All time faves

This week I’m lucky enough to get to share my top 20 all time favourite books with members of TBConFB.  A fantastic online bookclub hosted by Tracy Fenton and a team of ninja admins. Most I read before I started blogging so it’s been nice to revisit books.

Here our my first five #ATF reads.

Pride & Prejudice Jane Austen
Girl meets boy and they find their happy ever after. The spirited but poor Miss Bennett takes on spirited but rich and bad Mr Darcy – who will win?!

This is the book that spurned a $1b industry, a few films and a million references to Mr Darcy. So, its kind of great but not for everyone.  Quite simply my love of romance, written and real, started with Mr Darcy and trundles on today.
One of the best things about it, is the number of memorable scenes and quirky characters. Elizabeth’s response to Darcy’s proposal marks her down as an early feminist or at least a real heroine!  Of course, there is one problem, especially if you remember Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy, how does the everyday bloke compete? Mr Darcy has set the standard for husband material for teen girls for 200 years.

 

Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafron
Set in Barcelona during the civil war, the story centres on the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This old, huge, gothic library is presided over by a few caretakers. As tradition dictates Daniel takes one book from the library but must forever after protect it. Daniel’s choice is The Shadow of the Wind.

This is my favourite book forever, if only I could back in time and read it for the first time. I can’t really tell you what this book is about.  I can honestly say I don’t really know how to tell you why I love it so much and even what it’s really about. But I just love it. And if you read it and love it, you’ll be booking tickets to Barcelona. Although this is totally stand alone, there are three books in the trilogy, the other two are good but this is a literary masterpiece. And beautifully translated from the Spanish.

 

The Magic Pudding Norman Lindsay
A true Australian classic children’s book. It’s the story of a pudding. In fact a magic pudding, no matter how much its eaten it reforms to be whole again. Albert the pudding travels with a sailor, koala and a penguin, and has adventures.
As a child I loved this, a pudding that never ends? Seriously, who wouldn’t? Its fast paced, with cute characters and it made me smile I don’t know how many times as a kid. As an adult I’ve read it endless to kids, and its always a winner. The ending is just so lovely. Its old, probably one hundred years old but its still great. The author was also a celebrated artist so some wonderful drawings bring the pudding to life.

 

The Ocean at the Bottom of the Lane Neil Gaiman
This is a story about remembering your childhood forty years on.  A man returns for a funeral and the past that happened in a neighbouring farm pulls at him and the story unravels.  He and his childhood friend had adventures and mysteries but in fact his past is quite a scary place much as his childhood was. He remembers Lettie and her family and the almost fairytale like encounter they had.
Neil Gaiman writes fantasy for grown ups whilst totally getting the whole childhood thing. I just loved it. Its probably the most quoteable book I’ve ever read and with fantastic imagery. It’s the kind of book that you take great pleasure in finishing and sharing with others. You’ll want to talk about it! It wasn’t for some time after that I realised we never get to know who the man returning to his childhood is. And that really plays to the strength of Gaiman’s uniqueness.

 

Blood Shadows, book 1 Blackthorn Lindsay J. Pryor

Book 1 in an eight part series about an urban dystopian world. Here humans rule the third species. Vampires, lycans and angels are at the mercy of a cruel system and so are humans who fall by the way side. But war is coming and the man in the know is master vampire Kane Malloy. He wants to stop the war at any cost, he’ll need to make the right alliances and learn what others know. But most of all he’ll have to deal with shadow reader Caitlin Parish.
This UF series is unlike anything else I’ve read in this genre. Its full of Machiavellian politics. The author trails breadcrumbs throughout so that you can never quite trust what you think you know. If you love unique worlds, this will blow you away. In this genre just about everything gets compared to JR Ward’s BDB (which I adore), where that warms your heart and makes you smile Blackthorn twists your guts and makes your pant.

I’ve reviewed Blackthorn books several times here is the latest review

The brutal Milky Way

 

Yes to the Silver Fox

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Falling for Flynn by Kate Willoughby

I’m not overly a fan of a silver fox romance. Truth be told I only read this as I’m such a fan of Ms Willoughby’s writing.

Turns out I was wrong to completely rule out a hot older guy and girl romance. This is a sweet and easy read, with bucket loads of romance and cuteness.  Interestingly as it’s a story about a chap who avoids drama the story is light on superfluous melodrama (thank you Kate!).

Flynn is an all round nice guy who just needs to find his girl or perhaps better said his lady.  Tracy has real backbone to her.  What I liked is that she was the real catch – no doubt Flynn was lucky to have her.  She has a successful career, good friends, hobbies, is super fit, smart, sexy, respected, good fun and all up has a fabulous life. Yep, he’s a lucky boy.  Usually it’s the hockey star with the great life he shares with his lady. That’s so not Tracy’s story.

And her message to sports administrators and fans about women’s sport is perfect for hockey, but also football, rugby and cricket etc.  You go girl!

Totally great start to a new series from Kate Willoughby.  It is kind of a spin off from her Barracudas series but you don’t need to read that to like this. It’s absolutely stand alone.

I always look forward to Kate Willoughby’s books and was so happy I read this one!

Terrorists and Russian Dolls

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The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette

‘I can’t tell you the truth, but I can tell you a story’

And yes he does exactly that.  Clearly, as a former Met detective David Videcette has plenty of real life experience to bring to his story telling. There are quite a few scenes where there’s so much authenticity in the detail that the bare bones must be true, but the wider story?  Who knows?

The more I read The Theseus Paradox the more I thought of those Russian dolls.  As you got deeper and deeper into each layer of the story the kernel of the truth was there somewhere waiting to be uncovered. Or was it?!

It’s a totally brilliant concept that has you asking what is true or not?  And is that the same in real life? Could there be truth in this version of London’s 7/7?  Is what we accept as true really true?

David Videcette takes the reader on a journey about the nature of terrorism.  What actually is terrorism? Are terrorists always the fanatical extremists we imagine?  How do they get there? Are the school girls who left Gatwick for a what they perceived as a more religious, and therefore better life, terrorists? Or are they victims of other people’s agendas?

Could impressionable young people’s passion for their cause be misappropriated by criminal master minds?  And if so, is it terrorism or just a criminal act?  Do we feel more fear about a radical terrorist willing to do anything to gain entry to the afterlife or a criminal genius willing to do anything for money and power?

The other interesting theme in this book is around the use of data.  It made it quite clear that the war we fight today is on so many fronts.  Leaving endless DNA and clues to process has the potential to cripple our emergency services in the same way as the bomb itself.  Fascinating, I never thought of that, but it’s so obvious when you think about it.

This is a really interesting read.  You need to be open minded to question everything you know about 7/7, and for some that might be painful. Like so many Londoners this story is personal to me, I was on the circle line tube at the very time it happened.  It took me a while therefore to read this.  But once I got into it I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Videcette’s book is fast paced with strong characters, believable details and a challenging story line.  I loved the insight into the British psyche. I can’t wait to see what DI Jake Flannagan gets up to next!

Dripping Luxury

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The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Oh wow I wasn’t expecting that!

I downloaded this wondering if it would be any good as I didn’t know the author and hadn’t heard of the book, I took a chance because it was on the best Goodread books of the year.  Well, it’s a terrific read, one of my 2016 favourites.

Sometimes it’s all about the slow burn, in this case a very slow burn.  A dripping tap almost. It might have taken me a while to fall for Aiden Graves but I fell in love with this book by page two.

It’s so gorgeously written that the slow unwrapping of the story is like waiting for the best present ever. How the author holds back on the pace I will never know, but surprisingly you don’t want her to go any faster. And I normally like a heathy dose of pace with my stories. Not this time.

There’s something about the way Ms Zapata describes the growing physical closeness between Aiden and Vanessa. It’s not about sex because they aren’t getting down to it, but it’s so damn sensual and romantic.  She sits on his knee in front of his friends and slowly gets so comfy that she falls asleep in his lap.  I wasn’t reading what happened I was there watching it.  It was so eloquently written that I wanted to frame the words – still might!  Or at least fall asleep in Aiden’s lap.

The writing was romance at it’s best.  It was like fabulous coffee, expensive chocolate, gorgeous silk and aromatic cognac it glided through my senses. Luxurious!

There’s plenty of friends to lovers books or the instant attraction or second chance romance. This is just so different, especially for a sports romance. Bravo Ms Zapata!  I certainly know who you are now!

Move over Bluebell, Sparkle has arrived!

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Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh (Guildhunter #9)

Superb! Nalini Singh does it again, she couldn’t write a bad book if you paid her.

I adore this cover.  Yet, today I’m staring at it rather bleary eyed.  Normally I’m dreaming by 10pm.  Instead last night I was still reading at 2am. I was so swept up in this wonderful story, I couldn’t even consider putting it down.

So, this book revisits Raphael and Elena and in particular focuses on Elena’s past.  I’ll admit at first I was disappointed that Bluebell wasn’t meeting his match, in fact it’s Aodhan who plays a huge part in this story.  And little by little I fell in love with Aodhan.  His steely strength, soft humour and love of art coupled with a depth of character that is slowly coming to the surface meant I was a goner. Illium who?

Nalini Singh’s writing style is so gentle, it’s like a friend whispering in your ear.  Slowly she sucks you in, and it’s not until the end you realise you’ve been subsumed. Hence at 2am I’m reading ‘just one more chapter’.  When I finish a Nalini Singh book there’s a sadness, I’ve lost that friend’s voice in my ear.

Nalini’s beautifully gentle style contrasts sharply with the Machiavellian angel politics and the evil surrounding the Cadre as they try to solve the riddle of Lijuan.

Aside from Aodhan, the other star of the show is Morocco. The descriptions of the buildings and town market were so perfectly evocative, that I imagine the Moroccan tourist board has been on the phone!

And so back to my wonderful Bluebell. Yep, I’m kinda sorry but Aodhan has replaced him in my affections. Oh well, something tells me that the blue winged one will cope.

Let’s hope that Aodhan is next! Would saying please help?

 

Thank you you to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review. However at midnight my preordered book I arrived and I happily finished reading that!