Thursday, 22 December 2016

My Top 16 Books of 2016

2016 may not have been the best of years but there is no denying that some fantastic books came out of it! Before I go on my annual blogging break over Christmas and New Year I wanted to share with you sixteen of the best books I read in 2016. Yesterday I completed my Goodreads challenge of reading 125 books so I certainly have plenty to choose from! I haven't chosen any 2017 proofs as I will have a separate post coming in the New Year all about the wonderful books I've had the pleasure of reading early. Before we get started, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for all of your incredible support this year and I hope that you have the most wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year. Right, shall we begin!? I'll be working my way down from number sixteen to my number one book of the year.


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware 
This gripping thriller had to make my top sixteen! It was one of the rare books where I didn't see the twist coming and everyone I have recommended it to this year has loved it just as much as I did. If you love atmospheric crime fiction that keeps you guessing this is the book to pick up!


Uprooted by Naomi Novik 
I know I'm very late to the party with this one but I am so glad that I finally picked it up this year! Uprooted is one of the most magical fantasy books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It's completely enchanting and I felt like a little girl again reading my favourite fairytale. 


Our Song by Dani Atkins 
I read this one way back in February and it has still stuck with me as one of the best books that I've read this year. This is a real weepy about two couples whose lives intertwine when tragedy strikes one winter's night and is perfect for fans of Me Before You. 


Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo 
This is a book that I can see making so many people's best books lists for this year because it was just that good! Crooked Kingdom was a  brilliant ending to an explosive duology. Leigh is my Queen and I can't help but think that every other YA Fantasy book pales in comparison to this series.


13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough 
This is another book that I read way back at the start of the year and was one of the first books that I read in January yet it still stands out to me as one of the best. 13 Minutes is a masterfully crafted YA Thriller that is perfect for fans of Mean Girls and anyone who likes dark and twisted reads.


Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven 
This has been a bit of a marmite book this year but I absolutely adored it. It's a gorgeous story that made me cry for no particular reason other than Jennifer Niven's writing is so beautiful. It's such a heartfelt contemporary about finding the courage to be seen for who you really are. 


Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane 
This book for me is the best women's fiction novel of 2016. It's funny, slick, intelligent and features a heroine who I want so badly to be my best friend. If you haven't read Mhairi McFarlane yet you are seriously missing out. I love how real her heroines feel and how I can always relate to their stories.


What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne 
Obviously a Holly Bourne book had to feature somewhere on this list! This is the last book (sort of) in the Spinster Club trilogy and I loved everything about it. It has friendship, feminism, cheesy snacks and everything else you'd expect from this fab series. I am so sad to say goodbye to these characters *sobs* Holly, please write more! 


Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes 
I'm not a massive reader of non-fiction but this book literally changed my life after I read it back in March and helped me to achieve things I never thought I would this past year. Shonda Rhimes is a powerhouse of a woman and has some fantastic advice to give in this book about living creatively, being happy and finding the courage to say yes to life's opportunities.


Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield 
This is hands down the biggest YA weepy of the year! Paper Butterflies is another book that I can see making a lot of people's top books lists because I don't know a single person who has read this book and not loved it. It's one of those books that leaves you physically feeling like your heart has been broken but is so very important to read. 


Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur 
 If you'd have told me that a collection of poetry would make it into my top books of 2016 back at the start of the year I would have laughed in your face. Prior to reading Milk and Honey I hadn't read poetry since I was at school but something drew me to this book and I'm so very glad that it did. This is another one of those life changing books that spoke to my soul. I feel like every woman who picks up Milk and Honey will find at least one poem that will speak to her.  


Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall 
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an incredibly special and important book to me and is the best book I've read all year about mental health. I related to Norah's struggles with agoraphobia and anxiety so much. This book is unflinching, honest and quietly hopeful and is an absolute must read for anyone living with mental illness. 


The Girls by Emma Cline 
I picked up The Girls on a bit of a whim and am so, so glad that I did! I read this book over one hot summers day and was completely astounded by it. The Girls is a painfully honest study on the way girls interact with one another and our desire to please both society and men before ourselves. If you enjoy books about complex women this book is not to be missed! 


Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard 
Coming in at number three is Beautiful Broken Things which will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody because I have been raving about this book all year. This is my favourite debut of 2016 and Sara has quickly become one of my favourite authors. Beautiful Broken Things delivered everything that I've been wanting to read in a YA book for the last few years and is a gorgeous story about the power of female friendships. 

The Deviants by C.J. Skuse 
C.J. Skuse is, in my opinion, one of the very best writers for teens out there. The voices of her characters are so authentic and she's been one of my must-read authors for many years now, yet despite knowing all of this, nothing could have prepared me for The Deviants. This book really shows what C.J is capable of with its clever twists, skilled plotting and heart-breaking finale. It's such an accomplished story that I know will stay with me for a long time to come. 


The Graces by Laure Eve 
The Graces is the most unique book that I read in 2016 and I loved how different it was to anything else I have read this year. This book blew my mind with its heady writing, intoxicating characters and dark undertones of power and obsession. Thrilling and atmospheric The Graces is so deserving of being my best book of 2016. 

So there you have it, my top 16 books of 2016! 
I'll be back in January ready for a brand new year of reading. 
Here's to another fabulous year of books!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Review for Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

Mistletoe on 34th Street 
by Lisa Dickenson 
Publisher: Sphere
Release: November 3rd 2016
Genre: Christmas, Women’s Fiction
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, 'traditional' Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she's not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia's friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?"

Mistletoe on 34th Street is the perfect book to read over the festive season and has quickly become one of my new all-time favourite Christmas books! With snow, New York and a will-they-won’t-they romance it warmed my heart and made me feel all Christmassy.

The book follows Olivia who is in New York just before Christmas on a work trip but as heavy snow falls in the UK all flights back home are cancelled and she is left stranded in New York with her colleagues over Christmas. Olivia has never experienced a traditional Christmas before, with her family preferring to head off to sunnier climes as soon as the weather turns colder and so her work friend Jon sets out to show Olivia how wonderful Christmas can be in the most magical city in the world. As Olivia begins to fall in love with Christmas and her heart opens to new possibilities, she wonders if the man she’s meant to kiss underneath the mistletoe has been right in front of her all along.

Olivia was such a likeable heroine, I warmed to her immediately and became more and more invested in her story as the book went on she’s definitely the kind of person you’d want as a friend and I loved her work empowering young girls and women. Jon is everything I want in a romantic hero, he’s the loyal and kind friend who pines for the girl only to be overlooked, I was rooting for Olivia to notice him and realize how perfect they would be together. Their love story is incredibly sweet and I loved following their romantic adventure in The Big Apple seeing the sights and discovering the magic of Christmas.

Mistletoe on 34th Street delivered everything that I look for in a Christmas story and is a book that I have recommended to countless people since reading it. It is funny, festive and feel-good providing some much needed winter escapism! If you only have time for one Christmas book this year, make it this one.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Christmas With Chrissie Manby

Today I have Chrissie Manby on the blog talking about her new Christmas book A Fairy Tale For Christmas and how she celebrates Christmastime. So grab a hot chocolate, turn on your Christmas playlist and spend Christmas with Chrissie Manby...

1.) What can readers expect from A Fairy Tale for Christmas?
Christmas cheer and classic British comedy. A Fairy Tale for Christmas follows the members of an amateur dramatic society as they rehearse and perform in a production of the pantomime Cinderella. There’s plenty of mayhem behind the curtains and lots of romance too as Kirsty, who is playing Cinderella, finds herself torn between her own Prince Charming, director Jon, and single father Ben, who is roped in to play Buttons.

2.) How do you get into the festive spirit to write your Christmas stories? 
I burn orange and spice scented candles and eat mince pies, if I can get hold of them. Since the supermarkets seem to start stocking their Christmas food in September now, it isn’t hard!

3.) If you could play any part in the NEWTS pantomime what would it be?
I’d like to play the Fairy Godmother. You get a good outfit and you’ve got the audience on your side. I suppose I should say Cinderella but I’ve always thought of her as a bit of a drip. Fancy marrying a man who could only recognise you by the size of your feet!

4.) Can we expect any more stories from the Bensons in the future?
I hope so. Falling Leaves and Fireworks, which came out in October, is a novella featuring the Bensons at Halloween and Bonfire Night. Next year, I’m planning to at least put out a Christmas short featuring the gang. Maybe a novel, if I can write quickly enough!

5.) What’s your favourite thing about Christmas? 
My favourite thing about Christmas is spending time with my family. Dad died suddenly at the end of August, so this year it’s more important than ever for the rest of us to get together. I know we’re going to miss him terribly.

6.) Do you have any Christmas traditions? 
Every year I try to persuade my brother-in-law that we should set up a company called ‘Christmas Crappers’, selling crackers with rubbish presents inside them. Then we remind ourselves that crackers always have rubbish presents inside them. Does that count? I also always hate the John Lewis ad. The music. The mawkishness. Ugh!

7.) Favourite Christmas food and drink? 
Whatever my mum and my fabulous sister Kate are cooking! I love satsumas too.

8.) Favourite Christmas movie?
Got to be White Christmas for me. My favourite thing to watch at Christmas however has to be the Christmas episode of The Royle Family in which Denise and Dave defrost the turkey in the bath.

9.) Favourite Christmas song? 
For a weepy, I love The Coventry Carol. For a party, I love The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping

10.) What does Christmas mean to you? 
That’s a big question. A time to draw your loved ones close and wish for Peace On Earth even if it seems increasingly unachievable? How about that?

 A Fairy Tale For Christmas is available to buy in all good bookshops now. 
 Add A Fairy Tale For Christmas on Goodreads here 
 Follow Chrissie on Twitter @chrissiemanby

Monday, 5 December 2016

Talking As Fast As I Can Blog Tour: 5 Reasons to Love Lorelai Gilmore & Giveaway

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Talking As Fast As I Can blog tour! I'm a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and Lauren Graham in general, so today I wanted to share with you the top five reasons I love Lorelai Gilmore and give you the chance to win Lauren Graham's new book Talking As Fast As I Can, an essential read for any Gilmore Girls fan!

1.) She understands the importance of junk food

2.) She's weird, awkward and relatable

3.) She always has the best advice

4.) Her witty comebacks are serious goals

5.) She's fiercely loyal to those she loves

Don't miss your chance to win Talking As Fast As I Can over on Twitter!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Christmas With Lisa Dickenson

Today I have Lisa Dickenson on the blog talking about her new Christmas book Mistletoe on 34th Street and how she celebrates Christmastime. So grab a hot chocolate, turn on your Christmas playlist and spend Christmas with Lisa Dickenson...

1.) What sparked the idea for Mistletoe on 34th Street?
I love New York at Christmas (I mean, who doesn’t?) and so when I decided to do another Christmas book it seemed like a natural fit. The actual storyline however was inspired by my own stay in New York in December of 2010, when my (then boyfriend) Phil and I were on the last stop of a year-long round the world trip. He proposed on our “last night”, but then the UK had a huge snow storm and we were stranded in NYC with Christmas Day, which we’d been so looking forward to getting home in time for, creeping closer and closer.

2.) How do you get into the festive spirit to write? 
I listen to soooooo many Christmas songs! Christmas music is the soundtrack to many of my summer months while I try and conjure up images of twinkling lights and crunchy snow. It helps that I do love a bit of Nat King Cole and Mariah, though.

3.) If you could spend Christmas in New York what would you get up to? 
I would walk around Central Park – a lot – because it’s peaceful and beautiful and great for people-watching. I’d go to Rockefeller Plaza and see all the angels because it’s my favourite part of New York during the holidays. And I’d eat absolutely everything because a) American food is yummy, and b) if you can’t stuff your gob at Christmas, when can you?

4.) What are some of your favourite books/movies set in New York?
I adore Home Alone 2 and Elf for the Christmas in NYC factor, but I also love How To Marry A Millionaire and Catch Me If You Can. Book-wise, I Heart New York by Ms Kelk or The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld.

5.) Which of your characters would you most like to kiss underneath the mistletoe? 
I couldn’t possibly; my leading men are all taken ;)

6.) Do you have any Christmas traditions? 
Oh lots, I love Christmas traditions! I love to watch all the Christmas movies, listen to all the music, eat all the chocolate oranges and see as much family as possible.

7.) Favourite Christmas food and drink? 
Chocolate oraaaaaanggggggge and mulled wine, pleasezz and thank youzz.

8.) Favourite Christmas movie?
Muppet’s Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life and Home Alone (soz for choosing three)

9.) Favourite Christmas song? 
I can’t decide on just one for this question either! I love Sleigh Ride, Last Christmas, Let It Snow, All I Want for Christmas Is You, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, and (wildcard) Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande.

10.) What does Christmas mean to you? 
It means being kind. No matter your religion, your political views, your beliefs, your loves, it’s just about coming together and being kind to each other. And eating chocolate for breakfast.

 Mistletoe on 34th Street is available to buy in all good bookshops now. 
 Add Mistletoe on 34th Street on Goodreads here 
 Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaWritesStuff
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