Books that made me go wow in 2016


I’ve had a great year of book reading and would like to share a few books that I’ve read this year that to me gave me the ‘wow’ factor.  A few of the books I have chosen stretched my reading and took me out of my comfort zone but I was so pleased that I trusted in the publishers and authors to open my eyes to new words.

I would like to say a big thank you to all the publishers and authors who kindly sent their books for me to voluntarily review.  I’ve also purchased a fair few books this year there have been so many great new releases that I’ve been excited to add to my TBR pile.  One of these days I will get to the bottom of this pile, or maybe not!?  I’d also like to add my thanks to the great book blogging community.  It is a wonderful arena of likeminded people sharing the love of books and reading and the support is amazing, thank you all 🙂

the ballroom
The Ballroom by Anna Hope

“This was a truly beautiful love story, a unique one, one that I’ll never forget. I was totally heartbroken at the end and couldn’t control my emotions. A stunning, poignant story that left me shattered with emotions. I’m expecting The Ballroom to be a huge success for Anna Hope, this story is just beautiful.”


Dear Dad by Giselle Greendear dad

“This was a beautiful story, well written dealing with some difficult subjects. Although the storyline was very raw and emotive at times the underlining current was heartwarming, inspiring and full of hope.”

the curious charms of arthur pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

“This was such a remarkable story and has been one of my favourite reads so far this year. I believe it would make a great movie and would love to see the actor Bill Nighy play the character of Arthur.  A wonderful, charming, quirky, life affirming story.”


Valentina by SE Lynesvalentina

“The story takes lots of twists and turns that keep you gripped and guessing to the very end. To read a book in a genre I don’t normally read and to be gripped by the complexities of the characters and storyline is the sign of a great author. A very promising start to a debut author’s career. I’m so pleased I stepped out of my comfort zone.”

sunshine over wildflower cottage

Sunshine over Wildflower Cottage by Milly Johnson

This was such a wonderful feel good story about love, loss, friendships, new beginnings with a touch of magic and mystery. From the first sight of the sunny, gorgeous illustrations on the cover of this novel you can expect an equally delightful read. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Milly’s previous books and this book was just as good, if not better, than her others.”

valley of the dolls

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

“Just as the young stars were drawn to drink and drugs I felt myself as a reader ‘drugged’ by the words on the pages. I couldn’t get enough. I was eager to know what happened next. On the one hand Valley of the Dolls was shocking, tragic and heart breaking BUT on the other it was also glamorous, sexy and very indulgent!”

devastation road

Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt

“This was a very poignant, engaging read that throws no punches and shows the raw side of people trying to survive a war that has shaken the world to it’s core. Jason Hewitt manages to open your eyes and feel the hidden sights and sounds in a landscape torn apart. Such a horrific time for all but humanity remained and the tender, heartrending moments felt more intense. This is a story that I won’t forget in a long time.”

late summer in the vineyard

Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas

“This story was so beautiful and warm hearted however, there were some quite poignant, tender moments that took over my emotions. The author was so detailed with her descriptions of the setting, the vineyards, the food I was enthralled throughout. With chemistry sizzling between several characters the story was given even more charming moments. When I finished this gorgeous novel I wanted to go back to the beginning and read it all over again. A warm and welcoming read with enough depth and sparkle to leave you hungry and thirsty for more.”


Somebody Else’s Boy by Jo Bartlett

“Jo Bartlett has written a wonderful tale set around an idyllic coastal bay in the south of England with characters that are easily relatable and you find yourself loving as each page is read. I instantly fell for little Toby. This story subtly deals with grief, loss, betrayal, abuse, new beginnings all with such a warmth that you get enveloped in the emotions the characters are feeling but you don’t feel depressed … a story with hope and strength emanating from new beginnings mixed with a big dose of love.”

Moondance by Diane Chandlermoondance

“I’ve never read a story based around IVF before and initially you would imagine it to be quite depressing but Moondance was an altogether different story. Diane Chandler has created a masterpiece in wrapping a highly sensitive, emotive storyline with scenes of warmth and humour. This raw, honest story will tug at your heart and will never leave your mind.”


The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer

“This was such an epic story that sent my emotions soaring high and dramatically cascading low. I was enchanted by the author Lesley Downer’s beautiful words describing a colourful world. I felt instantly transported to a land far, far away to a time where legends and rituals were significant and paramount. To a time were the unknown were feared. A time when sacrifices had to be made for the sake of the countries survival.”


Cedarwood Lodge series by Rebecca Raisin

Cedarwood Lodge has been such a treat. I’m now feeling quite hungover with book love for the friends I’ve grown to love at Cedarwood Lodge. I do hope Rebecca Raisin will revisit Cedarwood Lodge in the future. I could happily read the whole series back to back again!”


I’d like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Healthy, Prosperous New Year … keep the books flowing 🙂


That Despicable Rogue by Virginia Heath book review


That Despicable Rogue written by Virginia Heath, publisher Mills & Boon Historical is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

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A lady’s mission of revenge…

Lady Hannah Steers has three reasons to loathe and despise Ross Jameson. He’s a scandalous libertine, he stole her home, and he was responsible for the death of her brother!

Determined to expose Ross for the rogue he is, Hannah dons a disguise and infiltrates his home as his new housekeeper. Unfortunately, this scoundrel proves himself to be the epitome of temptation and, instead of building a case against him, Hannah finds herself in a position she never expected…falling head over heels in love with him!


This is the second book I’ve read written by Virginia Heath.  That Despicable Rogue is Virginia’s debut novel and is such a romp of a read.  Virginia has a wonderful skill of inviting you into a world of aristocracy and of a time long ago.  I’m getting quite a taste for Regency Romance, the era is just so raw and honest and the classes were so easily identifiable.  Romance was proper and ladies were invited to society to be swooned and courted.

This story is about Ross Jameson who won the deeds to a stately home via a card game that ended quite dramatically.  Ross wasn’t born into aristocracy and has worked very hard to achieve something for himself and his mother and sister.  The newspapers have made a pretty sordid picture of Ross Jameson’s life and Lady Hannah Steers believes every single word of it.  Lady Hannah Steers has a dark past she is trying to forget.  However, the stately home that the alleged scoundrel Ross Jameson won is in fact Lady Hannah’s family home.  Although, Lady Hannah hasn’t lived in the home for sometime having been banished by her own brother to the country.  Lady Hannah comes up with a plan to claim back her ancestral home and applies in disguise to become the new housekeeper.  Hannah hopes to unearth some sordid affair to hopefully strip Mr James of his rights to the home.

This story has a very charming and at times scandalous leading man in the name of Ross Jameson.  However, there is more to Ross’s personality than what appears in the newspapers.  Lady Hannah’s past is also not as clear cut as first appears.  I loved the intrigue with the secrets that had been kept hidden about both Ross Jameson and Lady Hannah Steers.  The duplicity of Hannah’s plan causes many conflictions for the pair and sparks soon fly between them.  However, the sparks slowly turn to something more heated and the chemistry between the pair starts bubbling over.  A sexy, romantic regency romp that I simply adored.  5/5*

To find out more about Virginia Heath and her books please do visit the following pages:




Midnight and Mistletoe at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin book review/blogtour


Midnight and Mistletoe at Cedarwood Lodge written by Rebecca Raisin, publisher HQ Digital is available NOW in ebook format.

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Product Details (as per amazon page)

Planning a New Years Eve Party might be the kind of event Clio Winters used to dream about organising, but when everything is feeling a bit up in the air, she has to hope that this New Years her wish really will come true.

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is the final part in this feel-good romance serial.


I’m so pleased to be involved in the blogtour promoting and celebrating the launch of Rebecca Raisin’s final instalment in The Cedarwood Lodge trilogy.  Cedarwood Lodge has been such a treat.  I’m now feeling quite hungover with book love for the friends I’ve grown to love at Cedarwood Lodge.  I do hope Rebecca Raisin will revisit Cedarwood Lodge in the future.  I could happily read the whole series back to back again!

We rejoin Clio and her friends and family at Christmas, just after their first major wedding expo at the lodge.  With the excitement of the prospect of new events planning for the new year the gang can now relax a little and enjoy Christmas.  Until Tim, an old school friend of Clio’s, throws a party opportunity their way which is too good an offer to refuse.  One week to plan a major New Year’s Eve party for a big business.  Clio and Amory are already excited and are busy scribbling down ideas but with the boss of the firm making last minute changes the team at Cedarwood Lodge have lots to do.

Kai, the Australian builder who has caught Clio’s eye, is still on site finishing off work.  The relationship between Clio and Kai is so lovely.  They are both sensitive souls with background heartache between them.  Can Clio trust her heart and break down her barriers to let love in?  Or will it be too late with Kai with his family and other work commitments elsewhere?

The secrets of Cedarwood Lodge slowly start unravelling in this book and for someone it is such a heart breaking moment for them to reach out to others and let them understand this heartache.

Cedarwood Lodge, I can see from the words on the page, is a remarkable place that needs to let people in to share it’s beauty.  It just needed some like minded folk to refresh the bones of the place and bring some magic and love to the community that live, work and visit the lodge.  A gorgeous read 5/5*

To find out more about Rebecca Raisin and her books please do visit the following pages:




The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come by Jo Bartlett book review


The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come written by Jo Bartlett, publisher Accent Press, is available NOW in ebook format and is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

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As a special ed teacher in beautiful St Nicholas Bay, Kate Harris is used to taking the sensible approach. So when she decides that all she wants for Christmas is a family of her own, it seems there’s only one solution.

What Kate hasn’t considered is how the opinion of her friends might de-rail her plans, and almost everyone seems to have a view on what she should do for the best. But when a psychic suggests her destiny is already mapped out for her in red-and-white, Kate’s not sure if she can put her scepticism to one side to listen to any more advice.

There’s a special little boy, Kate hasn’t even met yet, whose whole future hangs on her decision. As Christmas approaches once more, time is running out for St Nicholas Bay to work its magic. Will Kate make the right decision and get the ready-made family she’s never dared dream of, or will it disappear – along with her oldest friend – as Christmas Eve closes in?


This is such a delightful, heart warming festive read with a special, precious storyline.

I loved returning back to St Nicholas Bay, we meet some new characters this time as well as revisiting old ones.  St Nicholas Bay is a fictional village on the coast of the south of England.  Legend has it that Charles Dickens wrote part of a Christmas Carol in St Nicholas Bay so many of the village premises and businesses hold an affinity to the places and characters taken from this festive classic.

The story focuses on a year in Kate’s life.  Kate is a special needs teacher at the local primary school.  Kate is desperate for a baby and is fed up of waiting for the right man and the right moment and is making plans for a sperm donor.  A chance glance at an article in an old local paper has given Kate inspiration for a different route into motherhood.

We follow Kate on her journey to becoming a parent with some laughs and smiles and some sad and tense moments along the way.  Kate has a close knit friendship with 3 friends from her childhood in the village.  One of these friends is Will, who is slowly getting his life back together following the breakup of his marriage.  However, will his new life take him away from the quartet and the village?  I loved this bond of friendship the quartet had.  They all had different stories with their lives but were there to support each other.

A truly lovely read that is a gift in itself with it’s heart warming storyline.  Jo Bartlett’s novels are becoming a firm favourite of mine.  5/5*

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.

To find out more about Jo Bartlett and her books please visit the following pages:




An Off-Piste Christmas by Julie Houston book review


An Off-Piste Christmas written and self-published by Julie Houston is available NOW in ebook format and is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

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From the author of #1 Humour Bestsellers GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME, THE ONE SAVING GRACE and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a brand new festive novella to make you laugh and warm your heart…

The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace’s, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.

Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces’ class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town… But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles…


This is the first book I’ve read written by Julie Houston.  What a wonderful way with words Julie has, such warmth and humour but then all of a sudden a serious issue is thrown in to jolt your emotions!

This Christmas novella rejoins the characters you’ve grown to love from Julie’s previous romcoms.  However, as I hadn’t had the pleasure to read the other stories I treated this book as a standalone.  An Off-Piste Christmas can be read as a standalone as you soon figure out who all the characters are.  I did slightly get a little confused with a certain love triangle, took a little while to get my head around these few characters.  However, due to Julie’s great warmth and humour in the storyline you can’t help but be drawn into the chaos and fun erupting with the friends and family during their Christmas vacation to a ski resort in Italy.

There was laughter and fun at the ski slopes for poor Harriet who hates snow and the cold, she’d much rather be in a warm, cosy café with a comforting drink and her favourite book.  Harriet doesn’t expect to bump into someone from her past at the top of a snowy mountain.  This discovery rocks the emotions for the whole ski party.

A fun filled romance with lots of family fun with a thought provoking twist to take your emotions on another journey.  4.5/5*

To find out more about Julie Houston and her books please visit the following pages:



Phoebe Smith’s Private blog by Lynda Renham book review


Phoebe Smith’s Private Blog written by Lynda Renham, publisher Raucous Publishing is available NOW in ebook format.

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Fashion conscious Phoebe Smith wants only one thing: a date for the works party in six weeks’ time. She embarks on a journey to find her man and keeps a private blog of all her disastrous encounters. But when her four-year-old nephew gets into her account, Phoebe’s problems only just begin. With Tinder calamities, a male escort and a pork pie addiction, Phoebe tackles her biggest problem: the just too irritating Harry Bloom. Come with Phoebe on her search for the perfect man and see who will accompany her to the party in this hilarious romantic comedy novel.


I read and reviewed this book a few weeks ago but hadn’t had the chance to publish a blogpost promoting it BUT now the ebook has a brand new cover the time feels right to share my review to you all.

Lynda Renham has done it again!

Lynda always manages to write a really good, fun story. A story with likeable characters and as a blogger myself, albeit ramblings on books, I felt an affinity to Phoebe. Phoebe was just using the blogging platform to write down her thoughts on her love life and lack of it. Her blog was set as private so Phoebe was feeling quiet cathartic writing down her thoughts on work, life, men, dating etc. but unbeknown to her the blog accidentally became public.

Phoebe’s life changes drastically following this public outing of her blog. A huge following grows and support for the group SHAG (Sexual Harassment Activist Group) take matters into their own hands and encroach into Phoebe’s workplace.

Can Phoebe take back control of her life after all the revelations discovered on the blog.

This was full of Lynda Renham’s usual frank honest humour. It was thoroughly entertaining with dating disasters in abundance and heart-warming moments to leave a smile on your face for a long time.

To find out more about Lynda Renham and her books please visit the following pages:




The 80’s Annual by Sarah Lewis book review


The 80’s Annual written by Sarah Lewis, publisher New Haven Publishing Ltd is available NOW in hardcover format.

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A full-colour retrospective of the year, with more than a nod to the teenage magazines of the era, The 80’s Annual embodies the excitement felt by the generation who grew up receiving an annual at Christmas. Featuring celebrity commentary on 80’s popular culture, 20 Question interviews, Top Tens, with contributions from Bruce Foxton, The Selecter, Johnny Hates Jazz, Musical Youth, Londonbeat, Then Jerico, Phil Fearon, Brother Beyond, Modern Romance, John Parr, Paul Hardcastle, Hazell Dean, Steve Blacknell, Garry Bushell, Matthew Rudd and more. Not forgetting the obligatory cheesy photo story, 80’s fiction, crosswords, puzzles, and quizzes including Lyrically Challenged, Pop Quiz and Which 80’s Group Are You? The 80’s Annual offers the perfect combination of nostalgia and new. A great read for every adult 80’s child. Going back to the 80s has never been so much fun!


This was such a wonderful trip down ‘memory lane’!  I was a teen in the 80’s and my first concert was to see Paul Young, I remember standing in the queue outside the City Hall hearing Paul rehearse and couldn’t believe I was actually there. It was such a memorable moment for me.  The 80’s was a great time for pop and fashion culture.  Remember rara skirts?!

Sarah Lewis has captured this era perfectly.  I loved the ‘Year That Was’ sections detailing key events in the year; it jogged my memory a few times and brought a smile to my face when I read something that I clearly recalled.  I also loved the 80’s themed short story written by Jo Bartlett.  Magazines of the era were full of pop and personality quizzes and Sarah has not forgotten these in her annual.

This annual would make a perfect gift for an 80’s fan and would be a great coffee table book you can keep dipping in and out of.  Would also make a great talking point with friends sharing the trip down ‘memory lane’.  A fun, factual, full colour annual for those not wanting to leave their teen dreams behind.

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book.

To find out more about Sarah Lewis and her work please visit the following pages:




Wellington’s Dearest Georgy: The Life and Loves of Lady Georgiana Lennox by Alice Marie Crossland


Wellington’s Dearest Georgy: The Life and Loves of Lady Georgiana Lennox written by Alice Marie Crossland, publisher Uniform Press is available NOW in paperback format.

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Using largely unpublished sources, this book tells the story of Lady Georgiana Lennox and the unique friendship she cherished with the Duke of Wellington. She first met the Duke on his return from India when he was serving under Georgy’s father as Chief Secretary. The Lennox family moved to Brussels in 1813 and Georgy’s mother the Duchess of Richmond threw the now legendary ball the night before the Battle of Waterloo. Georgy was a young, beautiful and immensely popular young lady at the time with many suitors. She and the Duke enjoyed a flirtatious early friendship, which blossomed into a true bond between families as the years went by. Georgy had a front row seat to the Battle of Waterloo, and remained in Brussels after the battle to help tend to the wounded. At 29 she married the future 23rd Baron de Ros who became a diplomatic spy, and later Governor of the Tower of London. Georgy had three children, and died at the impressive age of 96.


Now and again I like to read a book that takes me out of my comfort zone. I do love historical fiction but have not read a historical biography before. As soon as I read the synopsis of Dearest Georgy summarising Georgy’s friendship with the Duke of Wellington and that she had witnessed such a pivotal moment in history I knew there was much to learn about this lady that lived to such a grand age.

The author, Alice Marie Crossland, has done extensive research with reference to numerous footnotes to support her words. The book is also filled with wonderful illustrations which brings the story and its real life characters to life.

Georgiana Lennox was born into aristocracy, one of 14 children to the Duke and Duchess of Richmond. It was the early 18 hundreds, a time when young ladies were introduced to society and families searched for a good, wealthy pedigree for their daughter’s to marry.

Georgy, as she was fondly known by the Duke of Wellington, had an almost precious relationship with the Duke. The dramatic scenes unfolding at the ball before the Battle of Waterloo were quite poignant. Scenes of joviality were dramatically left with ladies feeling quite bereft from the sudden absence of men.

Georgy’s life experienced many tragedies from this date on. Tragedy and uncertainty of war, separation from loved ones, terrible illnesses, death. She had moved from London, Ireland, Brussels and back. Visits to Paris also. The travelling must have been horrific, I can’t imagine moving a family of fourteen children to another country by ship then by cart. Long, very cold journeys that must have felt never ending.

When Georgy did find a husband it was so humbling to read of this side of her. Moving from lavish surroundings to a more meagre accommodation. Georgy took it in her stride and embraced this new chapter of her life.

A very informative and interesting read about a remarkable young woman growing up experiencing and living through many pivotal historical times. A story of long lasting friendship and of a love that was so strong facing many turbulent times but equally many enjoyable memorable scenes. Evoking and dramatic and deeply moving. I would love to see Georgy’s story on the big screen.

To find out more about Alice Marie Crossland and her work please visit the following pages:



Under the Spanish Stars by Alli Sinclair book review


Under the Spanish Stars written by Alli Sinclair, publisher Lyrical Press for ebook format and Kensington Publishing Corporation for print format.  Under the Spanish Stars is book 1 in the Wandering Skies series and is available to purchase NOW.

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Product Details (as per amazon page)

Amid the vivid beauty of Granada, a woman entrusted with unraveling a family secret will discover the truth about her heritage—and the alluring promise of love…

When her beloved grandmother falls ill, Charlotte Kavanagh will do whatever she asks of her—even if it means traveling to a country that broke her abuela’s heart. Can an unsigned painting of a flamenco dancer unlock the secrets of her grandmother’s youth in Spain? To find the answers she needs, Charlotte must convince the charismatic and gifted musician, Mateo Vives to introduce her to a secluded gypsy clan.

The enigmatic Mateo speaks the true language of flamenco, a culture Charlotte must learn to appreciate if she wants to understand her grandmother’s past—and the flamenco legend that has moved souls to beauty, and bodies to the heights of passion. As Mateo leads her into the captivating world of the music and the dance, Charlotte embraces her own long-denied creative gift and the possibility of a future rich with joy…


I really enjoyed this historical romance set in the glorious, colourful surroundings of Granada, Spain.  The story is written in two time frames: the present day and travelling back to 1936 to a very turbulent time in Spain.

Charlotte Kavanagh and her family live in Australia.  Charlotte is very close to her Grandmother, Katarina.  Katarina is of Spanish origin and she lived there till the political climate in Spain proved too difficult for her and her friends.  Katarina (Charlotte’s Abuela) is very ill in hospital, she has asked for the help of her granddaughter, Charlotte, to go on a mission to find the origins of the artist who painted the painting given to the young Katarina by her father.  Charlotte is also hoping to discover more about her Abuela’s history in Spain which Katarina has kept secret all this time.

Charlotte sets out on the mystery tour across half the world to Granada with little more than the painting for clues.  Charlotte doesn’t expect this journey to include experiences and discoveries for her own destiny.

The author, Alli Sinclair, takes us on two very well choreographed journeys: one with Charlotte discovering facts and unearthing secrets about her Abuela and her own heritage.  The second journey starts back in 1936 with a young Katarina secretly taking flamenco lessons away from the watchful eye of her mother.  As the years went by in Spain political unrest grew and some forms of flamenco dancing were frowned on by the tyrant Franco and his henchmen.  Life took on a dangerous turn for Katarina which left her and her loved ones in fear of their lives.

This is the first book I’ve read by Alli Sinclair and her words drew me in to the love of flamenco and to a country so vivid with it’s colours, rhythmic sounds and glorious foods.  I could feel the love the people felt for this dance and their own culture and heritage.  The heat of the dance intensified with Alli’s descriptive words.  Going back to the time of the unrest for young Katarina was exciting and dramatic.  The young people of Spain were in fear of their lives and their beliefs were questioned.

Alli Sinclair took me on many journeys with this story: there was heat, drama, fear, love, family, culture.  A beautiful love story that time and conflict could never erase.  5/5*

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.

To find out more about Alli Sinclair and her books please visit the following pages: