I’m so very excited to share with you my top 30 books from this year that I want to shout from the rooftops about!
I think books recommended by others are the best kind of books so I hope that with this guide, you discover some authors that go on to become your favourites just like they’ve become mine! If you’re wondering where the books written by men are – I made a deliberate decision this year to read only books written by female writers for twelve months. And I’m the boss of me so I get to decide these things.
I used to read two books a week at the very least but I’ve slowed down lately and read fifty-nine this year (and started to read another handful that I couldn’t finish!) Last year I included all my four star and five star reads in my holiday reading guide, but this year I’ve gotten tougher and I’m sharing with you only the five star books.
I’ve listed the books by genre and with each title, I’ve added the link to my review as well as the Amazon link where you’ll find the blurb and the buy link to make the books super easy to purchase as an eBook today. Loads of these books are also available as paperbacks and you can have them delivered from Booktopia, Dymocks, Collins to name a few and you’ll find most of them on iBooks too.
So here it is, my ultimate holiday reading guide for 2016 - enjoy!
The Florentine Bridge – Vanessa Carnevale
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1836893140
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Florentine-Bridge-Vanessa-Carnevale/B01J2YK6QC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474294&sr=8-1&keywords=vanessa+carnevale
Mercy Street – Tess Evans
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/15584910
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Mercy-Street-Tess-Evans-ebook/dp/B01110WV4A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1456278878&sr=1-1&keywords=mercy+street+tess+evans
Making Headlines – Jennifer Hansen
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1549166199
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Making-Headlines-Jennifer-Hansen/B015MBSW10/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1481473519&sr=8-2&keywords=making+headlines
In the Quiet - Eliza Henry-Jones
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1779353670
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Quiet-Eliza-Henry-Jones/B00RSKZOVU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481473617&sr=8-1&keywords=in+the+quiet
The Drifter – Anthea Hodgson
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1839738070
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Drifter-Anthea-Hodgson/B01KIYDPPO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474550&sr=8-1&keywords=anthea+hodgson
The Art of Keeping Secrets - Rachael Johns
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1827872322
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Art-Keeping-Secrets-Rachael-Johns/B01E83Q5TO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481472098&sr=8-1&keywords=the+art+of+keeping+secrets+Rachael+johns
The Patterson Girls – Rachael Johns
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381867682
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Patterson-Girls-Rachael-Johns-ebook/dp/B00U21XUOA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1453249963&sr=1-1&keywords=the+patterson+girls
Missing You – Kylie Kaden
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1796432068
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Missing-You-Kylie-Kaden/B00NURN4HG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481472170&sr=8-1&keywords=missing+you+kylie+kaden
Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1721956529
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Big-Little-Lies-Liane-Moriarty/B00K2JH9ZS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481473674&sr=8-1&keywords=big+little+lies+liane+moriarty
The Fifth Letter – Nicola Moriarty
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1779346048
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Fifth-Letter-Nicola-Moriarty-ebook/B01M3UPO83/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481473739&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fifth+letter+nicola+moriarty
The Dangers of Truffle Hunting – Sunni Overend
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1821492579
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/The-Dangers-of-Truffle-Hunting/B01MQ3IHZM/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481473819&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=he+dangers+of+truffle+hunting
Evan and Darcy – Melanie Coles
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1752193640
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Evan-Darcy-Melanie-Coles/B01GF8N5Q6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474364&sr=8-1&keywords=melanie+coles
Don’t Mean a Thing (Got That Swing #1) – Renee Conoulty
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1836885427
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Dont-Mean-Thing-That-Swing-ebook/B01M4RFBS6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474422&sr=8-1&keywords=renee+conoulty
Click, Date, Repeat – KJ Farnham
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1595094931
Amazon blurb and buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Click-Date-Repeat-K-Farnham-ebook/dp/B00MXSLAJC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1460975665&sr=1-1&keywords=click+date+repeat
Feels Like Home – Lisa Ireland
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1526766844
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Feels-Like-Home-Lisa-Ireland-ebook/dp/B00X51KM5Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453901315&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+ireland
A Place to Stay – Jennie Jones
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1836902587
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Place-Stay-Rangelands-Book-ebook/B01M0DLWXZ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474698&sr=8-2&keywords=jennie+jones
Home to Bindarra Creek – Juanita Kees
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1839701228
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Home-Bindarra-Creek-Romance-Juanita-Kees/B018FP8OJK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474758&sr=8-1&keywords=home+to+bindarra+creek
Summers with Juliette – Emily Madden
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1488258193
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Summers-Juliette-Emily-Madden-ebook/dp/B00U21XULS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1456279064&sr=1-1&keywords=summers+with+juliette
The Vineyard in the Hills – Lily Malone
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1488675244
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Vineyard-Hills-Lily-Malone/B013UA1C2Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474899&sr=8-1&keywords=so+far+into+you
Borrowing Trouble – Mae Wood
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1752206022
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Borrowing-Trouble-Pig-Barley-Book-Wood-Mae/B013AR0QO4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474959&sr=8-3&keywords=mae+wood
Dual Time-Line Fiction (My FAVOURITE kind of story!)
The Dress – Kate Kerrigan
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1612925957
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Dress-Kate-Kerrigan-ebook/dp/B012LN0PX0/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1460975432&sr=1-4&keywords=kate+kerrigan
Recipes for a Perfect Marriage – Kate Kerrigan
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1535470250
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Recipes-Perfect-Marriage-Kate-Kerrigan-ebook/dp/B014T7FP1S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1454475318&sr=1-1&keywords=recipes+for+a+perfect+marriage
The Other Side of the Season – Jenn J McLeod
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1655749244
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Other-Side-Season-Seasons-Collection-Jenn-McLeod/B0167565GY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481473984&sr=8-1&keywords=the+other+side+of+the+season
Under the Spanish Stars – Alli Sinclair
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1531888549
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Under-Spanish-Stars-Alli-Sinclair-ebook/dp/B016NRW9NO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454226979&sr=8-1&keywords=under+the+spanish+stars
A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald – Natasha Lester
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1549019802
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Kiss-Mr-Fitzgerald-Natasha-Lester-ebook/dp/B0166ZKM3W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1456279185&sr=8-1&keywords=a+kiss+from+mr+fitzgerald
I am, I can, I will – Bianca Plunkett Gooley
I have no link to leave my review on as it isn’t on Amazon or Goodreads at the moment. But let me tell you, that if you or anybody you know has battled cancer – read this. JUST READ IT. I will feature it as a book of the month next year with lots more details and a full review. This is the only book in two years I sent to my publisher to read so that tells you how I feel about it.
Buy link: http://www.vividpublishing.com.au/iamicaniwill/
Afternoons in Ithaka – Spiri Tsintziras
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1779379152
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Afternoons-Ithaka-Spiri-Tsintziras/B00FOFP11Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481474148&sr=8-1&keywords=afternoons+in+ithaka
Ask Me Anything: (Heartfelt Answers to 65 Anonymous Questions from Teenage Girls) – Rebecca Sparrow
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1517326440
Amazon blurb and buy link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Ask-Me-Anything-heartfelt-questions-ebook/dp/B016HBWM8I
All That is Lost Between Us – Sara Foster
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1494387511
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/All-That-Lost-Between-Us-ebook/dp/B013CSCVJY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458295642&sr=8-1&keywords=all+that+is+lost+between+us
Who’s Afraid – Maria Lewis
My (daughter’s) review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1836018322
Amazon blurb and buy link: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/ebook/Whos-Afraid-Maria-Lewis/B01063XPSY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481475197&sr=8-1&keywords=who%27s+afraid
Lots of people reading this will know that Sara Foster is one of my closest author friends and my regular car-pool buddy. However, before you get cynical and think I’m just reviewing this book as a “look after yer mates” thing because you know how much I love Sara, let me tell you that I read and reviewed All that is Lost Between Us when I had only met Sara once! And I read it in one huge gulp and had no sleep. I reviewed Natasha Lester’s amazing brilliant masterpiece A KISS FROM FITZGERALD early in the year and I was certain that no other books would come near it, but since then it’s been given a damn good run for its money! I’ve been spoilt by great, great reads this year! And ALL THAT IS LOST BETWEEN US is right up there with A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD which is pretty lovely considering Sara and Natasha are close friends who critique each other’s work.
The lies we tell for love are the most dangerous of all.
Seventeen-year-old Georgia has a secret – one that is isolating her from everyone she loves. She is desperate to tell her best friend, but Sophia is ignoring her, and she doesn’t know why. Before she can find out, Sophia is left fighting for her life after a hit and run, with Georgia a traumatised witness.
As a school psychologist, Georgia’s mother Anya should be used to dealing with scared adolescents. However, it’s very different when the girl who needs help is your own child. Meanwhile, Georgia’s father is wracked with a guilt he can’t share; and when Zac, Georgia’s younger brother, stumbles on an unlikely truth, the family relationships really begin to unravel.
Georgia’s secret is about to go viral. And yet, it will be the stranger heading for the family home who will leave her running through the countryside into terrible danger. Can the Turner family rise above the lies they have told to betray or protect one another, in order to fight for what matters most of all?
Set against the stark, rugged beauty of England’s Lake District, All that is Lost Between Us is a timeless thriller with a modern twist.
‘Do yourself a favour. Read this book. Read all of Sara Foster’s books if you haven’t already. She’s one of those writers who delivers top-notch books but doesn’t make a huge fuss … but readers, she deserves that fuss. Her writing is excellent, her stories a thrill to read; she’s skilled at making multiple perspectives work, and the tension will keep the pages turning.’
Monique Mulligan, Write Note Reviews
A superbly written and thrilling read! This is the first Sara Foster novel I've read but I'll be hunting down her others. As a married mother of teenagers, I was completely convinced of the story and characters in All That is Lost Between Us and I was heavily invested in the outcome. Sara Foster cleverly got right inside the heads of each member of a nuclear family falling to bits thanks to the secrets they all kept from one another. The main mystery had me turning pages, the setting in the Lake District was almost a fifth protagonist, so well was it brought to life, the characters were achingly real and the writing simply beautiful. I gulped down this page turner. Five stars!
About Sara (Isn’t she STUNNING!!):
I live in Perth, Western Australia, with my husband and two young daughters.
Before I was a writer I worked as a book editor, at first in-house at HarperCollins UK and then freelance. I’ve edited and proofread well over 100 books, fiction and non-fiction, including novels by Paullina Simons, Kathryn Fox and Liane Moriarty.
My favourite authors include Maggie O’Farrell, Toni Morrison, Nicci French, Sara Gruen, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Wendy James, Kate Morton, Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.
My favourite books include The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton, and After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell. The list goes on and on.
My favourite poetry collection is The Self-Completing Tree by Dorothy Livesay.
I was one of the original editors of the Kids’ Night In book series, which has been raising money for War Child since 2003.
I’m very lucky to belong to a writers’ group that includes Amanda Curtin, Natasha Lester, Annabel Smith, Yvette Walker, Dawn Barker and Emma Chapman.
I’m a huge fan of dystopian fiction, and I’m studying the genre for my PhD at Curtin University. My favourites include The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, and Pure by Julianna Baggott.
As a kid, in addition to devouring Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton books, I loved the Sue Barton nurse stories and Gerald Durrell’s animal adventures. Later on I read everything written by the Brontes, and devoured the dark thrillers of Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike.
I was born and raised in England, but I’ve always had family connections to Australia, and we visited the east coast a few times during my childhood. My introduction to Australian literature was reading All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato, and after that I wanted to be Delie Gordon for quite a while. In 1999 I made sure I got to stand at the wheel of the Philadelphia paddle steamer when we visited the Murray River region.
My first pop concert, aged 12, was a Stock Aitken and Waterman event featuring my first love Jason Donovan. I was on a high for weeks afterwards. Little did I know that twenty years later I would end up editing his autobiography.
I love marine animals, and in the past (before children!) I have been a keen scuba diver. I’ve played with baby sea lions, penguins and marine iguanas in the Galapagos and scuba dived with Galapagos reef sharks and hammerhead sharks. I’ve glided with manta rays in Coral Bay (WA) and the Similan Islands in Thailand, encountered huge potato cod and graceful minke whales on the Great Barrier Reef, and swum with the mighty whale sharks of Ningaloo. I have experienced the absolute joy of being surrounded by wild dolphins in New Zealand and WA waters, and had the very special experience of a dolphin ‘buzzing’ me while I was pregnant (using concentrated echolocation to ‘see’ the baby).
In 2011 I went to Japan while researching Shallow Breath, and visited Taiji, the town famous for its horrific dolphin drives. I was only there for two days, and I didn’t have to witness the brutal hunt up close, although I watched the banger boats drive the dolphins in from a distance. However, I did encounter the dolphins in captivity in the sea pens, being broken and starved while trained for human entertainment. Those images will stay with me forever.
I met my husband Matt when I was nineteen. We both love to travel, and we tend to pick places where we can pursue our passions for animal encounters and the natural world. Our highlights include four months in South-East Asia, including chartering a tiny vessel to Komodo Island and staying amongst the dragons. We got engaged alone on an island full of monkeys in Halong Bay, Vietnam, and for our honeymoon we visited Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, the Galapagos Islands, and travelled into the heart of the Manu Biosphere of the Amazon to see everything from capybaras to caimans. Now our two girls are getting older, we are busy planning the next adventure.
If you want to connect with Sara or learn more about her and her books follow these links:
An Interview with Sara Foster:
Can you tell us briefly about your book?
All That is Lost Between Us is the story of the secrets and lies in a family drifting apart. Seventeen-year-old Georgia Turner has been hiding a huge secret from everyone she loves. Her passion for running is getting her through, until 48 hours before the biggest race of her life, when she’s the victim of a hit and run. In the aftermath her brother stumbles upon a hidden photo in her diary, and is unwittingly drawn into Georgia’s duplicity. Meanwhile, their parents Anya and Callum are desperate to help Georgia, despite problems of their own. It soon becomes clear that the Turner family are racing against time, battling their deceptions and mistrust of one another, in order to help Georgia before it’s too late.
Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
The novel is set in the Lake District, and the setting just came with the story. I had loved working with another beautiful English landscape – the North Yorkshire moors – when writing Beneath the Shadows, and so I was definitely looking for the chance to do something like that again. So many different aspects of the Lakes were drawn into the story of All That is Lost Between Us. The characters and the setting are inseparable.
How do you come up with character names?
Great question – sometimes with difficulty! Now and again I know what a character will be called straight away, but often I give them temporary names while I hunt for the right one. For main characters I always check the meanings and origins of the names I’m giving them. When I finally hit on the names I want, I know straight away – they feel right, they settle into the story like they belong there.
Do you write every day?
I’m afraid I don’t – and I always feel it’s a cardinal sin to admit this! It’s not possible at the moment, but when I’m not writing I’m always thinking about my stories. I probably think about them every hour of every day.
Do you take negative reviews of your book personally or do you shrug them off?
I don’t take negative reviews personally, because I have no idea of the different factors that caused people to write them. There are so many reasons for a review being negative. I know there are times I’ve not enjoyed stories that others have loved, either because they’re not the right stories for me, or just because of what’s happening in my life – tiredness, distraction, all sorts. Occasionally a review might sting depending on its context, but overall I can shrug them off. Worrying about them is wasted energy!
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
There are two things:
1. Inspiration. I love finding the next part of my plot, a new character, a different style of writing. I am addicted to the creativity!
2. Connecting with readers. I’ve had letters, comments and experiences that I will treasure forever.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you were published?
Writing and publishing are two very different things. Publishing is a complex industry that takes time to learn. To make the best decisions for your books, and to give your work the best shot at longevity, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the details of the publishing business. Remember you don’t have to say yes to everything.
Which books have made an impact on you and stayed with you long after you read them?
Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is my favourite suspense of all time. Her use of language to unsettle and intrigue is incredible. Toni Morrison’s Beloved took me to undiscovered places of raw pain and emotion, and made me wake up and think about the world, as did Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m in the middle of a book called The Queue by Egyptian writer Basma Abdel Aziz. I have had to put it down to edit my own book, and can’t wait to pick it up again and finish it. I’d describe it as dystopian allegory.
What was the first grown up novel you ever read and how did it shape you?
I’m not sure it’s strictly a grown-up novel (more early YA), but I read Robert Swindell’s Brother in the Land when I was a teen, and I was deeply affected by his descriptions of young people living in the aftermath of a nuclear bomb. It was one of the first times I’d read a hard-hitting, sickening scene of unimaginable horror, and I had a strong physical reaction. It magnified my appreciation of the power and possibilities of books many times over. It was a book that changed my life by forcing me to question my understanding of the world. All these years later, I can still remember how it made me feel as I first read it. How incredible is that.