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 🙂


Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann blogtour book review

valley of the dolls

Valley of the Dolls was written by Jacqueline Susann back in 1966, 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of this iconic novel that broke the mould in literacy.  I am so pleased and honoured to be part of the blogtour with Virago in honouring and celebrating this historical story.  Valley of the Dolls achieved the number 1 spot on The New York Times bestseller list and remained there for an unrivalled 28 weeks.

To purchase this wonderful 50th Anniversary edition, that has wonderful pink edging to the pages please visit the following link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Before Jackie Collins, Candace Bushnell and Lena Dunham, Jacqueline Susann held the world rapt with her tales of the private passions of Hollywood starlets, high-powered industrialists and the jet-set.

Valley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published, fifty years ago. Never had a book been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. It is often sited as the bestselling novel of all time.

Dolls – red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become best friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.


I’d like to thank the publishers Virago for my copy of this classic in return for an honest review.

The story starts in 1945 when country girl Anne arrives in New York to start her new life in the most exciting city in the world.  Anne ended up working for a big theatrical attorney.  She was definitely ‘a fish out of water’ in this new world at the start of the celeb culture but Anne soon settled and soon made friends.  One of her first friends was Neely, a 17 year old singer and dancer trying to make it big in a dance/singing trio.  Another friend Anne made was Jennifer whose beauty and figure helped her get a role in the next big Broadway show.  Neely also managed to get a role in this Broadway show with help and encouragement from Anne.We follow the girls on their quest for stardom, love and happiness but the rise to fame comes with many costs.

The demands that were placed on these young women dreaming of stardom were insurmountable.  They felt like the only release for them was a ‘red, yellow, green or even blue striped pill’ washed down with alcohol.  This was the start of a regime that very easily spiralled out of control.  Hollywood was turning the young and beautiful starlets into monsters.  This was the start of the media obsessed culture and producers expected their girls to act and look a certain way.  All most of the stars wanted was to be loved whether by an audience or by a partner.

It was a fascinating read, probably the first book to look at showbiz culture in the raw. All the razzmatazz was clouded and fuelled by drugs, alcohol and sex.  Young actors were used, manipulated and thrown aside all to make sales and Hollywood look good.  Jacqueline Susann was very honest, frank and raw with her writing.  This era wasn’t very kind to the homosexual community and people openly called them names.  With the open use of drugs, sex and alcohol and the independence of women post war wanting to work this novel and Jacqueline Susann helped to pioneer addiction, women’s rights and gay rights.

I felt very sad for Anne, Neely and Jennifer, their lives were controlled by men who wished for them to be or act like someone else.

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!  5/5*

To find out more about this iconic novel and it’s 50th Anniversary celebrations please click on the following links:

Virago Books will be holding many celebrations with this iconic novel, please look out for details on their twitter page: