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Five Star Books of 2016

The following books are all the books I rated five stars over the last year. I must admit I haven't read as many five star reads this year as I have in previous years but these are all crackers. So in no particular order (mostly because I can't work the list down to a top 10) here are my favourite reads of 2016

Books from my favourite UKYA authors
I love UKYA and these were my favourite books from some of my favourite UKYA authors in 2016.

London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning


Seventeen-year-old Sunny's always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she's sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she's got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London - starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can't even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of char…

picture books for christmas

This year I've actively been seeking out picture books and over the last month I've read through a lovely selection which would be awesome for Christmas presents for little people.

Snowflake in my pocket by Rachel Bright


From highly acclaimed picture book maker, Rachel Bright, comes a visually stunning, feel-good picture book filled with Yu Rong’s distinctive, awe-inspiring papercut artwork. The snow is coming – Bear can smell it! Squirrel is so excited – he’s never seen snow before! But when the snow arrives, Bear suddenly falls sick. Can Squirrel still bring some silvery, sparkly, magical whiteness to his best friend? Featuring a cut-out window in Squirrel's oak tree home, giving readers a sneak-peek to the wintry world outside, this delicately-crafted book captures the cosy, cuddly feeling of sharing a snowy night with a loved one, and is the perfect read for parents and children to treasure together – at Christmas and all year round.

I loved this book. It has…

Chrsitmas TBR pile

This year I've had a tough one reading wise. I've read half the books I normally read in a year and I decided about a month ago that if I didn't do something my reading would fizzle out completely by mid December. I decide that this year I would actively seek out a pile of Christmas themed reads which I really really wanted to read so I had lots of awesome books I was dying to get started on as soon as it got to December.

I ended up with this lovely looking pile.


There's a nice mix on here of books I have bought myself and a few review titles I've been saving up for December. I've also tried to get a nice mix of adult and YA titles.

So where do I start??

British Books Challenge: Link up your December reviews here

Onto the final month of the challenge of 2016. Thanks to all who have participated over the year and stuck with it to the bitter end. I'm close to finishing my 100th book by a British author this month.

If you've enjoyed the British Books Challenge this year and want to sign up for more next year I am passing the baton to Michelle from Tales of Yesterday to host in 2017. I'm certain she will do an awesome job and make the challenge bigger and better than before. Head to her sign up page here.

First up the winner of November's prize pack is Bibliobeth for her review of Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy. Please email me to claim your prize.

As always please link your reviews below and do go and sign up for The British Books Challenge in 2017 over with Chelley.





November review

This month has not been a good one for me reading wise. I've been spending too much time hand making lots of Christmas presents and watch too much netflix snuggled up in bed because it is the warmest place in the house now the cold snap has reached the Norfolk Coast. Both of those things meaning I've read barely anything by my standards. I was a little bit naughty at the end of the month starting my Christmas reads a few days before December started.

Books read
 We come apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian ConaghanOptimists die first by Susin NielsenWaking in time by Angie StantonVictoria by Daisy GoodwinThe stranger in my home by Adele ParksBlood for Blood by Ryan GraudinI'll be home for Chrismas anthologyChristmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Book of the month

We come apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan.





Historically I've not been  a fan of poetry on the whole but there's something about Sarah's writing which made me rethink that after readi…

Can't wait to read

Just two books this month but both ones I am desperately waiting to read

Unconventional by Maggie Hardcourt


Lexi Angelo is a Convention Kid - she's got a clipboard and a walkie talkie to prove it.

Aidan Green is a messy-haired, annoyingly arrogant author and he's disrupting her perfect planning.

In a flurry of awkward encounters, lost schedules and late-night conversations, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned... Things like falling in love.


I've heard nothing but awesome things about this already and it isn't out until February. I love Maggie's first book and can't wait to get this. 

Margot and Me by Juno Dawson



Sometimes love has to cross all kinds of barriers . . .

Fliss is on the way to visit her grandmother in Wales - the grandmother who she doesn't get on with - with her mother who is recuperating from chemotherapy. But her mum is getting better, that's the main thing, so Fliss can concentrate on being grouchy and not looking forw…

The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My thoughts 
I am a bit ashamed to admit that Nicola's first book passed me by so this was my encounter with her writing. I adored it and am kicking myself that it took so long for me to discover her writing.

I f…

British Books Challenge: Sign up your November reviews here

I've had an awesome month reading British Authors. Everything I've read has been a title by a British author and I'm hoping this will mean I'll get 100 titles by British authors read this year. How's everyone else getting on?

The winner of last month's prize pack is Sarah from Feeling fictional for her review of the BFG. Please email me Sarah to claim your prize.

This month I am giving away a copy of Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Steven (or the first book in the series if you've not started it... whatever suits you best). I've not started it myself but I thought it would make a lovely Christmas read for whoever wins at the end of the month.




As always links below please

October Review

Not a bad month for me reading wise. I've been reading a lot of my own books because I've been to busy to review much

Read in October
The Next Together by Lauren JamesThe Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca RaisinUnder Rose Tainted Skies by Rose GornallA Quiet kind of Thunder by Sara BarnardThe Creeping Shadow by Jonthan StroudComing to England by Floella BenjaminHow to Find Love in a bookshop by Veronica HenryWing Jones by Katherine WebberSummer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny ColganWelcome to Rosie Hopkins Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan No Virgin by Anne CassidyMeet me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny ColganThe one memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr Book of the Month


I adored this book. It was impossible to put down and I loved the relationship between the main characters. You are all in for a treat when this is published early 2017

November's TBR pile
The One memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
Welcome to Nowhere …

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood #4)

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud


Lucy has left Lockwood & Co. A freelance operative, she is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills.

But now Lockwood needs her help.

Penelope Fittes, leader of the well-renowned Fittes Agency wants Lockwood & Co. – and only them – to locate and remove the ‘Source’ for the legendary Brixton Cannibal.

It’s a tough assignment. Made worse by the tensions between Lucy and the other agents – even the skull is treating her like a jilted lover!

What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving their closest rivals may just do the trick.

But not all is at it seems. And it’s not long before a shocking revelation rocks Lockwood & Co. to its very core . . .


I love this series. I won't say too much because I don't want to spoil the book or earlier books in the series.  The books are a perfect mi…

The Last Beginning by Lauren James

The Last Beginning by Lauren James.


The epic conclusion to Lauren James' debut The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel.

Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove's investigation?

For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.


I had been looking forward to this for a while and I was so pleased to receive an early copy and actually managed to find time for a reread of the previous book before reading it.I'm so glad I did manage a reread of book one as it meant all the subtle crossovers between the book weren't missed. 

If you loved The …

Can't wait to read

Forever Geek by Holly Smale


My name is Harriet Manners and I’ll be a geek forever…

Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is.

Modelling isn’t a sure-fire route to popularity. Neither is making endless lists. The people you love don’t expect you to transform into someone else. Statistically, you are more likely to not meet your Australian ex-boyfriend in Australia than bump into him there.

So on the trip of a lifetime Down Under Harriet’s to-do lists are gone and it’s Nat’s time to shine! Yet with nearly-not-quite-boyfriend Jasper back home, Harriet’s completely unprepared to see supermodel ex Nick. Is the fashion world about to turn ugly for GEEK GIRL?

It’s time for Harriet to face the future. Time to work out where her heart lies. To learn how to let go…

I cannot wait for this book I've loved the series completely and can't wait for the final book.

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen


Beware: Life ahead.

Sixteen-year-old Petula de Wilde is anything but wild. A former…

We found a hat by Jon Klassen

We found a hat by Jon Klassen (Hat Trilogy #3) 

Goodreads Synopsis
Two turtles find one hat – and it happens to look great on both of them.

My thoughts
I love this series. Book one and two are my go to buys when I need to buy a present book for yet another friend who has produced another small child because they are very easily enjoyed by both small child and by the adult forced to read said book in a near comatose state because of the sheer tiredness associated with being a new parent regardless of whether said parent is an enthusiastic reader or not. I loved this latest addition. The story is subtle and clever with a lot of the darker parts clear to the adult reading and not so obvious to the child. I love how subtle changes in the pictures, particularly the eyes, really change the tone of the scene. This particular installment did not go how I expected it to go at all and I really loved it. I'll be buying lots of copies this Christmas for all the small children on my christmas…

We were on a break by Lindsey Kelk

We were on a break by Lindsey Kelk

Goodreads Synopsis
Is it a break? Or is it a blip? 'You've just had a holiday,' I pointed out, trying not to yawn. 'Wasn't that enough of a break?' 'I don't mean that kind of break.' There's nothing worse than the last day of holiday. Oh wait, there is. When what should have been a proposal turns into a break, Liv and Adam find themselves on opposite sides of the life they had mapped out. Friends and family all think they're crazy; Liv throws herself into work - animals are so much simpler than humans - and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he's dug. But as the short break becomes a chasm, can they find a way back to each other? Most importantly, do they want to?

My thoughts 
I really enjoyed this book. I don't read huge amounts of adult books but I do like adult contemporary like this and am increasingly seeking them out.

I liked this because the story was sweet and funny and I really…

Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

Goodreads Synopsis
Floella Benjamin reveals the hopes and fears, and the pain she experienced when leaving the Caribbean for an unfriendly new life in England. Her feelings are shared by any child who has had to adapt to a new life in a strange environment and culture.

My thoughts
This was an incredibly quick read for me but one I'm glad I took the time to pick up. It is the story of Floella Benjamin and her family who came to England about the same time as Windrush after the Second World War. It gives you detail of her life before and after her move and all the worries and troubles her family faced as a result of hostility and racsim faced when they moved. While this story is several years old I think in our current political climate of fear and mistrust of immigrants this is a story that needs to be shared.

Jinks and O'Hare Funfair Repair by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Jinks and O'Hare Funfair Repair

Goodreads Synopsis
Emily loves living on Funfair Moon - especially when she gets to help Jinks & O'Hare, the extraordinary repair team. But when chaos strikes during a crucial funfair inspection, Emily has to act fast. Can she deal with a violent fudgesplosion, a gravity inversion, and a marauding candyfloss creature? Or does this spell doom for Funfair Moon?

My thoughts
I love books by this duo. The stories are fun and always accompanied by a series of brilliant illustrations which add to the experience. This latest offering is no exception and I enjoyed Emily's story immensely. It made me chuckle and I'm looking forward to sharing with some young readers I know. I read it in one greedy gulp because it was so much fun.

Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

Bison are banned and tigers are taboo. Say goodbye to the gnu, cheerio to the cheetah and poo poo to the panda. The world of Lesser Spotted Animals STARTS HERE! Discover the brilliant beasts you never knew you needed to know about - from the numbat to the zorilla and everything in between. Martin Brown's wonderfully funny and fact-tastic writing, teamed with his fabulous illustrations and tummy-tickling jokes, is a winning combination.

I really enjoyed this book. It isn't the sort of thing I usually review but I've just started teaching Geography to a reasonably bottom set Year 7 class and I thought this would be handy. It has nice double page spreads on different animals you've probably not heard of because they aren't so well known. The animals included are fascinating with lovely pictures and nice facts about them. It is definitely the sort of facts I could use introduce more unusual animals to my class when teaching about different habitats across the gl…

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Goodreads Synopsis
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the…

Kid Got Shot by Simon Mason (The Garvie Smith Mysteries #2)

Kid Got Shot by Simon Mason (The Garvie Smith Mysteries #2)

Goodreads synopsis
Meet Garvie Smith. Reprobate, genius, waster, and sometime detective. Right in the middle of revision hell - until now. A boy from Marsh Academy has been shot, with no clear motive and no clues. Disgraced DI Singh is on the case, and he's determined to keep Garvie away. But Garvie knows he's the only one who has any idea where to look for the answers. Starting with his best friend's girlfriend. And it's going to take more than pointless revision or flunking his exams to stop him getting involved. Exams. What exams?

I really like the Garvie Smith Mysteries series. Garvie Smith is clever and incredibly bright as well as being a huge pain in the bum. If I taught him he'd be one of those kids that drove me completely around the bend. I really enjoyed this latest instalment in the series because it was thoughtful and kept me guessing throughout. A teen Sherlock Holmes for a modern gen…