Kip’s Monster is about Oz, who has dropped out of his engineering degree to support his grandmother and sister with an admin job, and Kip, the boyfriend Oz also discarded as part of his life reprioritisation when his father abandoned them. But Oz and Kip belong together, even if Kip is battling his own demons and seeking escape on the remote shores of Loch Ness.

There are a few twists and turns and many layers to Kip’s Monster. It’s a deeply emotional book, dealing with themes of parental abandonment, responsibility, and substance abuse in a beautiful way (but it could be a little triggery for some). Like many of Harper Fox’s works it veers a little into the mystical as well. But only a little.

Worthy mentions

In addition to the three mentioned above, I read plenty of other good stuff.

Josh Lanyon (another auto-buy author, who writes crime and mysteries) had several new releases. I’m also still working through Ms Lanyon’s extensive backlist, because they’re all awesome. I re-read several of her books as well. Titles I read for the first time include: Dark Horse, White Knight (two related novellas), Fair Chance (All’s Fair book 3), The Ghost had an Early Check-out, In Other Words… Murder (Holmes and Morarity book 4), The Magician Murders (The Art of Murder Book 3), M/M Mystery and Suspense Box Set (6 Novellas), Murder Takes the High Road, Point Blank: Five Dangerous Ground Novellas. Okay, that’s a lot! Obviously I can’t get enough of Josh Lanyon.

Megan Derr is an author whose books I encountered for the first time last year… Although that’s not strictly true, because I had one on my kindle for a year before I read it. This was The High King’s Golden Tongue (Tales of the High Court – book 1), which I adored. I then inhaled the next two in the series: The Pirate of Fathoms Deep and The Heart of the Lost Star. It might be evident from their titles that they’re fantasy — Huzzah! — albeit still in the M/M romance genre. But there’s plenty of non-romance plot in all three books, and it’s not too grim. There are also interesting things going on with gender roles.

Finally, I’ll just mention that I went on a bit of a Cornwall bender during September and October, in preparation for (and simultaneous with) my visit there. I had a delightful time re-reading some of Harper Fox’s books set in Cornwall — including Driftwood and the first few in the wonderful Tyack and Frayne series. I also dipped into Jay Northcote’s Rainbow Place series, and books by Garrett Leigh, J.L. Merrow and Alex Beecroft in the multi-author Porthkennack series from Dreamspinner Press. It definitely got me into the mood for Cornwall!

I’m going to leave it there for 2018. Apologies to the great books I haven’t mentioned — there were plenty of them.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me until the end of the post. I wish you all another fabulous year of wonderful books!

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