My Favourite books of 2020… so far!

Last year I decided to do a post about my favourite books of the year so far (as of 30 June) and whilst this year I haven’t read quite as many books as last year at this point I decided to still do it. It’s always lovely to have the chance to celebrate amazing books!

At the time of writing this post I’ve read 115 books and have 20 five star reads that I simply can’t narrow down any further. These aren’t necessarily books published this year but the books I loved most that I’ve read this year. The books are in no particular order, I loved them all!

So here are my top 20 books of 2020 so far!

It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans

A new spin on It’s A Wonderful Life and it’s gorgeous. It doesn’t shy away from the severity of depression but manages to still be a feel-good novel. I loved this one and will re-read it again one Christmas!

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Dead Wrong by Noelle Holten

A brilliant crime novel that will have you on the edge of your seat. This is fast becoming a favourite new crime series!

Containment by Vanda Symon

This is the third book in the Sam Shephard series and she is now one of my most favourite characters. I love spending time with her in a new novel and I can’t wait to read more!

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

I haven’t managed to review this one as yet but I absolutely recommend it. It’s a novel about a teenage boy called Justyce who’s dealing with the racism in the society around him – from the police and from people in his school. He deals with it by writing letters to Martin Luther King. It’s a prescient novel and I still find myself thinking about it.

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

This is my new favourite Sarah Vaughan novel. It’s a novel about toxic friendships, about not feeling like you can be your true self with even your closest friends and what happens when suspicion sets in. I loved this book!

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

This is a stunning novel that looks at what caused a man to stop talking to his wife for six months, and what happens when she suddenly stops talking to him. We learn about what happened from both of their perspectives and it’s so moving. I adored this book and I already want to re-read it!

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

This is a stunning, claustrophobic novel about the immediate aftermath of a teenage girl going missing. It has a dream-like quality to it and I got swept away in this book.

Black and British by David Olusoga

I haven’t reviewed this book yet but it’s a brilliant and eye-opening non-fiction book that I recommend to everyone. It’s the forgotten history of black people in the UK and I learnt so much from this book. It helps you join the dots of the things you learnt at school and the full story of why and how things happened.

One Split Second by Caroline Bond

This book is heartbreaking but it’s a book I couldn’t stop reading (I read it in just two sittings). It follows the aftermath of an horrific car accident as the survivors come to terms what happened and the impact it’s had on their lives. I loved this book and it’s one that is really staying with me.

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This is a brilliant novel that packs so much into it’s few pages (it’s only around 200 pages long). It follows a doctor as she deals with race issues in her life in South Africa. Her struggles with her periods were so relatable in a way that I’ve never found in a novel before. Later something horrific happens to her and it was hard to read and yet I couldn’t look away. This is such a powerful and compelling book.

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

This novel follows a disparate group of people on a normal morning but who get caught up in a hostage situation. I loved learning about the characters in this book and how they coped in the terrifying situation they found themselves in. It’s an excellent novel and I recommend it.

Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie

I’ve not reviewed this book as yet but it’s one that I read as I was trying to get out of my reading slump and I just got completely engrossed in this story. It follows a few characters who live in a tower block in London before and after a terrible event occurs. I loved these characters, and how the novel explored how the event affects them. I recommend this one and can’t wait to see what Luan Goldie writes next!

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

I read and loved The Roanoke Girls a few years back so was keen to read the author’s new novel. I devoured it! It’s such a dark, unsettling novel but one that I just couldn’t put down. I still keep finding myself thinking about this book, it’s one that haunts you. I loved it.

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Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it absolutely lived up to my hopes for it. It follows Edward in the aftermath of a plane crash where he was the sole survivor. His parents and brother died in the crash so he has to live with his Aunt and Uncle. The novel also shows what happened on the day of the plane crash – you get to know, briefly, the people onboard, which makes it even more heartbreaking. I adored this novel and want to re-read it one day.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

This is such a powerful and moving memoir, I’m so glad I read it. Chanel Miller is the young woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner. This book is her telling her own story in her own words and she is such a courageous woman. I recommend that everyone read this one.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

I had this novel on my TBR for ages before I picked it up, which I’m kicking myself about as when I did pick it up I read it in just a couple of sittings. This is such a beautiful novel, one that makes you wonder about fate and destiny, and also makes you want to live in the moment. It’s a book you need tissues for but it’s such a gorgeous read.

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

I’m a huge fan of Carol Lovekin’s writing and this novel was another stunning book. It explores grief and the loss of a mother, and it’s so beautiful. I highlighted so many paragraphs as I was reading it and I keep thinking about it. I know I will re-visit this one of these days.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

This is another stunning book following a teenage girl in the present whilst also filling in her back story with chapters about her mum, dad and grandparents. She knows her mum was her age when she was born and that is the catalyst for everything that happens down the line. This book is short and at times spare in the writing but it packs such an emotional punch. I recommend it.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

This is one of my most favourite books of this year so far. I wanted to read it because it’s premise is intriguing (an engaged woman dreams of a different life with a different man and five years later she bumps into this man) but the real love story in this is the one between the two women who are the best of friends. It’s an incredible book, one that made me cry but also made me smile. I adored this one!

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

If I had to pick just one book that was my favourite of 2020 so far it would have to be this one. Before reading I felt a little intimidated by it but from a couple of pages in I was gripped. I love all the interweaved stories running through this book, I love the characters and the surprises along the way. It’s a stunning novel and one I will never forget.

Okay, so I said I had a top 20 books of 2020 and I do… all of the above. I always like to sit with a book for a while before I put it on a list of favourites but I read a book on the very last day of June and it just feels like it should be on this list. So I’m adding an honourable mention at the end. I know I’m cheating but it’s my blog, my rules! So the 21st book in my Top 20 is…

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

This is a stunning novel, one that I’m struggling to write about as yet because I loved it so much. It’s set on the North Yorkshire Moors and follows Jake, a man on the run from a murder charge. It explores his memories of his relationship with his late wife, and his lost son. It also looks at his complicated relationship with his new love. I’m originally from this part of the country and I felt I was right back there with Jake. This novel mixes utter desolation, hardship and violence with such beautiful, poetic writing. I loved this book and I highly recommend it!

What are you favourite books of 2020 so far? I’d love to know. 🙂

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman | @CharityNorman1 @AllenAndUnwin @annecater

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A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for five strangers whose paths cross in a London café – their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage.

But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?

 

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Charity Norman’s previous novels but I have to start by saying that The Secrets of Strangers is her best yet, it’s an incredible read!

The Secrets of Strangers is set in a small London cafe on an ordinary morning. The regulars are all their grabbing a coffee or a quick breakfast but this isn’t going to be a normal day for many of them. A row breaks out between the owner and a customer and it leads to everyone in the cafe being held hostage by a gunman.

The novel follows multiple characters throughout and we get to learn about everyone’s lives and their pasts and where they are in their lives. They all have their own problems and the novel explores one character’s infertility journey, another’s battle with addiction, and how one of them survived a genocide. All of these issues are explored in such a sensitive way and it really makes you feel for every single person.

The tension is immediate in this novel but it waxes and wanes as the novel progresses and we’re at the mercy of the mood of the gunman. At times the tension is palpable and I felt I was holding my breath, at other times I wanted to cry. I always felt like I was right there in the cafe with this group of people.

Charity Norman in a brilliant writer and whilst this novel explores some very difficult themes, there is some lightness to balance the darkness because of the way she makes everyone so real and so human. I ended up feeling a connection to every single person I read about and even now, weeks after I read this novel, I still find myself thinking about them.

This is a one sitting book – I picked it up one afternoon and I didn’t put it down until I’d finished reading it. I was experiencing a reading slump at the time and nothing was holding my attention but this book did and it’s a testament to the wonderful writing. I loved this novel, it’s my new favourite Charity Norman book and I strongly suspect it’ll be in my favourite books of the year list. I highly recommend it!

The Secrets of Strangers is out now in paperback, ebook and audio book and available here.

Many thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours and Allen & Unwin for my ecopy of this book and my blog tour invitation. All views are my own.

 

You can follow the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

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That Was The Month That Was… April 2020!

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April was such a strange month with the UK (and most of the world) on a lockdown. I’m housebound for much of the time anyway as I can’t physically leave the house without help but it’s still so weird not being able to go out even though my husband is home every day (he’s been furloughed). I’m in the high risk group so it’s all very worrying but day to day we’re doing okay. I’m so grateful that we have a small garden so can get some fresh air most days.

My reading and blogging mojo upped and left a while ago – partly because I was really unwell earlier in the year and then the anxiety about Coronavirus began mounting. Thankfully I’ve finally been able to finish some of the books I started weeks and weeks ago, and over the last week or so I’ve been reading more frequently. I’m hoping my reading mojo is properly on its way back and that my blogging will follow!

Whilst I haven’t been reading I have been catching up on some TV boxsets. My husband and I re-watched all of Life On Mars (which is brilliant!) and we finally finished watching Ashes to Ashes. Can’t believe we watched the first two series years ago and then never watched the final series. It was so good. We’ve started watching The Sopranos for the first time (somehow neither of us saw it when it was first on and we’ve both been keen to see it).  I’m still addicted to House of Games – BBC2 is currently showing repeats of the first series (which I’ve never seen) so I’m enjoying those episodes.

Anyway, I finished reading nine books in April (more than half were books I’d been reading on and off before April), which is a vast improvement on my reading in March. So without further ado…

Here are the books I read in April:

Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse

I bought this audio book on a whim when it was on a daily deal last year. My husband and I listened to it together during the first week or so of lockdown and it was so relaxing at a time of high stress. We discovered the TV series on BBC iPlayer that this book accompanies so we’ve since watched that too and it’s been such a tonic. I recommend both (even if you’re not into fishing!).

Strangers by C. L. Taylor

This novel was such a good read and was the first fiction that I managed to read over a short period in quite a while. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find my full thoughts here if you’d like to know more.

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff

As is often the case for me I gravitate towards non-fiction when I’m struggling to read and I found I wanted to read about people overcoming very difficult times so this one caught my eye on my Kindle. I found this such a moving, and sad book but it also had hope and a sense of healing running through it. It’s sensitively written and I recommend it.

One of Them: From Albert Square to Parliament Square by Michael Cashman

I’ve had this book on my radar ever since I first heard about it last year so when I spotted it on my library app recently I immediately reserved it. It’s such an honest and moving memoir and I found myself completely lost in Michael’s story.

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

This is a review book that I got from NetGalley fairly recently and I’ve been so keen to read it so picked it up. It took me a few days to read it but I did really enjoying it and I had no idea how it was all going to turn out!

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

This book is the one that really got me back into reading and I read it all in just two sittings! It’s such a good read and one that had me desperate to know what was going to happen and how things were going to end. I’ll be reviewing it for the blog tour in May but in the meantime I definitely recommend it!

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

As I began to get out of my reading slump I was craving a comfort read and decided to go back to the magic faraway tree – a much beloved series from my childhood. This is the first book and it was lovely to meet all the characters again.

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

This is a book that I’ve owned on ebook for around four years so when I spotted the audio book available on my library app I immediately downloaded it. I’m glad I did as I quite enjoyed the audio but I’m not sure I would have kept reading if I’d been reading the ebook.

Adele by Leila Slimani

This is another book I borrowed from my library’s app and I enjoyed it. I didn’t think it was quite as good as Lullaby but I still found it engrossing and I wanted to know how it was going to end.

 

April Blog Posts & Reviews:

Due to my reading and blogging slump I’ve only published two posts in April but hopefully May will be better. I managed to post my review of Strangers by C. L. Taylor earlier in the month and the on Wednesday I posted my WWW Wednesday Post where I shared what I’m currently reading, what I’ve recently finished reading and what I hoped to read next.   

 

 

How was April for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.

What was your favourite book of the month? Please tell me in the comments, I’d love to know.

Also, if you have a blog please feel free to leave a link to your April wrap-up post and I’ll be sure to read. 🙂

WWW Wednesday (29 Apr 2019!) What are you reading this week?

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

A similar meme is run by Lipsyy Lost and Found where bloggers share This Week in Books #TWiB.

 

What I’m reading now: 

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Just my Luck by Adele Parks

I just got approved for this book on NetGalley yesterday and I’ve been so keen to read it that I started it straight away! I’m enjoying it so far.

 

What I recently finished reading:

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

This is the book that really began to get me out of my recent reading slump and I read it in two sittings. It’s such a good book and I’m looking forward to sharing my review as part of the blog tour next month. In the meantime I highly recommend pre-ordering it!

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

I picked this up as I was trying to find a way back into reading and thought a much-loved book from my childhood would help. I did enjoy this one but not quite as much as I did when I was little.

Adele by Leila Slimani

I borrowed the ebook of this one from the library and it was an okay read. It kept me gripped all the way through but I didn’t feel as engrossed as I did when I read Lullaby. I’m glad I read it though.

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

I’ve had the ebook of this on my TBR for over four years so when I spotted the audio book was available on the library app I decided to get it and listen to it. This book wasn’t what I expected really, I’m glad I listened to it rather than reading as it kept me going with it when I might have put it down.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and its Private Consequences by Catherine Pelonero

I bought this book recently and have been keen to pick it up. I read a novel based on this case a year or two ago and have wanted to know more about what happened ever since. I hope to get to this one this week.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

I feel like while we’re on lockdown a book about people being trapped together might be interesting and this one grabbed my attention on my kindle!

Living My Best Life by Claire Frost

I’ve had a copy of this on my review pile for a while now and I think I’m just in the mood for it so hopefully I get to read it in the coming days!

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in WWW Wednesdays or This Week in Books please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

My August Reads

I know I’m late posting this but better late than never! I read some brilliant books during August from a variety of genres.

The New Woman by Charity Norman

Hide and Seek by Jane Casey

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

If She Did It by Jessica Treadway

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

The Sisters by Claire Douglas

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Only We Know by Simon Packham

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

The Blue by Lucy Clarke

Accidental Emeralds by Vivienne Tuffnell

A Proper Family Holiday by Chrissie Manby

Remix by Non Pratt