With another year of book-worming behind me, here’s my wrap up of my favourite reads from the different genres of books I read this year. I hope this list gives you inspiration for what to read next. Wishing you all happy holiday reading!
My number one book of 2018:
LOST FOR WORDS by Stephanie Butland
Pretty sure I don’t have a single friend left who I haven’t yelled at to read this. I found it when I was trawling through Perth’s beautiful second-hand bookshop, Elizabeth’s, and it’s set in a second-hand bookshop! Just read it. Read it!!
Compelling, irresistible, feel-good read. Perfect for fans of The Keeper of Lost Things and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
'Quirky, clever and unputdownable' Katie Fforde
'An exquisite story' Liz Fenwick
'Burns fiercely with love and hurt' Linda Green
'I cried like a motherf***er' Shelley Harris
'Intriguing and touching' SUNDAY EXPRESS
'An appealing character with a fascinating hinterland' DAILY MAIL
'A beautiful book' PRIMA
THIS BOOKSHOP KEEPS MANY SECRETS . . .
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge - the York book emporium where she works - come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can't hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?
It's time to turn the pages of her past . . .
Best contemporary general fiction:
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng
I grabbed this book when I heard that Reece Witherspoon bought the film rights and I’m so glad that I did. Completely gripping and emotional – just brilliant.
'Just read it...Outstanding' Matt Haig
'To say I love this book is an understatement...It moved me to tears' Reese Witherspoon
'Beautifully written, completely charming, and extremely wise on the subject of adolescence and influence' Nick Hornby
Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned - from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren - an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town - and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost...
Best Contemporary romance:
MISS YOU by Kate Eberlen
My friend, Steph Pegler, put this novel in my hands well over a year before I finally got around to reading it earlier this year. Anyone who loved ONE DAY, read this! In my opinion, better than ONE DAY. An amazing, amazing read.
Sometimes it's the people you miss who matter most.
"I couldn't put it down" Sophie Kinsella
"Funny, poignant and really rather lovely" Guardian
"I adored this book: wildly romantic, heart-achingly sad, warmly funny" Daily Mail
Tess and Gus are meant to be. They just haven't met properly yet. And perhaps they never will...
'Today is the first day of the rest of your life.'
That's what the plate in Tess's mum's kitchen says. And for a while, it seems like it might be true: Tess has just finished her A levels and is holidaying in Florence before going on to university and then Great Things. But that's before tragedy strikes.
For Gus, the tragedy has already happened. He and his parents have come to Florence to pretend they're a normal family, but they all know that's not true, and Gus can't wait to escape.
The first time Tess and Gus meet, they don't speak. The second time, they exchange nine words. The third time, three sentences.
Then they return to England and their separate worlds and that, as they say, is that. Or it would be -- except that the universe seems to have other ideas, even if neither Tess nor Gus realise it.
Best Rural romance:
TRUE BLUE by Sasha Wasley
I adored Sasha’s first book, DEAR BANJO so much I cover quoted for it. I didn’t think it was possible to love TRUE BLUE more, but I totally did. A passionate main character you will fall in love with and our beautiful Australian setting.
Love is random. Accidental. You just live your life and then one day it'll hit you with the right person.
Wandering soul Freya 'Free' Paterson has finally come back home. Idealistic and trusting, she's landed the job of her dreams working on an art project with the local school, but she hadn't planned on meeting the man of her dreams as well.
With his irresistible Irish accent, Constable Finn Kelly is everything Free wants - genuine, kind . . . and handsome as hell. He's also everything Free isn't - stable and dependable. Yet despite the passion simmering between them, he just wants to be friends. What is he trying to hide?
As Free throws herself into the challenges of her new job, fending off the unwelcome advances of a colleague and helping to save her beloved Herne River, Finn won't stay out of her way, or out of her heart.
But just when she needs him the most, will Finn reveal his true colours?
Best Young Adult:
P IS FOR PEARL by Eliza Henry Jones
Both my teenage daughter and I inhaled this book. Eliza Henry Jones is one of the most talented authors in Australia – her evocative style will tug at your heart strings.
'A POIGNANT READ BURSTING WITH HEARTACHE, GRIEF AND SMALL-TOWN FAMILY SECRETS THAT WILL DRAW YOU IN UNTIL THE FINAL PAGE'
- Gabrielle Tozer, award-winning author of The Intern, Faking It and Remind Me How This Ends
'P is for Pearl is a complex, authentic exploration of grief, friendship, mental illness, family and love, sensitively written by a writer whose voice will resonate with teen readers.' - Books+Publishing
Seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn P. Pearson has become very good at not thinking about the awful things that have happened to her family.
She has also become used to people talking about her dead mum. Or not talking about her and just looking at Gwen sympathetically.
And it's easy not to think about awful things when there are wild beaches to run along, best friends Loretta and Gordon to hang out with - and a stepbrother to take revenge on.
But following a strange disturbance at the cafe where she works, Gwen is forced to confront what happened to her family all those years ago. And she slowly comes to realise that people aren't as they first appear and that like her, everyone has a story to tell.
From the talented author of the celebrated novels In the Quiet and Ache comes a poignant and moving book that explores the stories we tell ourselves about our families, and what it means to belong.
Best historical fiction:
DEAR MRS BIRD by AJ Pearce
For a story based during World War Two, it’s remarkably uplifting, funny and sweet. Loved every page!
"The sweetest, most uplifting, lovely book about courage, friendship, love ... It'll be huge; it deserves to be" Marian Keyes, author of The Break
"If I had only known how much I was going to adore Dear Mrs. Bird, I wouldn't have gobbled it down all at once. Funny, fresh, and touching" Annie Barrows, author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
"A joy from start to finish. Dear Mrs Bird is as funny as it is heart-warming." John Boyne, author The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
"A joyfully uplifting and optimistic novel ... a timely story of courage and good humour in adversity." Observer
"Irresistibly charming and delightful" Kate Eberlen, author of Miss You
"An utterly charming story of friendship, heartbreak and heroism... You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll love it" Lucy Diamond
London, 1940. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance - but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman's Friend magazine.
Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. Emmy finds herself dismissing problems from lovelorn, grief-stricken and morally conflicted readers in favour of those who fear their ankles are unsightly or have trouble untangling lengths of wool. But soon the thought of desperate women going unanswered becomes too much to bear and Emmy decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .
Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to female friendship, Blitz spirit, the kindness of strangers and the art of letter-writing itself.
Best Literary Fiction:
DUSTFALL by Michelle Johnston
This novel haunted me for weeks after I finished reading it. Exquisite evocative writing. It’s a gem.
Dr Raymond Filigree, running away from a disastrous medical career, mistakes an unknown name on a map for the perfect refuge. He travels to the isolated town of Wittenoom and takes charge of its small hospital, a place where no previous doctor has managed to stay longer than an eye blink. Instead of settling into a quiet, solitary life, he discovers an asbestos mining corporation with no regard for the safety of its workers and no care for the truth.
Thirty years later, Dr Lou Fitzgerald stumbles across the abandoned Wittenoom Hospital. She, too, is a fugitive from a medical career toppled by a single error. Here she discovers faded letters and barely used medical equipment, and, slowly the story of the hospital’s tragic past comes to her.
Dustfall is the tale of the crashing consequences of medical error, the suffering caused by asbestos mining and the power of storytelling.
THE RUIN by Dervla McTiernan
I’m not normally a big fan of crime novels but I read this one because it was written by a local author. Wow! I absolutely adored it and will definitely be reading every other book Dervla writes.
The Top Ten fiction bestseller and critically acclaimed crime debut featuring everyone's favourite new detective, Cormac Reilly
'The Ruin is spectacularly good. So CONFIDENT ... excellently written and, at times, heartachingly sad' Marian Keyes
'Corruption, clandestine cover-ups and criminal conspiracy ... as moving as it is fast-paced' Val McDermid
'Dervla McTiernan's first novel outclasses some of the genre's stalwarts making her a crime writer to watch ... fans of Ian Rankin and Tana French will feel right at home' Bookseller + Publisher (4.5 stars)
Galway 1993: Young Garda Cormac Reilly is called to a scene he will never forget. Two silent, neglected children - fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack - are waiting for him at a crumbling country house. Upstairs, their mother lies dead.
Twenty years later, a body surfaces in the icy black waters of the River Corrib. At first it looks like an open-and-shut case, but then doubt is cast on the investigation's findings - and the integrity of the police. Cormac is thrown back into the cold case that has haunted him his entire career - what links the two deaths, two decades apart? As he navigates his way through police politics and the ghosts of the past, Detective Reilly uncovers shocking secrets and finds himself questioning who among his colleagues he can trust.
What really did happen in that house where he first met Maude and Jack? The Ruin draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can't - or won't.
Best Psychological thriller:
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by AJ Finn
I read this book in one night. Literally, quite literally, could not put it down. I think it was around three in the morning when I finally finished it and went to sleep!
THE NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
OVER 2 MILLION COPIES SOLD!
‘Astounding. Thrilling. Amazing’ Gillian Flynn
‘One of those rare books that really is unputdownable’ Stephen King
'Twisted to the power of max' Val McDermid
‘A dark, twisty confection’ Ruth Ware
What did she see?
It’s been ten months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something horrifying. Now she must uncover the truth about what really happened. But if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?
Best Magical realism:
THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS by Ruth Hogan
The most delightful story I have read in years. I was so captivated by this book, I wrote the author fan mail!
WINNER OF RICHARD AND JUDY AUTUMN BOOK CLUB 2017 - 'One of the most charming novels either of us has read. Don't lose it. Keep it' Richard & Judy*
*The perfect holiday read, recommended by thousands of readers*
*One of the Mail on Sunday's 'Best books for the beach this summer'*
'The first book I read in 2017 - and if another as good comes along in the next 12 months, I'll eat my special gold reviewing spectacles' Daily Mail
Meet the 'Keeper of Lost Things'...
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the 'Keeper of Lost Things' have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters...
FOUR RESPECTABLE LADIES SEEK PART-TIME HUSBAND by Barbara Toner
Hilarious and clever. I feel like this is the book Jane Austen would have written were she around today!
'Hilarious' Marie Claire
'A light, funny, warm-hearted read' Books + Publishing
'Laced with wry humour and a quirky style . . . it's a rollicking ride' The War Cry
A charming and witty novel, set in a small country town in 1919.
'When Adelaide Nightingale, Louisa Worthington, Maggie O'Connell and Pearl McCleary threw caution to the winds in the most brazen way imaginable, disgrace was bound to follow.'
It's September 1919. The war is over, and everyone who was going to die from the flu has done so. But there's a shortage of husbands and women in strife will flounder without a male to act on their behalf.
And in the southern New South Wales town of Prospect, four ladies bereft of men have problems that threaten to overwhelm them.
Beautiful Louisa Worthington, whose dashing husband died for King and Country, is being ruined by the debts he left behind.
Young Maggie O'Connell, who lost her mother in childbirth and her father to a redhead, is raising her two wayward brothers and fighting for land she can't prove is hers.
Adelaide Nightingale has a husband, but he's returned from the war in a rage and is refusing to tackle the thieving manager of their famous family store.
Pearl McCleary, Adelaide's new housekeeper, must find her missing fianc� before it's too late and someone dies.
Thank God these desperate ladies have a solution: a part-time husband who will rescue them all. To find him, they'll advertise. To afford him, they'll share . . .
Best Historical non-fiction
GIRT by David Hunt
Laughed till I cried reading this one. I actually had tears. And at the same time it’s educational, touching, profound. David Hunt should double as a stand-up comedian. This book is a laugh a minute.
Winner, 2014 Indie Award for Non-Fiction
Shortlisted, 2014 ABA Nielsen BookData Bookseller's Choice Award, 2014 NSW Premier's Literary Awards, 2014 Australian Book Industry Awards.
‘Girt … cuts an irreverent swath through the facts, fools, fantasies and frauds that made this country what it is today, hoisting sacred cows on their own petards and otherwise sawing the legs off Lady Macquarie’s chair. I was transported.’ —Shane Maloney, the Age Best Books of 2013
‘Girt is a ripping read… a humorous history that is accessible enough to share with the eight-year-old. Hunt’s writing interests span comedy, politics and history, a happy triumvirate when your subject is Australia.’ —Stephen Romei in the Australian
Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia...
In this hilarious history, David Hunt reveals the truth of Australia’s past, from megafauna to Macquarie – the cock-ups and curiosities, the forgotten eccentrics and Eureka moments that have made us who we are.
Girt introduces forgotten heroes like Mary McLoghlin, transported for the crime of “felony of sock”, and Trim the cat, who beat a French monkey to become the first animal to circumnavigate Australia. It recounts the misfortunes of the escaped Irish convicts who set out to walk from Sydney to China, guided only by a hand-drawn paper compass, and explains the role of the coconut in Australia’s only military coup.
Our nation’s beginnings are steeped in the strange, the ridiculous and the frankly bizarre. Girt proudly reclaims these stories for all of us.
Not to read it would be un-Australian.
ALWAYS ANOTHER COUNTRY by Sisonke Msimang
An incredibly moving life-story. I was blown away by Sisonke’s frank style, warmth, wisdom and humour.
‘Few of us have felt the grinding force of history as consciously or as constantly as Sisonke Msimang. Her story is a timely insight into a life in which the gap between the great world and the private realm is vanishingly narrow and it bears hard lessons about how fragile our hopes and dreams can be.' Tim Winton
‘Brutally and uncompromisingly honest, Sisonke’s beautifully crafted storytelling enriches the already extraordinary pool of young African women writers of our time.’ Graça Machel, Minister for Education and Culture of Mozambique
‘Msimang is a talented and passionate writer, one possessed of an acerbic intelligence…This memoir is also full of warmth and humour.’ Saturday Paper
‘Sisonke Msimang kindles a new fire in our store of memoir, a fire that will warm and singe and sear for a long, long while.’ Njabulo S. Ndebele, author The Cry of Winnie Mandela
'An excellent blend of both the personal and political…a bold memoir…a tale that will sustain itself for generations.’ Books & Publishing
If I were given five minutes with my younger self—that little girl who cried every time we had to leave for another country—I would hold her tight and not say a word. I would just be still and have her feel my beating heart, a thud to echo her own—a silent message that, no matter the outcome, she would survive and be stronger and happier than she might think as she stood at the threshold of each new home.
Sisonke Msimang was born in exile, the daughter of South African freedom fighters. Always Another Country is the story of a young girl’s path to womanhood—a journey that took her from Africa to America and back again, then on to a new home in Australia.
Frank, fierce and insightful, she reflects candidly on the abuse she suffered as a child, the naive, heady euphoria of returning at last to her parents’ homeland—and her disillusionment with present-day South Africa and its new elites. Sisonke Msimang is a bold new voice on feminism, race and politics—in her beloved South Africa, in Australia, and around the world.
NOTES ON A NERVOUS PLANET by Matt Haig
Last year, he wrote my favourite novel. This year, as I struggled with anxiety more than ever before, this book was the best medicine for me. It’s raw and real and so helpful for anyone who feels depressed or anxious.
THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
The world is messing with our minds.
Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.
– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?
After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the twenty-first century.
WORLDS OF YOU by Beau Taplin
I read this book last year but I took it away with me on the writers’ retreat that I ran in July of this year and enjoyed it even more this time around. It’s mature, sensitive poetry that speaks to my soul.
Extraordinary insights about love, loss and living.
Think of Beau Taplin as capturing the essence of love and heartbreak, challenges and paradoxes, yearning and fulfilment, and attaching that to magical, majestic life. Beautiful, inspiring and empowering, Beau Taplin's poems sweep readers away on a journey of emotion. When you need advice, wisdom, something for your soul, Beau offers insight and balm.
Best Children’s picture book
EVERY FAMILY IS DIFFERENT by Maureen Eppen, illustrated by Veronica Rooke
Nobody I am friends with has had a baby this year and not been bought this book by me. It’s one of the most gorgeous children’s books I’ve ever read and should be in every home to teach tolerance and love.
Who’s in your family? Some children live with their mum and dad, others live with their grandparents or foster parents. Some live in a big house, others live in a tiny apartment. With captivating illustrations, Every Family is Different celebrates what it means to be part of a family, and reminds us that there’s something that’s always the same in every family…
WELL READ COOKIES by Lauren Chater
A luscious book of delightful treats for anyone who loves stories and baking!
Curling up with a book was never so delicious.
This gorgeous, whimsical gift hardback celebrates the most beloved works of literature as beautiful iced biscuits, as featured on author Lauren Chater’s popular blog, The Well-Read Cookie.
With 60 biscuits photographed in full colour, accompanied by Lauren’s meditation on what inspired her to create each morsel of edible art, this collection is the perfect gift for passionate readers and bakers ready for their next book.
Feast your eyes on mouth-watering classics ranging from Mary Shelley and Jane Austen to Tolkien and F. Scott Fitzgerald, modern masterpieces by Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman and Alice Hoffman, beloved children’s tales by Dr Seuss, and Australian classics by Geraldine Brooks and Melissa Ashley.
With Well Read Cookies you can have your books and eat them too! It also includes cookie recipes and icing techniques for baking enthusiasts who can’t wait to make their own literary creations.
I love putting together my Ultimate Holiday Reading Guide! But I've noticed that each year I seem to get a little meaner (I blame it on old age grumpiness!) In 2015 my reading guide consisted of all the books I gave four and five stars to throughout the year, last year I narrowed it down to only the five star reads and this year I’ve narrowed it down further to just my top ten books of the year!
The two things that excite me the most about this list:
I hope you enjoy my mini features of these wonderful novels and that you’re tempted to read one that you haven’t tried yet over the summer holidays.
Here’s to more terrific stories to delight and entertain us in 2018!
1. HOW TO STOP TIME – Matt Haig
I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.
He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover - working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he'd never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.
The only thing Tom mustn't do is fall in love.
How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.
WHAT I THOUGHT:
I was drawn to this novel for two reasons, firstly I fell in love with the stunning cover and then two of the book reviewers whose opinions I highly value, Theresa Smith and Melissa Sargent, raved about it. It ended up being not just my favourite book of the year but one of my favourite books of all time. Every sentence in this novel is perfection. I put it down at least half a dozen times to marvel over a phrase before continuing with the story. Haig has created nothing short of a masterpiece, crafted with so many layers, I almost don’t know what to rave about – the tragic and triumphant story line, the characters that crawl under your skin and stay there for weeks after you finish reading it, the statement it makes about man’s inability to learn from the past, the humour (oh the humour!), the romance that will tear your heart in two, the brilliantly drawn relationships between parents and their children, the surprise guests that drop in to make you smile. I hear it’s being made into a movie and I can hardly wait! Just read it. Read it! And then come and fangirl with me about it.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/How-Stop-Time-Matt-Haig-ebook/B01N9PVQE4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510067226&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+stop+time
2. THE SHAPE OF US – Lisa Ireland
Four different women. The same big problem. One magical solution?
Despite excelling at university, Mezz has ended up the second-choice doctor in a two-doctor town, and won't be winning Mother of the Year any time soon. Miserably overweight, she knows it's only a matter of time until her gorgeous husband starts to stray...
Jewels runs a successful business and lives in her dream house. All she needs to make life complete is a baby. She'll do anything to lose weight and become a mother... just as soon as the Tim Tams are finished.
Ellie's life looks perfect on Facebook. But unlike the sunny snapshots, her world in Canberra is dull: she left everything behind in London, and the woman she sacrificed her life for is hardly ever home. Her ever-increasing waistline is testimony to just how small Ellie's life has become.
Kat's baby is her world. As a Bosnian refugee, she wants nothing more than a stable, happy life for Ami, but Kat's relationship with Ami's dad is collapsing. If she could just lose the 'baby weight' maybe Josh would look at her the way he used to.
When Mezz, Jewels, Ellie and Kat meet in an online weight-loss forum, a common goal accelerates their friendship. As the kilos start to disappear but their problems don't, they begin to realise that weight-loss might not be the key to happiness, but that supporting and believing in the ones you love, and yourself, just might be ...
WHAT I THOUGHT:
You won't find another Australian novel that captures the relationships women have with one another, their partners, their families and their own bodies with such raw truth as The Shape of Us. Equal parts heart breaking and inspiring, the inward struggle behind the outward struggle to lose weight and the toll it takes is beautifully explored. Lisa Ireland's writing is sensitive, bold, smart and so very courageous and her characters are utterly believable - not only that but they are also totally relatable. I could see parts of myself in all of these women. The ties that bind females together are strong and complex and Ireland goes deep in exploring them. It's a confronting story for anyone who has ever stood on a scale and felt worse about themselves than they did before they hopped on but it's also a triumphant one of love and loss in its many forms. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. Hands down the most convincing story I've read in years - nothing has hit as close to home for me as The Shape of Us has for as long as I can remember. Huge congratulations on a magnificent novel.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Shape-Us-Lisa-Ireland-ebook/B01N7QO40W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510066818&sr=1-1&keywords=the+shape+of+us
3. HATE IS SUCH A STRONG WORD – Sarah Ayoub
I hate being invisible.
I hate that I still can′t fight my own battles.
I hate that I can′t keep up with the demands of high school.
Sophie Kazzi is in Year 12 at an all-Lebanese, all-Catholic school where she is invisible, uncool and bored out of her brain. While she′s grown up surrounded by Lebanese friends, Lebanese neighbours and Lebanese shops, she knows there′s more to life than Samboosik and Baklawa, and she desperately wants to find it.
Unfortunately, her father has antiquated ideas about women, curfews and the Lebanese ′way′. Bad news for Sophie, who was hoping to spend Year 12 fitting in and having fun - not babysitting her four younger siblings, or studying for final exams that will land her in an Accounting course she has no interest in.
Just when it looks like Sophie′s year couldn′t get any more complicated, Shehadie Goldsmith arrives at school. With an Australian father and a Lebanese mother, he′s even more of a misfit than Sophie. And with his arrogant, questioning attitude, he also has a way of getting under her skin...
But when simmering cultural tensions erupt in violence, Sophie must make a choice that will threaten her family, friends and the cultural ties that have protected her all her life.
Are her hates and complaints worth it? Or will she let go ... and somehow find her place?
WHAT I THOUGHT:
I devoured this book in a single sitting - no toilet breaks! As a Middle-Eastern Christian girl growing up in Australia to immigrant parents, this story was achingly familiar to me. Sarah Ayoub perfectly captures the agony and ecstasy of growing up Arab-Australian. From the mouth-watering Mediterranean food, and the large warm loud know-it-all Arab community, to the sexism and injustice of having different rules to male siblings "because you're a daughter", from the angst of falling in love to the pain of being stifled by parents as you make the leap from adolescence to adulthood, Hate Is Such A Strong Word hits the right note with all of it. Told with warmth, empathy, wisdom, passion and lots and lots of humour, this is without doubt one of the most engaging, entertaining and poignant YA novels I've ever read. I've now ordered the print version and can't wait to share it with my teenage daughter to give her a deeper understanding of what life as a seventeen-year-old was like her mum! Bravo Sarah Ayoub, bravo!
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Hate-Such-Strong-Sarah-Ayoub-ebook/B00CLJE91Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510066674&sr=1-1&keywords=hate+is+such+a+strong+word
4. THE GOLDEN CHILD – Wendy James
Blogger Lizzy's life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness ...
Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth's clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.
This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Whip-smart, intriguing, shocking, addictive - this book made me wish I could ignore whatever work I had to do and just sit and read it from cover to cover. Wendy James' writing is superb, the characters are both detestable and vulnerable and incredibly well drawn and her social observations are spot on. The Golden Child blog posts were a brilliant concept and each one chilled me to the bone. A truly wonderful novel.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Golden-Child-sweetness-danger-bullying-ebook/B01M7SHOP9/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510066515&sr=1-1&keywords=the+golden+child+wendy
5. PAPER CHAINS – Nicola Moriarty
A heart-warming story of love, friendship and forgiveness - and the crazy twists of fate that shape our lives…
Hannah and India are new best friends. Although true friendship means always telling each other the truth, doesn’t it…?
Hannah, you see, is running from her life back in Sydney. Now in London, she’s trying to put the past behind her, and finding this amazing new friend is a positive step forward. If only she could stop punishing herself for what she did.
India knows Hannah is hiding something big, and she’s determined to figure it out. Fast.
Because India has a secret of her own… One that is currently sealed in a love letter that’s making its journey across Europe in the most unconventional way.
Before it reaches its destination, can India help Hannah learn to forgive herself? And will Hannah wake up and realise that India needs rescuing too …?
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Heartbreaking, uplifting, romantic, wise, achingly raw and utterly relatable, Paper Chains is one of the BEST books I have EVER read. Nicola Moriarty has a way of deceptively drawing you in, letting you think all is well and then pushing your heart through a meat grinder!
The novel I thought I was about to read was in no way the novel I ended up reading. It was far deeper and far more confronting than the light hearted cover or opening chapters let on.
The characters of Hannah and India and the respective men in their lives are incredibly well drawn and they will force you to care about them from the opening pages. The secrets they keep will break your heart and the beautiful ways that so many intricate layers of their lives are connected to each other will blow your mind. This is a clever, brave and beautiful book. Grab the man size tissues though, you're going to need them. Forget LOL this a COL (cry out loud) novel.
I simply adored it and can't recommend it highly enough!
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Paper-Chains-Nicola-Moriarty-ebook/B009OWNPSE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510066328&sr=1-1&keywords=paper+chains
6. THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT – Mae Wood
Life can change in a flash.
Marriage and a baby wasn’t Amy Forsythe’s college plan. After a shotgun marriage glued together by her son, she’s convinced that love isn’t meant for her. Now nearing forty and single for the first time since her senior prom, her friends are pushing her to date. Her teenager isn’t thrilled by the idea and neither is Amy.
Silver fox Thomas Popov isn’t looking for The One. He found her decades ago. And fell apart when she died. At fifty-three with a new job, a new city, and an empty nest, he’s focused on climbing the corporate ladder.
When a softball accident lands Thomas in Amy’s dental chair, sparks fly.
Lightning doesn’t strike twice. But love might.
This time is different.
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Mae Wood is my go-to author when I want a light read that’s guaranteed to make me happy. Nobody does sweet, sexy and smart with the aplomb that she does! My reading time is limited to a few pages before bed every night, my reading pile is a mile long, but somehow I have managed to read four Mae Wood books in the last two years and she’s the only author who I have read that much of, which speaks volumes about how much I love her writing. Wood’s books are the ultimate beach holiday reads and the best books to make you smile if you’ve just read something heavy or if life itself is heavy. This Time is Different is hands down my favourite book of hers, it’s warm and uplifting and fun and sweet and has a good dose of boom-chicka-boom! Read it and smile.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/This-Time-Different-Mae-Wood-ebook/B0768QCVBT/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510065705&sr=1-1&keywords=mae+wood
7. THE FIRST YEAR – Genevieve Gannon
The first year of marriage is hard no matter what. Throw in jealous exes, high-pressure careers and two wildly different families, and the degree of difficulty goes up a few more notches. Determined to beat the odds, one couple comes up with a plan to keep their romance alive - but life has other ideas.
Saskia is an up-and-coming jewellery designer, waiting tables at a trendy cafe to keep her fledgling company afloat. Andrew is a corporate lawyer who wants to be known for more than his family's money. They're passionate about their work and each other, but with Andy's job in jeopardy and Saskia's jewellery label taking off, the pressure is taking its toll.
As life pulls them in different directions, the two of them are forced to decide: Just how important is their marriage? And how hard are they willing to work to protect it?
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Genevieve Gannon keeps getting better and better. The First Year is a fly-on-the-wall examination of a young Melbourne couple as they navigate their first 365 days as husband and wife. The writing is wise, witty and warm, the observations sharp and humorous and it offers plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as well as plenty of food for thought. What makes a marriage work? Opposites attract but can that attraction override all the problems that arise from being so inherently different to one another? How important is sex to a marriage? How about money? What happens when a marriage is tested with a financial crisis? Gannon deftly slides from one point of view to the other, one plot twist to the next, from the equally alluring piazzas of classical Rome to the trendy eateries and designer boutiques in urban Melbourne, all the while skilfully keeping the reader guessing, 'Are they or aren't they meant to be together?' Gannon's voice is fresh, smart, sassy. Her relevant and raw portrayal of a less than perfect couple with the odds stacked against them, reminds me of David Nicholls' One Day.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/First-Year-Genevieve-Gannon-ebook/B01MXOUWM6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510065487&sr=1-1&keywords=genevieve+gannon
8. ACHE – Eliza Henry Jones
A year ago, a devastating bushfire ripped Annie's world apart - killing her grandmother, traumatising her young daughter and leaving her mother's home in the mountains half destroyed. Annie fled back to the city, but the mountain continues to haunt her. Now, drawn by a call for help from her uncle, she's going back to the place she loves most in the world, to try to heal herself, her marriage, her daughter and her mother.
A heart-wrenching, tender and lovely novel about loss, grief and regeneration, Ache is not only a story of how we can be broken, but how we can put ourselves back together.
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Once again Eliza Henry-Jones has left me in a dazed state after finishing another of her extraordinarily beautiful and moving novels. Ache is the most perfect title for this book - Annie aches for her past, she aches for her marriage, for new and old loves, for her young daughter, for her old home - but she mostly aches for herself and her own brokenness.
Henry-Jones has an exquisite way of making the reader feel while remaining unsentimental and non-melodramatic in her writing. The beauty is in how spare she is with her words, something I'm in awe of as a fellow writer. The attention to detail even with the spareness of words, still manages to take your breath away. She has a gift of drawing you right into each scene, into whoever's head she wants you to be in in that moment. The relationship between mother and daughter in particular is utterly heart-breaking. Somehow though, through tragedy and the grief that follows, Henry-Jones makes it okay and when you finish the story, it's the healing and the hope that stay with you.
Ache is literary yet still commercial, a love story but also a story about Australia, about the land and its inhabitants. It’s a masterpiece. Hats off from me.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Ache-Eliza-Henry-Jones-ebook/B01N00E90Z/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510065176&sr=1-1&keywords=ache
9. THINGS WE CANNOT SEE– Diane Maguire
Set on the magical coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula and inspired by true events, Things We Cannot See is Dianne Maguire's second domestic suspense novel - a compelling story of children and families, love and betrayal.
Laura Nesci has found her forever partner - until he leaves her for no apparent reason. It is only in the wake of a family tragedy and the unearthing of her husband's secret life that things fall into place, including Laura's burgeoning attraction for local artist Flynn. Fighting against the temptation of another possibly disastrous relationship, Laura channels her energies into her work as a victim support officer with the police.
Fifteen-year-old Alex is a girl with secrets. Her best friend Maddi believes it's wrong, but Alex knows that what she has with their science teacher is special. When Alex is attacked, Maddi and Laura become locked in a silent battle of wills: Laura suspects that Maddi is keeping secrets for her friend, and Maddi must decide whether to speak up or remain silent. But the final telling of Alex's deepest secret is met with shock and disbelief from everyone, including Laura, who thinks she has seen it all - until now.
WHAT I THOUGHT:
Another excellent absorbing read by Dianne Maguire which kept me up reading and had me guessing more than most other suspense novels. I'm one of those people who takes smug pride in figuring out the "who-dunnits" as early as I can in a novel, but this one humbled me. I kept changing my mind with every chapter! Not only is the suspense superb but Maguire has crafted a strong cast of characters, expertly voicing a wise woman in her sixties as well as a naive teenager. Her bad guys (a whole array of them in one form or another) are equally believable. I particularly enjoyed revisiting a character from Maguire's first book What Matters Most, that was a nice surprise.
The bright and beautiful Aussie coastal setting contrasts well with the eerie plot. There's also a slow burn romance, a good examination of modern family dynamics, and a disturbing exploration into how children are groomed and lured into abuse. It left me chilled but with great admiration for a fine story teller. With this second novel, Maguire has sealed her place as an author whose books I would buy automatically when they come out, without even knowing what they were about first.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Things-Cannot-See-Dianne-Maguire-ebook/B01KWMDFUM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510065010&sr=1-1&keywords=dianne+maguire
10. ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE – Gail Honeyman
Meet Eleanor Oliphant. She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully time-tabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
Then everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living--and it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
WHAT I THOUGHT:
A clever, hilarious, deeply touching story for anyone who loved The Rosie Project. I actually thought this book was even better that the Rosie books! Eleanor is a tragic and endlessly loveable character and this really was one of those books that had me laughing out loud in some parts and crying in others. It’s not at all mushy or overly sentimental, but it sure does pack a mighty punch - Eleanor’s story will break your heart and then mend it again. Eleanor is not fine. She’s far from fine. But Gail Honeyman is so completely fine that I’ll be rushing out to buy every book she ever writes from now on.
Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Eleanor-Oliphant-Completely-Fine-bestseller-ebook/B01MAYG70K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510064948&sr=8-1&keywords=eleanor+oliphant+is+completely+fine+by+gail+honeyman
That’s a wrap from me folks for my 2017 book recommendations!
See you next year for more reading adventures xx
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.
I hope you find inspiration for what to read next in my inaugural round up of the best of the best books that I’ve read and reviewed in 2015! I read nearly eighty books this year and out of those books, these are the ones I wanted to share with you. Look for the genres you love and for each book listed you can find my review and the Amazon buy link to make it easy peasy lemon squeezy for you to have enough books to see you through the holidays – enjoy!!
Escapades of a suburban school mum, no sexy shmexy here but lots and lots of guaranteed belly laughs. So far I’ve only read one Mummy Lit genre book but next year I’m scouting for more because I adored this one so much! Up and In was also picked as the stand out fiction book of 2015 by the “So What Are You Reading” team on their end of year video, so it’s not just me who is shouting about it.
Up and In – Deborah Disney
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1229044002
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Up-Deborah-Disney-ebook/dp/B00LZB9FFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446214589&sr=1-1&keywords=up+and+in
Romantic comedy books that will brighten any day with lots of laugh out loud moments. These are my go-to books to escape from reality when my reality is crazy-busy-stressed-out-mum-life. They’re also a great read after I’ve read a heavy book.
Dear Internet: It’s Me Avery – Jennifer Ammoscato
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1244506275
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Internet-Avery-Fowler-Book-ebook/dp/B00XNP1PLC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280772&sr=1-1&keywords=dear+internet+its+me+avery
Cocktails at Le Carmen – Isabelle Andover
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1306758177
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Cocktails-at-Carmen-Isabelle-Andover-ebook/dp/B00XZS6EAO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446215532&sr=1-1&keywords=cocktails+at+andover
The OMG Test – Pippa Franks
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381870103
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/OMG-Test-Pippa-Franks-ebook/dp/B00SXKFSZ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446215659&sr=1-1&keywords=the+OMG+pippa
Husband Hunters – Genevieve Gannon
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1414311432
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Husband-Hunters-Genevieve-Gannon-ebook/dp/B00MLLK8SA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446278368&sr=1-1&keywords=husband+hunters
Yes Chef – Lisa Joy
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1258766205
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Yes-Chef-Joy-Lisa-ebook/dp/B00LIQ9HP4/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1450520827&sr=1-2&keywords=yes+chef
Prosecco and Paparazzi (The Passport Book 1) – Celia Kennedy
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381870611
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Prosecco-Paparazzi-Passport-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0163F3BWO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446278426&sr=1-1&keywords=prosecco+and+paparazzi
Up To I Do – Samantha March
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381879431
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Up-I-Do-Samantha-March-ebook/dp/B012L6IP3E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1448849246&sr=1-1&keywords=Up+to+I+do
Confetti Confidential: They Do, I Don’t – Susan Murphy
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1229047556
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Confetti-Confidential-They-Do-Dont-ebook/dp/B00OFDQK5M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446278584&sr=1-1&keywords=they+do%2C+i+don%27t
Dating the Alphabet – Samantha Napier
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1229047162
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Dating-Alphabet-Samantha-Napier-ebook/dp/B00RKOJ9R4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446278674&sr=1-1&keywords=dating+the+alphabet
What’s it Gonna Be? – Cassandra Piat
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381888630
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Whats-gonna-romantic-comedy-Mauritius-ebook/dp/B00RABO7R4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446278751&sr=1-1&keywords=cassandra+piat
Have the tissues handy and be ready to have your heart strings tugged at. These books really moved me and it’s my favourite genre!
Outback Promise – Maggie Bilotho
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1414329205
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Outback-Promise-Maggie-Bolitho-ebook/dp/B013O98W6W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446278827&sr=1-1&keywords=outback+promise
Losing Kate – Kylie Kaden
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381863847
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Losing-Kate-Kylie-Kaden-ebook/dp/B00H30IZ7U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450520595&sr=8-1&keywords=Losing+kate
What Matters Most – Dianne Maguire
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1244261297
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/What-Matters-Most-Dianne-Maguire-ebook/dp/B00TNTXYK2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446278927&sr=1-1&keywords=dianne+maguire
Season of Shadow and Light – Jenn J Mc Leod
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1407990549
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Season-Shadow-Light-Seasons-Quartet-ebook/dp/B00S2SU5U2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446279029&sr=8-1&keywords=season+of+shadow+and+light
The Replacement Wife – Rowena Wiseman
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381864879
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Replacement-Wife-Rowena-Wiseman-ebook/dp/B00WDN9R24/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279706&sr=1-5&keywords=the+replacement+wife
Fall in love with these beautiful stories of the heart and you’ll also find yourself falling for the major swoon-worthy leading men. Even knowing there was bound to be a feel good romantic ending with these novels made no difference to how glued I was to discover the journey to happily ever after.
Down Outback Roads – Alissa Callen
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1318923494
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Down-Outback-Roads-Alissa-Callen-ebook/dp/B00IEM4Y2Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279110&sr=1-1&keywords=down+outback+roads
The House at the Bottom of the Hill – Jennie Jones
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1248240549
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/House-Bottom-Hill-Swallows-Fall-ebook/dp/B00PA4O4VM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279257&sr=1-1&keywords=the+house+at+the+bottom+of+the+hill
Fairway to Heaven – Lily Malone
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1248241758
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Fairway-Heaven-Lily-Malone-ebook/dp/B00TQIML4A/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279347&sr=1-1&keywords=fairway+to+heaven
A Leap in Time – Engy Albasel Neville
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1306760124
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Leap-Time-Travelers-Albasel-Neville-ebook/dp/B00OFBHICI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279463&sr=1-1&keywords=a+leap+in+time
Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm – Rebecca Raisin
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1248239944
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Maple-Syrup-Farm-Lifetime-ebook/dp/B00OQD8HNY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279549&sr=1-1&keywords=secrets+at+the+maple+syrup+farm
Luna Tango – Alli Sinclair
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1245156055
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com.au/Luna-Tango-Dance-Card-Book-ebook/dp/B00K5IZ4QW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279663&sr=1-1&keywords=luna+tango
Books that will keep you guessing and also have sexy sizzle or heartfelt romance in them too. These stories range from sweet romance to whoa baby and I loved them all!
A Pretty Mess – Carla Caruso
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1229045845
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Mess-Astonvale-novel-ebook/dp/B00KEZ7W0M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279786&sr=1-1&keywords=a+pretty+mess
Pieces of a Lie – Rowena Holloway
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381871458
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Pieces-Lie-Rowena-Holloway-ebook/dp/B00NXGIWEY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1449414219&sr=1-1&keywords=pieces+of+a+lie
The Trouble with Dying – Maggie Le Page
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1473164892
Amazon buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Dying-Maggie-Page-ebook/dp/B00QTAAGFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1450520727&sr=1-1&keywords=The+trouble+with+dying
Lethal in Love: Episode one – Michelle Somers
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1381873428
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Lethal-Love-Episode-Michelle-Somers-ebook/dp/B00UJ2UEJQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279857&sr=1-1&keywords=lethal+in+love+1
Risking Ruin - Mae Wood
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1244503406
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Risking-Ruin-Give-Memphis-Book-ebook/dp/B00PP6ZTA0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446279945&sr=1-1&keywords=risking+ruin
Not just for young adults. These incredibly talented authors can transcend generations! Moving and addictive reads that me and my daughter loved.
Don’t Call Me Kit Kat – KJ Farnham
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1244504924
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Call-Me-Kit-Kat-ebook/dp/B00XFKMG0O/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280023&sr=1-1&keywords=KJ+Farnham
Forget Me Not (Collective Series #1) – Stacey Nash
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1340727666
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Forget-Not-Collective-Stacey-Nash-ebook/dp/B00K1Q9NA6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280104&sr=1-1&keywords=forget+me+not+stacey+nash
Not my usual fare, I’m way too shallow for literary reads, but this page turner is one of my favourite books ever as in ever, ever – it’s Shakespeare like you have never seen him, so this book is defiantly sitting here as the sole representative of this genre. And it is brimming to the full with scandalous SEX so it's not at all slow or tiresome to read!! Next year two of my close friends are releasing historical fiction books so watch this space for more.
Shakespeare’s Will – Meredith Whitford
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1229054706
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Will-Meredith-Whitford-ebook/dp/B00C2TK2R8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280193&sr=1-1&keywords=meredith+whitford
Rock star reads
Sexy rock stars with attitude, clearly I have a thing for them, I’ve read books about three of them this year alone and I have two more waiting to be read in the New Year. Have to admit I love masculine rock stars with edge (hellooo Bruce Springsteen) and there are macho bad boys galore in these stories!
A Tide too High – Carole Brungar
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1318925741
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/tide-too-high-Carole-Brungar-ebook/dp/B00P5ZSESA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280275&sr=1-1&keywords=a+tide+too+high
Don’t Mention the Rock Star – Bree Darcy
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1229056569
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Mention-Rock-Star-Darcy-ebook/dp/B00P9T92ME/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280345&sr=1-1&keywords=bree+darcy
Summer Sky – Lisa Swallow
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1306760414
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Sky-Blue-Phoenix-Book-ebook/dp/B00JEYQIFY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280438&sr=1-1&keywords=summer+sky
Some spice and nice to hide from your grandmothers and your children. I’d never read erotica before this year, but after becoming friends with these beautiful ladies who write erotic fiction, I just had to give it a go (so much fun to read when you know the author!). I found these stories to be light-hearted, full of tongue-in-cheek humour and I read the naughtiest scenes out loud to my hubby who did not complain one little bit!
Loving Evie – Juanita Chavez
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1409823771
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Loving-Evie-Juanita-Chavez-ebook/dp/B01509EZ8S/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280505&sr=1-1&keywords=loving+evie
An Upside Down Christmas – Loretta Laird
My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1248835590
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Upside-Down-Christmas-Loretta-Laird-ebook/dp/B018T1L7OO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1449414388&sr=1-1&keywords=an+upside+down+christmas
Deep Heat – Selene Zanetti
My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1409828945
Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Heat-Spicy-romance-women-ebook/dp/B010MOYKX6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1446280667&sr=1-1&keywords=deep+heat+selene+zanetti
And that wraps up my first ever Tess Woods Ultimate Holiday Reading Guide! So what did you think? Have you found some inspiration for your summer reading (or winter reading for those of you on the other side of the world)? I look forward to showcasing more talented authors next year and finding great books for you to read. Judging by the titles on my reading list, it’s looking like a fantastic year of books in 2016! Happy holidays lovely people xx
I’m delighted to introduce the very gorgeous Engy Albasel Neville and her debut novel A Leap in Time. Most (if not all) authors have a reading list a mile long. Other authors read our books so we in turn read theirs so that as a community we’re supportive of each other. I’m no exception to this rule, I sometimes feel as though I need ten lives to get through my reading list. The last thing I need is more new books to read.
But when I saw A Leap in Time being promoted on some book blogs that I follow, I just had to buy it! In 2015 it’s the only book I’ve bought purely because I wanted to for my own reading pleasure, without knowing the author. The premise of a love story set between modern day Los Angeles and ancient Pompeii was too good to pass up. I’d been to Pompeii and the ruins of this amazing city fascinated me, so of course a time travel love story set there grabbed my attention.
Not only did I buy the book but it jumped straight to the top of my reading list ahead of all the books that were patiently waiting their turn. And I wasn’t disappointed. I was drawn to Engy’s sweet and emotional writing style and then I was drawn to Engy herself when I got to know her afterwards – she’s a true kindred spirit and has become a very close and treasured friend.
I hope you love A Leap in Time as much as I did. I kept waiting for horrific things to happen to the characters I loved, with it being set in Pompeii and all, but it was just the most beautiful sweet read with no gory bits!
Here is the Amazon blurb of A Leap in Time, followed by my review of the book, a bit about Engy and my interview with her.
You can learn more about Engy by visiting her website http://www.engyalbaselneville.com/ and her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EngyAlbaselNeville?fref=ts
The morning after hanging an antique painting, Lexi Carter notices strange noises in her living room. Scared beyond words, she confronts the sounds only to discover that the landscape itself has come alive. Did Roman soldiers on horseback just gallop across the thing?
She impulsively touches the painting and is sucked into the world of ancient Pompeii. Lexi meets Marcus, a Roman Adonis, who occupies her every thought, and sends her senses into a tailspin.
The year is 59AD and Pompeii is at its peak of glory and prosperity. Lexi is faced with the decision of choosing between two worlds, her modern day Los Angeles or ancient Pompeii…with the man who captured her heart and soul.
My review of this book:
What a lovely, lovely story! From the first page I was hooked and needed to know how the story would end. This book shot straight up my reading pile when I saw it featured on book review sites because I was intrigued by the premise of a time travel storyline involving Pompeii where I visited last year. And Engy Albasel Neville didn't disappoint me by very cleverly bringing Pompeii to life in all its splendour. The main characters Lexi and Marcus are just beautiful inside and out and their emotional and brave journey had me cheering them on. Loved the setting, loved all the characters, loved the ending and can't wait to read the next book in this series!
About Engy Albasel Neville:
Engy Albasel Neville was born in Lod, Israel and grew up in Riverside, CA. Engy and her two younger brothers were raised in an Arab household infused with American culture, music, and food.
Even at a young age Engy enjoyed writing in all forms, although creative writing is where she flourished. Engy attended the University of LaVerne in Southern California, where she majored in Broadcasting and became a member of Sigma Kappa sorority, an organization she continues to hold near and dear.
Engy landed her first job in Los Angeles in the entertainment industry where she got her first taste of working with celebrities, coordinating red carpet events and overseeing press needs. Over the next decade, Engy worked across various sectors of brand management, leaving behind the glitz and glamour of “the biz”, although its imprint stayed with her enough to influence her debut novel.
Engy actually started writing A Leap In Time a few years after graduation. But for some reason, the timing for completing her novel was off. It wasn’t until she married her long-term boyfriend, Brian that the pieces began to fall into place. While honeymooning in Italy, they made a life-changing detour to Pompeii. A Leap In Timewas originally set in England during the Jane Austen era, but Engy felt an immediate magnetic attraction to Pompeii and knew without a doubt that it needed to be the focus of her story.
Engy lives with her husband, two active toddlers, and super hyper dog on Long Island, NY. She is currently working on the second novel in The Travelers series.
An interview with Engy Albasel Neville:
Tell us about your book:
A Leap In Time is a time travel romance set in ancient Pompeii (59 AD) and modern day Los Angeles.
Lexi Carter, the heroine in the story discovers a time travel portal disguised as painting of Pompeii. She’s freaked out as most of us would be but soon learns that time portals are not as uncommon as people thought and that. A gifted few are granted the gift of traveling to other worlds and she was one of the chosen travelers. Unable to resist the intrigue and adventure, Lexi takes a leap of faith and ventures to a world known best in modern day history books.
Pompeii doesn’t disappoint from culture to the sophisticated infrastructure and architecture. Lexi is drawn to the historical city immediately, feeling that somehow she belongs there. Enter Marcus, a wealthy Roman Adonis that captures Lexi’s heart and soul, defying any logic.
As Lexi becomes more attached to Pompeii and Marcus, she must choose between the two worlds.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on Loved In Time, the working title for the sequel of A Leap In Time. I had finished the sequel some time back and after much thought, I decided to revisit it and change some major plot ideas that include a few complications to the storyline and some challenges to the characters. Although it’s taken me a bit longer to wrap up the sequel, I know in my heart the story is stronger because of the revisions.
What do you love most about your main character?
I’ve loved Lexi Carter from the moment she spoke to me over a decade ago. She’s the girl next door at first sight but more than that below the surface. She’s an adventurer with a rooted sense of herself, a loyal friend and a compassionate human being that genuinely cares about the greater good than self-serving benefits. When her character began to take shape in my mind, her energy felt restless to me because on some level she wasn’t satisfied with status quo of working and socializing. Deep in her bones, she felt there was more to life than met the eye. Maybe it was a connection with worlds past or even the possibility of having past lives. When the enchanted portal chose her as a traveler, she felt it was a nod from the Universe confirming her intuition and therefore, it was her responsibility to give back somehow.
What is your writing routine like?
I write every single day. Some days, I’m lucky enough to be in the writing zone and I’m able to write for hours without stop. Other days I struggle with finding the words to express the storyline weaving in my head. Regardless of the kind of day I’m having, I make sure to write every day even if it’s just an hour.
Why do you write?
I love to write and have always found writing to be a wonderful creative outlet and release. When I’m writing, I feel a deep sense of calm that helps me stay grounded and connected to my inner higher self.
How do you beat writer’s block?
Writers block is every author’s worst enemy and we’ve all experienced it. Some authors believe that if you continue to write in spite of it, you’ll push through the difficult part and eventually get past whatever hurdle was causing the block. That method has never worked for me. Instead, I walk away from my laptop. Being a lover of nature, I draw energy and inspiration from being outside whether that’s in my garden or a nearby pond, hiking trail or park. I just know that I need to be outside. More often than not, whatever was blocking my creative flow is squashed during my outdoors escape.
Are you big on research? Tell us how you researched the book.
For A Leap In Time, I immersed myself in books, movies, visits to the museum, online research and even a trip to Pompeii. Visiting Pompeii in person while on our honeymoon is what actually began my obsession with the historical city buried in ash. I loved Pompeii and like Lexi, I felt an unexplainable connection to the city, the culture and way of life. Research is high on my list.
If you could be any fictional character for a day, who would you choose?
If I could be a fictional character for one day, I would be Lexi Carter, my adventurous heroine from A Leap In Time. The idea of time traveling to another world for a day sounds incredible.
What is your favourite motivational quote?
My favorite motivational quote is by Maya Angelou: ““I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
Describe your dream writing office.
My dream office is airy with lots of windows overlooking a beautiful quaint garden and the ocean just beyond it. I’m a lover of nature. The sounds and smells of a garden … a beach … chirping birds … give me such peace of mind and inner calm.