I have been crunching my way through (literally) hundreds of books since I last gave you the run down on some brilliant novels I’d read. (I have been rather lax about including all my reading matter in the ‘I’m reading’ section of this blog … sorry!)
So I figured it was about time I provided a few more recommendations; and was pleasantly surprised to realise while writing this, that they are ALL Australian authors – fabulous.
The first book I want to tell you about is The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
′Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine.′
So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she wakes up in a park in London surrounded by dead bodies, all of whom are wearing latex gloves. With no memory of who she is or how she got there, the only way she can discover her identity and escape those who want to destroy her is by following the instructions in a series of letters left behind by her former self.
Myfanwy (“rhymes with Tiffany”) learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in the Checquy, a secret government agency that protects the world against supernatural threats while keeping the ‘common people’ in the dark. In her mission to save herself and unmask a traitor, she must learn to harness her own rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability, and prevent a conspiracy more vast than she could ever have predicted.
When I started reading The Rook, my initial thoughts were … What the ???? – but I got into the story quickly – it’s an incredibly addictive read, and I really enjoyed this inventive and quirky book which is the debut novel for Daniel O’Malley.
The second is Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood
This is the 6th book in the Corinna Chapman series of mysteries. Corinna is a plus-size baker who runs ‘Heavenly Delights’, she lives in, and runs the bakery from ‘Insula’ a beautiful old Roman-style apartment building in the city centre in Melbourne. Along with her luscious partner Daniel, her apprentice baker Jason, Kylis & Goss – part time actresses who are also shop assistants at Heavenly Delights, and her black and white ‘gentleman’ tabby Horatio (oh, and don’t forget the ‘Mice Police’ who keep the bakery rodent free!), there is an eclectic set of residents in Insula, all of whom contribute to each story.
In Cooking the Books, Corinna is meant to be having a break during the Christmas holidays. Earthly Delights is closed, Jason has gone to Queensland to learn to surf, Kylie and Goss are auditioning for a soapie, so it should be easy for her to sit down and put her feet up, but … she’s bored. Scenting a whiff of danger, Corinna allows herself to be blackmailed by a catering friend to do the baking for the set of a new soap opera called ‘Kiss the Bride’ – the soapie in which Kylie and Goss have parts.
Each new Corinna Chapman mystery feels like an old friend – they’re amusing, well written books with a slight eccentric twist. As a Melburnian it’s brilliant to read about places I know and visit and it’s nice to read about characters who are (in the main) extremely likeable and without nasty traits. (Plus the food always sounds so yummy!)
The 5 earlier books in this series (in order of first to last are: Eathly Delights, Heavenly Pleasures, Devil’s Food, Trick or Treat, Forbidden Fruit, and then, of course, Cooking the Books.
The third book is The Festival by the Sea by June Loves.
This book continues on in the life of Gina Lauren who we met in The Shelly Beach Writers Group. In this first book Gina – a just-turned-50 corporate high flyer is counting her losses after being dumped by her husband for his PA; her company has gone ‘belly-up’, and her nearly published novel cancelled. However a chance meeting brings about a sea change – a job as a house/dog sitter – hmmm – actually that would be a very basic cottage in windy Shelley Beach! It initially seems the perfect opportunity to regroup (and maybe minimise her little ‘problem’ with the vino), however she hasn’t counted on getting involved with the locals. It’s a story of re-invention, and probably a good idea to read this book first as it gives you a better understanding of the characters (and why only read one great book, when you can read two!)
In The Festival by the Sea, Gina has her life back in control and she’s just had the offer of a brilliant job back in Sydney, but before she can take that fresh start she finds herself as a last minute fill in as director of the chaotic Shelly Beach Writers Festival. Gina negotiates her way through celebrity-author hissy fits, champagne galas, and a daily to do list which would have most mere mortals quaking in their espadrilles. The festival is a roaring success, but does she really want to leave Shelley Beach?
A funny, warm, feel-good read – highly recommended to lighten your day inbetween grisly murder novels.
OK – so time to grab a cuppa and a tim tam, switch the mobile to silent, pull the ottoman out, put your feet up, and get reading …. enjoy!