Thursday, 29 December 2016

Some of my favourite books of 2016

At the beginning of the year I posted my most anticipated list - books that I was looking forward to reading; newly published and a few from my ever-expanding 'to read' list. Despite reading and reviewing 100 books in 2016, there are still quite a few from the start of the year that I still haven't read. They have become part of the family as I look at them apologetically as I walk past the shelf and choose another book to read.' Maybe next time' I say to them knowing that the chances are receding with each new book added. 'I will read you' I promise, 'I just don't know when'. Anyway, let me share a few of the great books that I did manage to read. With so many to choose from, here are just a few of my favourites.

The Silk Merchant's Daughter - Dinah Jefferies

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1952, French Indochina. Since her mother's death, eighteen-year-old half-French, half-Vietnamese Nicole has been living in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Sylvie. When Sylvie is handed control of the family silk business, Nicole is given an abandoned silk shop in the Vietnamese quarter of Hanoi. But the area is teeming with militant rebels who want to end French rule, by any means possible. For the first time, Nicole is awakened to the corruption of colonial rule - and her own family's involvement shocks her to the core...
Tran, a notorious Vietnamese insurgent, seems to offer the perfect escape from her troubles, while Mark, a charming American trader, is the man she's always dreamed of. But who can she trust in this world where no one is what they seem? 
The Silk Merchant's Daughter is a captivating tale of dark secrets, sisterly rivalry and love against the odds, enchantingly set in colonial era Vietnam.
I love books that transport you to another place or another era and this book does both. Next on my list is:-

The Girl In The Ice - Robert Bryndza

It says that it's a gripping serial killer thriller and it certainly kept me up for a couple of nights!!

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Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one. 

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation. 

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London. 

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding? 

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika. 

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

There is only one problem after reading this book - it's the first in the series so that means I now have another two books to add to my TBR pile. You can see why I didn't finish last year's pile now?
If you prefer something a bit lighter but which will stay with you long after you put the book down, then 'The Forgotten Summer' by Carol Drinkwater is one of my favourite reads of the summer - vineyards, France and long summer days - what more could you ask?

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The grape harvest at the Cambon family's magnificent vineyard is normally a cause for celebration. But when an accident destroys the crop, Clarisse Cambon knows exactly who to blame - her daughter-in-law Jane.

It's the latest incident in a decades-long feud whose origin both women have concealed from Luc, who struggles to keep his wife and mother on speaking terms.

But when tragedy strikes and Jane is forced to take charge of the ailing vineyard she uncovers proof that Luc has been keeping secrets of his own. Worse still, Clarisse is the only one who knows the truth . . .



Still in France, Paris this time, and no list would be complete without one of Rebecca Raisin's delightful, cozy mysteries - 'The little antique shop under the Eiffel Tower' is a lovely read and follows on from 'The little bookshop on the Seine'.

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Escape to Paris this summer and prepare to be swept off your feet…
Anouk LaRue used to be a romantic, but since she had her heart well and truly broken her love life has dissolved into nothing more than daydreams of the perfect man. Retreating to her extraordinary Little Antique Shop has always been a way to escape, because who could feel alone in a shop bursting with memories and beautiful objects…

Until Tristan Black bursts into an auction and throws her ordered world into a spin.

Following your heart is a little like getting lost in Paris – sometimes confusing and always exciting! Except learning to trust her instincts is not something Anouk is ready to do when it comes to romance, but the city of love has other ideas…

This one is pure escapism!!!!
One of my favourite historical novelists is Charlotte Betts and 'The house in Quill Court' is a must-read.

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1813. Venetia Lovell lives by the sea in Kent with her pretty, frivolous mother and idle younger brother. Venetia's father, Theo, is an interior decorator to the rich and frequently travels away from home, leaving his sensible and artistic daughter to look after the family. Venetia designs paper hangings and she and her father often daydream about having an imaginary shop where they would display the highest quality furniture, fabrics and art to his clients.

When a handsome but antagonistic stranger, Jack Chamberlaine, arrives at the Lovell's cottage just before Christmas bringing terrible news, Venetia's world is turned upside-down and the family have no option but to move to London, to the House in Quill Court and begin a new life. Here, Venetia's courage and creativity are tested to breaking point, and she discovers a love far greater than she could have ever imagined . . .

Over to Guernsey next for 'Echoes of time' by Anne Allen. With a brilliant setting, super characters and a paranormal element, this book is one of her best. Having read Books 1. 2 and 3 I couldn't turn down the chance to read this one although Book 4 is still calling me!!!

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Betrayal, injustice and revenge echo down the years… 

1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey. 
All too soon Olive realises she’s made a mistake. 
Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer- 
but there’s a price to pay. . . 

2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own… 
Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive. 

Thrown together in a bid to find out what really happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on? 

If you've read this far, then you'll know that I'm a real lover of foreign climes, in particular Greece. 'An octopus in my ouzo' is one of the best memoirs set in Greece that I've read - and I've read a few!!!

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When Jennifer moves into the Honey Factory on the tiny Greek island of Tilos, bringing a laptop, her hiking boots and one slightly broken heart, she has no idea what surprises life holds in store for her. From the joy of gardening her own little piece of paradise to the thrill of joining in with the Greek dancing at local festivals, Jennifer learns something new every day – and discovers love again along the way.

Dive into this exquisite, honest and deeply moving tale and taste the sweetness of living life to the full on a small island.


Still in Greece, one of my favourite books of all time has to be ' Cartes postalise from Greece' by Victoria Hislop. The hard cover version is a touchy- feely delight, the story is a delight and the anecdotes and tales from Greece are universal. I treasure this book.

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Week after week, the postcards arrive, addressed to a name Ellie does not know, with no return address, each signed with an initial: A.

With their bright skies, blue seas and alluring images of Greece, these cartes postales brighten her life. After six months, to her disappointment, they cease. But the montage she has created on the wall of her flat has cast a spell. She must see this country for herself.

On the morning Ellie leaves for Athens, a notebook arrives. Its pages tell the story of a man's odyssey through Greece. Moving, surprising and sometimes dark, A's tale unfolds with the discovery not only of a culture but also of a desire to live life to the full once more.


So, just a few of the books I've loved reading in 2016. Whether you share my taste or maybe find a new book to add to your own TBR list, here's wishing everyone happy reading in 2017.