Saturday 31 December 2016

My Favourite Reads of 2016

Well hello there! I hope you've had a lovely Christmas (if you celebrate it). Jane-on-my-tree hopes you had a good one :)

2016 has been a tricky year for me, reading-wise as I've been constrained by time, however, I read some wonderful books this year. Less five star reads than in previous years, but still some very enjoyable books. I've also read some more audio books than previously. Unfortunately, I haven't reviewed everything I've read, something that I hope to remedy next year, but this is my pick of the bunch, with links to my reviews for a fuller view:

Book cover: Undeceived by Karen M Cox'Undeceived' by Karen M Cox was my first five star read of the year back in February. This is 'Pride & Prejudice' meets 007 - Darcy and Elizabeth in the world of international espionage, set in the 1980s. I have read a few books by Karen M Cox; one of my all time favourites is '1932', which is set in the US Depression, so I was pleased to take another trip with her to an era that JAFF rarely gets to, as so many of the stories are either Regency or modern day.

Book cover: Side by Side, Apart by Ann Galvia
'Side by Side, Apart' by Ana Galvia is a book full of feeling; this is a 'Pride & Prejudice' sequel which sees poor Elizabeth Darcy receive a head injury that leaves her with amnesia; she doesn't remember the previous decade of happy marriage to Mr Darcy - instead he is the last man in the world she could possibly have married, except she has. She cannot understand how this has come about, but must deal with this in addition to getting along civilly with her husband, being a mistress to an estate and to learn how to be a mama to the now unknown children in Pemberley's nursery. This was another five star read for me.

Book cover: Miss Darcy's Companion by Joana Starnes
My final five star pick was 'Miss Darcy's Companion' by Joana Starnes. This book is a 'Pride & Prejudice' variation that sees Miss Darcy get a companion; rather than Mrs Younge, a youthful Miss Bennet, whose father has died. Rather than meet at an assembly, Darcy first meets Elizabeth after she is employed by the Fitzwilliams as a governess and has charmed Georgiana as well as her youthful charges. We know from P&P that Darcy is different with his intimate acquaintance, "remarkably agreeable", in fact. How much of a difference would it make to Elizabeth's perception of Mr Darcy if she meets him under these circumstances?

Book Covers: George Knightley Esquire series by Barbara CornthwaiteI read a wonderful duology this year - the 'George Knightley Esquire' pair of books by Barbara Cornthwaite, which gives Mr Knightley's view of the happenings of Austen's 'Emma'. Of all Austen's heroines, I think Emma is the one who interprets things most incorrectly, so it's a wonderful story to get an alternate view of. One bonus of this tale, which I hadn't expected, is that there is a lot of humour in these books, particularly the first one, when Mr Knightley is happier. His relationship with his brother John is a real joy to behold.

Book cover: Jane and the Waterloo Map by Stephanie BarronI haven't read many of the books in Stephanie Barron's 'Being a Jane Austen Mystery' series, which see Miss Jane Austen as a sleuth, but the latest installment, 'Jane and the Waterloo Map' is well worth a read. This book finds Jane Austen discover a dying soldier, whose last words refer to a map. Join Jane on her adventure to work out the import of the map, and why the soldier was killed.

Book cover: The Trouble to Check Her by Maria GraceHow do you feel about Lydia Bennet? Not a fan? Would you like to read about her as the main character in a novel? Not really?! Well, I would suggest that you could give it a go by reading 'The Trouble to Check Her' by Maria Grace. This is a sequel to another novel but I read it without reading the first in the series. Here we see what Lydia might make of herself if somebody took the trouble to reform her character, from a petulant and spoiled flirt into somebody who has the self-respect to recognise and value her qualities aside from her personal attractiveness.

Book cover: Lady Susan by Jane AustenI hadn't realised until a few years ago that I actually hadn't read all of Austen's works. Oh, I read the main 6 and dipped into the juvenilia but I hadn't read 'Lady Susan' until a film was made of it. The film is called 'Love and Friendship' which is a little confusing, because there is a work in Austen's juvenilia called 'Love and Freindship' (note the different spelling!). Anyway, I wanted to see the film, so I read the book so I would have the 'real' story square in my head before seeing the adaptation. It was one of Austen's early works and is really quite surprising, as it's quite racy in some ways. Lady Susan is a very interesting character; she is charming and has nearly all the best lines, but she is also incredibly selfish and quite ruthless. It's well worth reading, and well worth watching too!

Book cover: The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel
I got introduced to another well-known character this year. Jack Caldwell's 'The Last Adventure of the Scarlet Pimpernel' sees Henry Tilney's brother, Frederick, becoming embroiled in an adventure with the Scarlet Pimpernel, who comes out of retirement due to a threat to his family. This a real rip-roaring adventure, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I read and watched 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' in preparation, a book that I had never even thought of reading, but I was so glad I did, because not only did I enjoy that book very much, but it added to my enjoyment of reading Jack Caldwell's book.

Book cover: The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James
Jenetta James' 'The Elizabeth Papers' takes us on an investigation of sorts - a modern day trust fund is endangered because of secrets from the past. What are contained in Elizabeth Darcy's secret papers, and can Evie find them? This is an unusual book, and one I really enjoyed. It jumps from the modern day mystery to scenes from Elizabeth's point of view, so that the reader knows exactly what happened, which is what the modern day characters are trying to find out.

Book Cover: Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane OdiweLet's jump to another time period, the roaring 20s, and a really fantastical idea for a story; what if... Jane Austen didn't really die in 1817, but instead was preserved and reanimated when her illness could be cured. Therefore she is brought back in the 1920s for 'Jane Austen Lives Again' by Jane Odiwe. Once you can accept the premise it's a fun story, seeing Jane adapt to how different life is 100 years after she had lived before, and finding people similar to the characters in her stories.

Book cover: The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Beau North and Brooke West
We'll take another jump back in time now, to the Regency, for another story with a paranormal twist. In 'The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy' by Beau North and Brooke West poor Mr Darcy is caught in a 'Groundhog Day'-style loop which sees him waking up every day in Kent on the day of his proposal to Elizabeth. Whether he proposes or not is his choice, and after the first refusal and resulting evisceration, he is not keen, as you can imagine. But how can he get back to his normal life?

Book cover: When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid
How about a minor character story? In Victoria Kincaid's 'When Mary Met the Colonel' the most unappreciated Miss Bennet finally meets somebody who sees her in her own right, and discovers that she has hidden depths. This is a book with some wonderful humour and a sympathetic view of Mary.

Book cover: Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter by Joana StarnesThe last choice I'd like to share with you is the most recently read of these, Joana Starnes gives us her take of what could have happened if Elizabeth and Darcy had undertaken a marriage of convenience... on one side at least. 'Mr Bennet's Dutiful Daughter' sees Mr Bennet becoming very ill while Elizabeth is visiting the Collinses in Kent. It becomes clear that Mr Collins has no intention of treating the Bennet women with any consideration and having refused one marriage that might have assured the future safety of the Bennets Elizabeth cannot justify doing it again.

If you haven't read these books then please accept them as suggestions of things you could add to your reading lists. You can see my reviews for more details :) Thank you so much for joining me this year, I appreciate your comments and support. Let me know in the comments what your favourite reads of 2016 were - maybe I can read them next year!

I hope that 2017 bring you good health, good times, good luck and good reading.


  1. Great choices, Ceri. I loved these stories too. I hope 2017 brings you as many wonderful reads! Have a Happy New Year!

  2. Wonderful list. Most I have read and the others are on my TBR. MBDD is in progress. Happy New Year!

  3. I am so happy you enjoyed so many of my favorites too! That you chose "Undeceived" by Karen Cox, "The Elizabeth Papers" by Jenetta James and "The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy" by Beau North & Brooke West amongst other of my favorites like Stephanie Barron and Joana Starnes--I am over the moon! Happy New Year indeed!

  4. Thanks for this list Ceri. I loved both Joana's as well as Many Lives & Undeceived and I have Elizabeth Papers& Side by Side on my wish list after reading such good reviews so will be reading those next year. Happy New Year

  5. Thank you Ceri! I'm so glad you enjoyed Undeceived :) This is a great lineup of books - congrats to all the excellent authors represented here. Here's to a great 2017!

  6. Nice selection of books, Ceri. Several are among my top books of the year, and I haven't read a few of these. That TBR list keeps getting longer. Lucky me! Thanks to these authors, several of whom I call close friends, for providing us with this wonderful array of unique stories and styles. Thanks to you for supporting authors, Ceri.

  7. Cute Jane Austen tree ornament. :)
    I nodded my head in agreement over your picks. I read all, but two of these and thought they were fantastic, too.
    Hopefully, you'll be able to read a pile of wonderful ones in 2017. Happy New Year!

  8. Great list, Ceri! I have some books you listed and really look forward to reading them!
    As I wrote on Claudine's blog, my favourite Austenesque was Find Wonder in All Things. Sometimes I still think about it! And I read it last March!!

    Happy New Year! :D

  9. Great Choices. I have read most of those and the few I didn't read on are my TBR pile. Thanks for sharing. It is always interesting to read of what books others treasure.

    Happy New Year.

  10. Ceri,what a list!! Must say that I've had the pleasure of reading quite a lot of your chosen books and I agree,they were fantastic reads!

    Love your Jane Austen ornament!!

    Best wishes for the New Year,Ceri. Hope it's a healthy and book filled one! ��

  11. Dear Ceri - I wish I had that for my Christmas tree, it's lovely! Thank you so much for including The Elizabeth Papers, it is a real honour to be in a list of great books and I am thrilled that you enjoyed it. Have a great 2017, Jenetta:-)

  12. Carole in Canada1 January 2017 at 20:59

    Happy New Year Ceri!
    I have read 7 of these books and loved them as well! I hope to delve into Stephanie Barron's books this year! I do love a good mystery! All the best in this new year!

  13. Happy New Year Ceri! I've read six of your list and all of the others are either on my TBR list or Wish List. Maria Grace's book about Lydia really surprised me. I hadn't expected to find her a sympathetic character at all. It's hard to pick a favourite from that six though as I've loved them all. I'm looking forward to getting to the ones on my TBR list. Jane and the Waterloo Map is on my audiobook TBL list.

  14. Thank you Ceri-I'm so honoured to find myself on this list with a group of wonderful authors I admire very much. You've absolutely made my day, my year!

  15. Terrific list, Ceri! I haven't read 5 of the books you have on your list and now I'm definitely eager to get my hands on them! I love knowing what everyone's favorites are. :) We share 3 favorites with each other this year. I'm so glad you enjoyed the George Knightley books, I adored them!

  16. I just posted by list today, and I'm happy to see we share several favorites. Happy New Year!

  17. Wow, Ceri, you're so kind!! Huge thanks for this, I'm over the moon to find both my books on your 2016 favourites list, and in such fabulous company! Love your Xmas tree 'Jane', just perfect! Have a great New Year, hope it bring you and your loved ones nothing but joy!


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