Review

My Top Books of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created and is  hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  
It is rather difficult to chose the top books of 2016 for me. So many good reads, although not necessarily outstanding reads. Some haven’t made the list but could easily have. I haven’t included audiobooks although some were fabulous. Thank you to all the authors who entertained me in 2016. I apologise that your book is not here, mainly because the post would just be far too long!
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This was my first book of the year and it turns out to be one of my top reads for 2016. It was fantasy and a real saga.  I was reluctant to leave these people. I held my breath, I wondered, I wept, I smiled. I’ll be reading Foxmask in 2017, the follow up of this book. First time reading author Judith Marillier – New Zealand born and educated now living in Australia.

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I was impressed by this one and it was my first book by USA author Kristina McMorris. Historical fiction. The climax was tense and I wanted to close my eyes and jump a few pages! Perhaps it ended a little too tidily some might say, however I  found it very satisfying, and loved how the story circled around itself and even with one element having a bittersweet mirror image.

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Rachael Johns – Australian author produced two books in 2016 I loved, this was one of them.  Outback Sisters –  all that I love in a good romance novel. Add to that a good dose of rural Australia. There were plenty of little twists and turns, much drama and heartache, and of course love. If that wasn’t enough, I was also reminded of good times, when Rachael Johns mentioned The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) which took me off in a little indulgent reminiscence. And she also has two characters who love reading and love to discuss the books they read.

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Another Australian author I enjoyed. Historical fiction and debut novel. Set in the USA in the 1920’s. I loved the whole historical background and what it was like for women in those days. It was rather horrifying to read of some of the childbirth practices and attitudes prevalent in that time. A woman’s touch was certainly needed. penned an absorbing, clever book, with characters that came alive off the page. I enjoyed the drama, the humour, the sadness, the romance and the time period. Fantastic read. And totally adore the cover.

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I have come to love the romance books of UK author Sarah Morgan. Loved the #3 in the Puffin Island series. To my mind Sarah Morgan is tops at writing today’s romance stories. This one was charming and enchanting. Set in the winter wonderland of snow and Christmas – a wonderful backdrop. At first I was disappointed it wasn’t all on Puffin Island, but the English countryside was magical too. Loved the tension between the two main characters, the humour and the growing love. There was plenty of wisdom in the story and loved that too. Love her writing and the similes were often spot on. Perfection.

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Allegiance of Honour is #15 in this wonderful urban fantasy/paranormal series. I have loved every book in the series and this was another winner for me. As Nalini Singh (NZ author)  says it has an ensemble cast. Many of the characters from previous books are given updates on how life is going for them. As I love each and every one of these characters that was a delight for me. I took my time reading it. No skipping lines, I just wanted to savour it. Delicious!

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USA author J. R. Ward does it again. This soap drama series has intrigued me and the second one – this one – just left me wanting more of this dysfunctional family. I couldn’t wait to find out all the scandal that has gone on since last year’s book The Bourbon Kings. Of course I had to wait! A whole year, but it has passed and I eagerly began this book. I might even have peeked at the end – although it didn’t tell me that much. This is a book that you have to read every line because you just might miss something of one of the characters evolving story.

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I always love a new book from USA author Cathy Lamb. Toni is the narrator, one of three sisters who have a very special bond. They began their lives in Russia in the 80’s where it was dangerous for them. They were under the eye of the KGB and their large extended family were quietly escaping to the USA. While the story begins in America, every so often we go back to that time in Russia until every little horrific detail of that time is revealed. One of the mysteries that Toni holds a little part – how did their brother arrive to them one bloody night?

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Archangel’s Heartis #9 in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. In this book the focus is back on Elena and Raphael and their ever maturing relationship. This time they are off to Morocco where the Luminata have called all the Cadre (the group of archangels who rule the world), because one of the Cadre – Lijuan ruler of China is missing. Is she dead? Hiding out? Or gone into a deep Sleep that lasts for centuries?
This book made me want to reread and reacquaint myself again with the whole series. It was an absorbing and emotional read. Every detail needs to be read, you can’t afford to skip a line, everything counts. Fabulous writing, satisfying reading, the very best!

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This was my first introduction to USA author Karen Rose and her romantic suspense. Every Dark Corner introduces Kate Coppola – an agent I just loved. Despite stress and a personal history that might have levelled another, Kate dedicates herself to helping others, working to save those caught in the nets of depravity.  I highly recommend you get to know her.  She sits within a 5 star read.
I have since gone on to read the first one in the series and have the next one as well. Then I will be all caught up and waiting for the next one in the Cinncinnati series.

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Ah…USA author Mary Alice Monroe. Another in her Lowcountry series. It was everything I love in a story and it was just so good to go back in Taylor’s life to when he first was discharged from the Marines, after experiencing a terrible explosion that left him shattered and suffering from PTSD. He can’t cope with returning to his family for Christmas, finds crowds threatening, and his family are bewildered and find it difficult to understand.
This is a beautifully written story, it sucked me in right from the beginning and I loved every word and minute of it. It is a perfect Christmas story and is linked with little quotes and references to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Review

Wolfskin Juliet Marillier

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Wolfskin
Juliet Marillier
Published: Macmillan Australia
Date: 2002
Format: Large Paperback
Pages: 560
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Source: Own book
Rating:
5 stars           Add to Goodreads

Eyvind can think of no more glorious future than becoming a Wolfskin, a warrior devoted to the service of the mighty war god Thor. His closest friend, Somerled, a strange and lonely boy, has his own very different ambitions – yet a childhood oath, sworn in blood, binds these two in lifelong loyalty. Meanwhile, far away across the water, on the Light Isles, the king’s niece Nessa is beginning to learn the ways of the mysteries – though neither the young priestess nor her people can realize what lies ahead for them.” “Eyvind and Somerled seem set to follow very different paths: one becoming a fearless servant of the Warfather, the other a scholarly courtier.

Then a voyage of discovery, led by Somerled’s brother Ulf, brings the two friends together again in accompanying a group of settlers to some beautiful islands rumoured to lie across the western sea. However, their good spirits are dampened by a tragedy on board, which Eyvind begins to suspect may not have been an accident.” Ulf’s new settlement begins in harmony with the native islanders, led by King Engus. But one day, on a trip to a holy place of the Folk, a brutal murder occurs and that peace is shattered. It is now that Eyvind begins to feel the restraining ties of his boyhood oath…and to realize what sort of future Somerled had in mind for himself all those years ago.

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Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier, my first book read in 2016 and the first time I have ever read a book by this author. I wish to thank Sheree from The Eclectic Reader for suggesting this author to me when I was searching around for New Zealand authors in early 2015. 
What a saga, eventually I was swept up into the magic of storytelling. It took me a little while to be immersed in it, but once I was, I was reading into the night and picking it up as I ate breakfast! 
Eyvind was a character that I just grew to love more and more. His desire in life has been to be a wolfskin, a warrior who is brave, at the forefront of battle. Not surprisingly not expected to see old age either! Eyvind never expected to change from that path, but circumstances decreed otherwise. As Nessa says to him “Things never stay the same, Evyi. People change. Paths change. You cannot know, when you are young, what life will hold for you as a grown man or woman….. It seems to me there is always a choice, there must be.  No blood oath could make me act cruelly, or falsely, or in defiance of natural laws, no matter how solemnly it was sworn”.

As Eyvind makes his way in life, always truth, loyalty, friendship and honour guide his heart. But sometimes that is not enough and tough decisions and choices have to be made. Sometimes courage is being at the forefront of the truth, whatever the cost.
Somerled is thrust on Eyvind when they are boys and he takes him under his wing, teaching him what he knows and making a blood oath to be brothers loyal to each other. While Somerled had some extenuating circumstances, it was difficult to like him. I hated how he undermined Evyind’s belief in himself in terms of intelligence. I hated him for a lot more, but I don’t want to say what, so as not to destroy the story for any reader.
Nessa the priestess in training and niece of the King of the Light Isles was a joy, full of wisdom and courage and love. Hers was eventually a burden of deep sorrow, but as she says there is always a choice. I loved her relationship with the priestess Rona, I loved how she found her way forward.
I loved how the beliefs and views mingled – there is the Christian viewpoint through the viewpoint of the holy man Tadgh, the god of the Norse and the ways and beliefs of the Folk on the island. In many ways they all held values and truths that were similar.
I am reluctant to leave these people. I held my breath, I wondered, I wept, I smiled. It won’t be too long before I will be seeking out Foxmask, the second book in this duology.
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