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My month in books – December

It’s the end of another month (how did that happen?). It’s been a busy time for me of late – not as much reading as I would hope.. but here are some thoughts on the books I have been reading.

A gripping read - recommended


Up Close – Henriette Gyland

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while.. again, in the interests of full disclosure, the author is a good friend of mine. We both like reading romantic suspense, and Henri also turned me on to some other authors I have thoroughly enjoyed. With history like that, I suspected her first novel would be right up my alley.

My love of with romantic suspense began with Victoria Holt – I so enjoyed the way the settings in her novels added to the tension… creating a brooding and dangerous atmosphere. And there were times you started to wonder if the hero was possibly the villain too. Up Close comes from the same place… the setting on the Norfolk Coast weaves an additional layer into the mystery that really kept me guessing… and yes, wondering about the hero.

Like most people, when I am reading any sort of a mystery, I try to figure out the solution. At one point I decided I had it. BUT – I was soon to  discover I was very wrong. I don’t put spoilers on this blog –  but let me just say the answer, when finally revealed, was the right one.

There’s another Henriette Gyland due for release in a few months – with the intriguing title of “The Elephant Girl”. I’ll certainly be at the head of the line for that one.


A Creed in Stone Creek – Linda Lael Miller

You can't go far wrong with handsome men in big hats and boots!

While living in the US and reading a lot of US authors, I confess I developed a taste for cowboy books … Contemporary cowboys – with big trucks as well as horses. Given my upbringing in the Aussie bush, and the sort of books and heroes I write – I guess this is not surprising.

Linda Lael Miller is one of the queens of cowboy books. This book is one of several series she has to her credit – many of which have topped the US bestseller lists.

First – I have to say the lady knows her stuff. The books give authentic descriptions of all things cowboy – from the smell of a sweaty horse (and rider) to the excitement of a rodeo. For someone like me, that authenticity is key.

Her heroes are great – larger than life and drop down dead gorgeous – but with a softer side, and very human flaws.

As an aside – her website has a fabulous video of how her cover shoots are done – featuring said gorgeous men in big hats and boots.

Don’t read one of her books looking for great literature – but do read them looking for fun.


One For The Money – Janet Ivanovitch

The series is popular - but not for me

I’m not quite sure why it took me this long to read one of the Stephanie Plum novels.

The 19th book in this popular series is about to be released – and presumably Janet Evanovich is working on number 20. There has also been a film.

This is the very beginning of the Stephanie Plum story – and it seemed a very good place to start (yes – I watched the Sound of Music a dozen times when I was a child).

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting – funny and sassy, I guess and that is what I got. It’s sort of Jersey Shore meets Moonlighting.

It was well written and fast paced – but the comedy was a bit slapstick for my taste. Maybe my newly rediscovered liking for dark romantic suspense combined with my penchant for crime and thrillers made this just too lightweight for me.

I’m probably not going to read the rest – but if you like your crime to be funny, and you like your comedy to be a bit slapstick – then this might be a good series for you.




Solo – Jack Higgins.

An interesting setting for a post-war thriller

Jack Higgins is probably best known for The Eagle Has Landed.. and in my head he’s very much associated with war books. I find them, a bit dated now… but picked Solo up as a change of pace.

It is a bit dated in writing style. There are pages and pages of backstory that a publisher today would turn down in an instant… BUT – the story is riveting.

This is one of those thrillers where you know almost from page one who the bad guy is… and the journey we take explains what made him a killer. It is also a journey through the mind of the man who will end the killings. The very dark story is woven through the unlikely setting of the concert stage.

I enjoyed it as a change from the at times homogenized world of more recent titles.



And the book of the month title goes to….

Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen

A fabulous read - but sad

This book was recommended to me ages ago by a circus performer… a trapeze artist – who said it was the most accurate description of circus life he had ever read.  That seemed a pretty strong recommendation.

The novel  is a love story set against the backdrop of a depression era travelling circus. It was hugely successful – and adapted into a film (which gives me a great excuse to post a shot of the very attractive Robert Pattinson who starred…

I finally got around to reading it – and loved it. I found it incredibly sad  – but incredibly beautiful.

My copy included historical photographs of depression era travelling circuses – but they weren’t needed. The descriptions in the book were highly evocative. The characters were very real… and there were times when I was close to tears.

OK – no spoilers about the ending, except…  Most people will assume a happy ending… which it does have… sort of.

Highly recommended… but keep the tissues handy.

The elephant was cute too.

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