Top 10 Books to Read in 2017

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So with an incredibly successful reading year for 2016, I intend on having 2017 be just as fruitful when it comes to books. I’ve made quite a dent in my TBR pile, but not enough that I’ve lifted my book buying ban! Onwards and upwards I say, and here are the top ten books I want to get around to reading in 2017.

These books are in no particular order.

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

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At the end of Yellow Brick War, Amy had finally defeated Dorothy. Just when she and the rest of the surviving members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, they realized they’ve been betrayed—by one of their own. And Dorothy might not have been so easily defeated after all. – from Goodreads.com

This is the last book in the Dorothy Must Die series and I can’t wait to see how it ends! These books are so much fun and I’m sure it will carry on to the fourth and final instalment.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

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‘You can’t get around Kate Battista as easily as all that’ Kate Battista is feeling stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but the adults don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner. – from Goodreads.com

After reading Eligible this year, I’m branching out in the intervention genre and not just reading fairy tale retellings. This one is a reworking of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and will probably be similar to one of my favourite films 10 Things I Hate About You.

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

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Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers. – from Goodreads.com

I read A Study in Charlotte not too long ago and really, really enjoyed it! I absolutely love all things Sherlock Holmes and all things mystery, so this really was a hole in one for me. In 2017, the next book in the series is coming out and I can’t wait to read it!

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

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Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control. Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa? – from Goodreads.com

This is a book that has had a lot of buzz this year, but it’s only out in the USA and Australia, which means getting hold of a copy can be quite expensive if you’re on a minimal budget like I am. I’m hoping a UK publisher is going to pick it up and start distributing because the need to read this book is becoming unbearable!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown. – from Goodreads.com

The Three Dark Crowns Series is new from Kendare Blake and is an epic fantasy tale reminiscent of a Game of Thrones. This is a book I haven’t had a chance to pick up yet but it sounds so incredibly exciting, and will hopefully quench my thirst for a really good fantasy!

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

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On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not — their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world? – from Goodreads.com

This was my most anticipated read of 2017, but as the reviews came back it seemed there was some problematic content that needed to be addressed. I would still like to read this book to see what the problematic content is, to educate myself on why it is problematic and how we can erase these harmful descriptions and properly represent anyone and everyone.

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

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In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team. – from Goodreads.com

Anything that directly, or indirectly, involves the Lunar Chronicles I AM THERE. Winter was my most favourite read of 2016, and so the fact that we have something else to look forward to in the Lunar Chronicles universe makes me very, very happy!

The Heiresses by Allison Rushby

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When three teenage girls, Thalia, Erato and Clio, are summoned to the excitement of fast-paced London–a frivolous, heady city full of bright young things–by Hestia, an aunt they never knew they had, they are shocked to learn they are triplets and the rightful heiresses to their deceased mother’s fortune. All they need to do is find a way to claim the fortune from their greedy half-brother, Charles. But with the odds stacked against them, coming together as sisters may be harder than they think. – from Goodreads.com

This is another book I’ve been pining after for years! The synopsis of this book sounds so exciting, and opposite to Three Dark Crowns when the triplets are coming together not tearing each other apart! In fact, it will be interesting to see the dynamics between the two.

Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen by Alison Weir

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In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry’s one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal … – from Goodreads.com

I am completely fascinated by the Tudor period, especially Henry VIII’s six wives. You might think this subject has been done to death, thanks to Philippa Gregory, Antonia Fraser, Margaret George and many more, but I personally really love each individual interpretation, and this collection looks as though it’s going to be a different spin.

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

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The discovery of a dead infant in an Amish barn shakes Lancaster County to its core. But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure: circumstantial evidence suggests that eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the newborn’s mother, took the child’s life. When Ellie Hathaway, a disillusioned big-city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide — and for the first time in her high-profile career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own. Delving deep inside the world of those who live “plain,” Ellie must find a way to reach Katie on her terms. And as she unravels a tangled murder case, Ellie also looks deep within — to confront her own fears and desires when a man from her past reenters her life. – from Goodreads.com

I am also fascinated by the Amish and their way of life, so when I realised Jodi Picoult had written a book that delves into the world of the Amish, I knew I had to read it. I haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, but hopefully I’ll get around to it this year.

So this completes my list of books I hope to read in 2017. Are there any books here you’re looking forward to reading? Or have I missed off one of your most anticipated? Let me know in the comments!

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Another 25 Facts About Me

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Considering the last 25 Facts blog post went down so well, I thought I would do another… just in case you don’t know me well enough already! So here are another 25 facts about me.

  • My second novel is titled Losing Lola and it’s a contemporary murder mystery.
  • My Ilvermorny house is Horned Serpent.
  • I try my hardest to buy cruelty free products where possible. Boots (UK) own-brand products are always affordable and good quality, as are Superdrug.
  • My wand is 10 and three quarter inches, made from Willow with a Unicorn Hair core.
  • I enjoy reading physical books and eBooks. Some readers seem to prefer one or the other, but I like both.
  • I am currently learning French on Duolingo (as part of my Promises and Wishes list), and am currently 30% fluent.
  • A portion of the books I own I bought whilst I was travelling on my gap year, so I have the international copies instead of the UK editions.
  • I adore all three of Charlie Simpson’s solo albums (Young Pilgrim, Long Road Home and Little Hands), and I never get tired of listening to them.
  • Whenever I travel to a new country, I try to buy a postcard as a memento.
  • I love listening to audio-books, namely the Chronicles of Narnia series and the Harry Potter series.
  • I have a warm skin tone and I look best in bright, crisp and clear colours.
  • I have written two books and I have vague outlines for at least another two, one of which I hope to write this November during NaNoWriMo.
  • Some other series that I love are The Lunar Chronicles, The Divergent Series, The Hunger Games and The Heather Wells Mysteries.
  • I have a passion for photography and usually take pictures on my phone when the inspiration strikes.
  • I love writing letters to people and have pen-pals who I write to regularly.
  • I have a very small, very faint birthmark in the shape of a diamond on my stomach.
  • Before I was born and all throughout my life, my nickname has been Hubble.
  • Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree is one of my favourite albums of all time. It reminds me of when I began to develop my own music tastes.
  • This year, one of my dreams, that Busted would get back together and reunite on stage, was completed. My friend Rob and I saw it happen with our very own eyes at Wembley Arena.
  • Another of my favourite albums is Paramore’s Brand New Eyes. It was the first time someone had perfectly summed up the angst I felt about the world. I won’t ever forget how free it made me feel.
  • I love to draw, and often draw costumes, blueprints and ideas for my books.
  • I recently got another tattoo on my wrist of the letter H in my father’s handwriting. Those who know me well will know the significance.
  • The series I want to start soon are the Name of the Star series by Maureen Johnson, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, and the Comoran Strike series by JK Rowling.
  • I really love reading and watching non-fiction pieces on True Crime.
  • I am participating in the 2016 Classics Challenge and have currently read 12.

So that’s all for my latest 25 facts about me. Let me know in the comments section if you want to see more of these types of posts and whether you share facts in common with me!

Author Interview: A Solitary Romance by Violet Sparks

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Are you looking for the perfect summer contemporary? Something to read on holiday, on a sun lounger, cocktail in hand? Look no further.

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Violet Sparks has released her debut romance novel, A Solitary Romance, and the first book in the Only Love series, which follows Katrina Crimshaw and her double life. An auditor by day and jewelry blogger at night, she meets the man of her dreams and her life becomes even more complicated. Juggling success under a pen name with her day job and continued encounters with Robert, a man from her past that she adored from afar, proves complicated for the shy bean counter. When an attractive museum director enters her life, all bets are off as the day dreaming Katrina tries to make sense of her predicament.
When passion flares in this second chance romance, will she let love slip through her fingers again?

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Violet on the ins and outs of being an author.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I generally write in the third person limited or omniscient style.  I have to say, I begin by the seat of my pants and allow my characters full reign.  About one-third to half-way through the book, I’ll sit down and outline the rest of the novel to keep things on track.  At this point, I’ve got a good idea where all the personalities will end up.

How did you come up with the title?

The main character, Katrina Crimshaw, is a jewelry aficionado.  She runs into a man from her past, someone she found incredibly attractive but was too shy to pursue.  I combined the idea of a solitaire ring, representing her love of jewels, with the loneliness that sometimes accompanies someone who is fearful or shy, and came up with A Solitary Romance.

What books have most influenced your life most?

The Bible has had the biggest impact on my life.  The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk who lived in the 1600s, is an amazing book that I can read over and over.  Coming Out of the Ice by Victor Herman also affected me—it’s a wonderful tribute to the human spirit.  I can’t leave out the books by Dickens, Austen, and the Brontë sisters, which I read in my youth.  Their works definitely lent an idealism to my mindset (which does not seem to belong to this century!), and shaped my ideas of what romance and love should be. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice to other writers is to keep on writing!  Find a good editor you enjoy working with and don’t rush your writing process.  Read and write as much as possible and do not allow others to discourage you. 

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

I’ve always loved how Charles Dickens could weave a story together with unforgettable characters and intersecting plots.  I appreciate how he inserted humor in his books as well.  I admire the way William Faulkner packed a punch and how the Brontës created amazing atmospheres, including unexpected twists in their stories.  The contemporary author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, is a master of characters, atmosphere, and storylines.   

What genre do you consider your book(s)?

A Solitary Romance is a sweet, or clean and wholesome, romance.  It is book one of the Only Love Series, which currently consists of three books.  I have also written mysteries under a pen name.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I haven’t yet had a serious writer’s block.  With every book, I do come to a place where I just have to grind out the story.  I don’t particularly enjoy this part of my writing process, but I’ve yet to escape this phase.  Luckily, it only lasts for a chapter or two, and then I’m over the hump.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

I would not say that I’ve hated any of my work.  Anything can be polished, rewritten, examined with a fresh eye, or edited for improvement.  I do go through some fear each time I start a new book.  Will I be able to come up with anything funny?  Can I do the characters justice?  Will unnecessary details hinder the story?  In other words, how can I possibly pull this off?

What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

I cannot pick a favorite a genre.  All of my books have at least a hint of romance, so maybe that’s my top choice.  The Only Love Series is straight-up romance, although the third book, A Calculated Romance, has a touch of suspense and mystery.  I like to incorporate a twist or even several unexpected events in my novels, so that’s a theme to look for.

Where did your love of writing come from?

I have always loved storytelling.  My mother used to catch me as a toddler making up stories for my own entertainment.  She fostered my love of writing by introducing me to classic literature in grade school, and I won writing awards as a teen.  Then, life and career got in the way.  I always hoped to return to writing, and the encouragement of a friend got the ball rolling for me. 

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part of penning A Solitary Romance was just taking the plunge.  I experienced a personal loss around the time that the idea started to sprout.  I think this book provided a much needed distraction during those first, early stages of grief.  With its overall light tone, the writing allowed me a welcome reprieve from reality.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

A Solitary Romance is ever so slightly autobiographical.  I enjoyed reliving my early career days and the fun I had with one of my girl pals.  Also, because everything in the book felt familiar, it required little research.  I appreciated how my writing could flow without stopping to investigate other subjects.  Because I love the arts, I savored drawing on my experiences at a major auction house.  There’s a scene in the book where a character helps her friend squeeze into a gown in a dressing room by very creative means.  This actually happened, and my friend managed to fit me in that tight, red dress by the same method!  Just thinking about that little episode brings a smile to my face!

Do you write every single day?

I find I produce my best work when I am writing every day.  I aim to write six days a week, although I’ve slipped off a little this summer since my children are out of school.

Which writers inspire you?

So many authors inspire me.  At the top of the list are Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, the Brontës, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Irène Némirovsky for her spectacular, unfinished, Suite Française.  I went through a stage where I only read history or biographies, and I greatly admire the work of David McCullough.  His books read like novels and bring the people of the past alive.  I always appreciate any writer who can surprise me with a plot twist or unexpected outcome.

What are you working on at the minute?

I am beginning the research for a novel set in the medieval period.

What is your latest book about?

My latest book is third in the Only Love Series, A Calculated Romance.  This is the story of Katrina’s assistant, a young rock hound named Landi, and what happens when her path crosses with that of James Crimshaw.  James is featured in the first three books of the series.  He is Kate’s brother and a naval intelligence officer.  Both he and Landi have murky pasts and a strong attraction to each other.

A Solitary Romance is available to buy from Amazon

Find out more about Violet’s books at: https://violetsparksauthor.com

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