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Seven Page-Turners You Could Read in a Weekend

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

By Emma Grey

There’s a magnet on my fridge in Australia from the New York Public Library with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” I bought it moments after drafting the opening lines of the novel that—fittingly, several years and eleven drafts later—would become The Last Love Note.

Writing this story of midlife second chances from the trenches of grief wasn’t just hard. It tore my heart out. I burnt the midnight oil, and it made me weep (and I don’t just mean during the structural edits, though that was hair-raising at times). But isn’t it a writer’s job to do the heavy lifting so the reader doesn’t have to?

As a busy single parent with a million things on my plate, I’m looking for love at first line when it comes to reading a book. I want to be swept away by authors who’ve worked hard to write books that almost read themselves.

Here are seven writers who make it look easy.

Katherine Center, author of Hello Stranger

New York Times bestselling novelist Katherine Center delivers another delicious romantic comedy in Hello Stranger. Her artistic protagonist is juggling a career highlight, family challenges, and a brain condition known as “face blindness.” This complex romantic novel tackles the thorny topics of grief and betrayal with sensitivity. It has us questioning much more than who will win out in the love triangle. We’re left examining how we see the world, other people, and ourselves.

Heart-melting with a high swoon factor!

Sally Hepworth, author of
Darling Girls

International bestselling Australian author Sally Hepworth has readers tearing breathlessly through her latest thriller, Darling Girls. Rescued from family tragedies and raised by a loving foster mother, sisters Jessica, Norah, and Alicia are given a second chance of a happy family life. But when a body is discovered under the home they grew up in, the foster sisters find themselves thrust into the spotlight as key witnesses. Or are they prime suspects?

Impossible to put down.

Kerryn Mayne, author of Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder

Bestselling Australian novelist Kerryn Mayne draws us into the organized world of school teacher Lenny Marks, who owns thirty-six copies of The Hobbit (arranged by height) and limits her wardrobe to four colors (previously counted as three, but the distinction between charcoal and gray was impossible to ignore). Lenny can’t recall what happened the day her mother left and her stepfather went to prison until a letter from the parole board arrives in the mail. When her desperate attempts to ignore it fail, Lenny starts to unravel. Worse, she starts to remember…

Suspenseful, chilling, charming. Lenny will warm and break your heart in equal measure.

Paige Toon, author of Seven Summers

Smash hit, bestselling author Paige Toon masterfully entwines two epic love stories in her irresistible romance, Seven Summers. For the six years since they were bound together in a devastating tragedy, Liv and Finn have kept their promise to reunite and spend the summer together, as long as they’re both still single. This seventh summer is different. Liv is drawn to a mysterious newcomer, Tom, who carries a secret of his own…

With every new title, Paige Toon makes us fall in love, shatters our hearts, and expertly pieces us back together again. Bravo!

Nina Campbell, author of Daughters of Eve

An unputdownable feminist revenge thriller that gripped me from the start. When a high-profile murder lands literally at her feet, Detective Emilia Hart sees a chance to expand her caseload beyond the endless succession of domestic violence matters she is forced to investigate. But this is no simple investigation.

Another body turns up, then another. Then more—a lot more. All men, all shot, with a similar MO. It’s not until a manifesto taking credit for the crimes is published by a group calling themselves “Daughters of Eve” that Hart confirms a link between the victims: all of them had been perpetrators themselves, committing crimes against women or children. Few had been charged with those crimes—and none convicted.

As panic sets in and chaos rules the streets, the police draw ever closer to the Daughters of Eve, but the serial killer continues to elude them. Again, Hart sees something that everyone else has missed. And what that is, she cannot believe.

A stunning debut—propulsive, addictive, electrifying.

Ruby Fox, author of Dead Famous

A high-profile journalist, a career headed for rock bottom, and the Hollywood murder mystery that could fix it all!

After she gets a story catastrophically wrong, celebrity columnist, Katherine ‘Kat’ Alley, is shipped off to Los Angeles and given one last chance. Her brief? A simple retrospective on Xander Hill, long-dead movie star and the victim of one of Hollywood’s most enduring murder mysteries. Kat has a better idea: solve the fifty-year-old cold case and resurrect her reputation.

But digging up the past unearths the last witness she expects (or wants): A witness who makes her question everything she believes about her job, herself, and the invisible line between this life and the next. The more Kat uncovers, the more she realizes that everyone in Hollywood has a secret and nothing is what it seems. Can she solve the mystery of who killed Xander Hill before time runs out?

Whip-smart, hilarious, and brimming with intrigue.

Michael Thompson, author of How to Be Remembered

The wildly original How to Be Remembered by Michael Thompson is currently being adapted into a feature film. On the same day every year, everyone around Tommy Llewellyn forgets he exists. He grows up enduring his own universal Reset. That is until something extraordinary happens: Tommy Llewellyn falls in love. Determined to finally carve out a life for himself and land the girl of his dreams, Tommy sets out on a mission to trick the Reset and be remembered. But legacies aren’t so easily won, and Tommy must figure out what’s more important–the things we leave behind or the people we bring along with us.

A unique, heart-wrenching debut.

Emma Grey is an acclaimed Australian journalist and young adult fiction writer. Her writing has appeared in The Age, Canberra Times, and Herald Sun. The Last Love Note is her debut adult novel. She lives in Canberra, Australia, with her family.