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!

dead wrong noelle holten

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.

dear edward ann napolitano

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. 🙂

That Was The Month That Was… June 2020!

June was one of those strange months that has sped by whilst also going really slowly. Does that even make sense?!

I’m still shielding and it looks like I will be until 1 August so nothing has really changed for me even though from what I see on the news a lot of the country is slowly returning to some kind of normality. I haven’t left the house yet, mainly because my asthma is really bad at the moment and it’s impossible to wear a mask when my breathing is already bad. My husband is still on furlough and we still don’t know when he’ll be returning to work, we’re waiting to hear.

Football is back so we’re enjoying watching that. It’s great having all of the matches televised although it does mean that some days we’re in danger of having square eyes! The waiting to see what’s happening with Newcastle United is getting endless now but what can you do?! At least it looks like we’re not going to be relegated!

My reading mojo is back in full swing and I read 30 books in June! It was helped by some sunny days in the garden where I only take a book out with me (no phone or laptop!) so I’m not distracted by anything. I also treated myself to some new wireless headphones so that I can listen to more of my audio books.

The Books I Read

The Posts I Blogged

Mini Book Reviews: The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper, The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel, His and Hers by Alice Feeney, and Funny Weather by Olivia Laing

Monthly Wrap-Up: That Was The Month That Was… May 2020

Mini Book Reviews: The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan, One Split Second by Caroline Bond, Living My Best Life by Claire Frost, and In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Mini Book Reviews: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell, When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill, Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa, and Born Lippy by Jo Brand

Review: Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

Mini Book Reviews: The Old You by Louise Voss, Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan, While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins, and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Review: Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

Mini Book Reviews: Heatstoke by Hazel Barkworth, Blurred Lines by Hannah Begbie, All The Lonely People by David Owen, The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

Review: The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

How was June for you? I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and that June has been okay. What was your favourite book from June? I’d love to know what you’ve been reading so please comment below. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Heatstroke | Blurred Lines | All The Lonely People | The 24-Hour Cafe

Today I’m sharing another selection of books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently.

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

This is such a brilliant read – so intense and claustrophobic but impossible to put down! The novel follows Rachel, mum to Mia and also teacher to her peers so when Mia’s friend Lily goes missing Rachel becomes increasingly obsessed with what might have happened. I read this book in the garden on a very hot day and it really added to the tension emanating from the pages I was reading. There are shocks in store in the novel but there is also a blending of what is actually happening and what is imagined to be happening, which gives the book a dreamlike feel. I got completely swept up in this and had no idea how it would all play out in the end. I definitely recommend this one!

Blurred Lines by Hannh Begbie

Blurred Lines is a prescient novel that really makes you think. It follows Becky who is on the verge of real success in her career but one night she walks into her boss’ house and sees him with a woman who is not his wife. Later the woman accuses him of rape and Becky is forced to think that what she saw may not have been consensual and is paralysed over what to do about it. The novel also goes back in time to Becky’s past and the awful thing that happened to her as a teenager which altered the course of her own life. I found this to be a really gripping novel and one that makes you put yourself in these women’s shoes and think about what you would do. It’s not always black and white especially when past trauma is still affecting you. I did find some aspects of the novel to be predictable but that didn’t stop me being gripped because I just wanted to know if Becky was going to be okay. I recommend this one.

All the Lonely People by David Owen

I had this novel on my NetGalley shelf unread for way longer than I should have and I’m kicking myself now because I very much enjoyed this book. It follows Kat who is very lonely, she has no friends at school but lives for her online friends. She becomes the victim of a cruel ‘prank’ which forces her to close her online accounts and she begins to literally fade away. It also follows Wesley who is part of the group who pranked her but we soon see he’s not like the other boys involved and he feels very guilty. We soon learn that he also has a lonely life and has more responsibility on his young shoulders than he should have. I found this such an insightful novel that really explores loneliness and what it’s like to just want to disappear from your own life. It moved me more than I thought it would and it made me think. The use of the fade is really clever and poignant. This is a book that I keep thinking about it and is one that I’m sure will stay with me. I highly recommend it.

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

This is book 7 from my 20 Books of Summer TBR!

I was lucky to receive an ARC of this earlier this year but somehow it lingered on my bookcase until last week. When I finally picked it up I devoured it in just two sittings and very much enjoyed it. It follows Hannah and Mona who work shifts in a 24-hour cafe in London. The novel first follows Hannah’s story, and then halfway through it switches to Mona. We see how they came to be friends and how close they are but also the way small hurts become bigger ones when not acknowledged. I really felt for both of them as the novel progressed. We also meet quite a few of the customers to the cafe as they briefly pass through and I loved this part of the book. There are small acts of kindness that run through the novel and it warmed my heart. I recommend this one, it’s a perfect novel to escape into during these strange times we’re currently living in. It will warm your heart!

WWW Wednesdays (3 Jun 20)! What are you reading this week?

WWW pic

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!

My Current Reads

They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd I’ve been thinking about how to learn more and understand more about #BlackLivesMatter and I spotted this book on my shelves and decided to start reading it yesterday. It’s an interesting and personal look at the beginnings of the movement and also what happened in Ferguson. I’m keen to read more so if you have any recommendations on where to go next please leave them in the comments below.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

I’ve been wanting to read this one since it was long listed for the Women’s Prize this year and again, as above, it called to me from my Kindle yesterday and I started reading it. The writing is beautiful and the characters are so real. I’m very much enjoying this book and am looking forward to reading more.

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

This is the first book that I’ve picked from my 20 Books Of Summer stack and I’m adoring it so far. It feels like such a good book to start with as it’s summery and easy to get in to. I’ve had this book on my TBR for years now and am wishing I’d picked it up sooner.

My Recent Reads

HeatStroke by Hazel Barkworth

I read this novel in one sitting yesterday whilst out in the garden and it was such a perfect way to read this book. This is one of those novels that has a strange dreamlike quality to it because of the intense heat that’s running through its pages. I really did love this book and I’ll definitely be looking out for more by this author in the future.

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

This is another novel that I pretty much read in one sitting as I simply had to know what had happened and how it was all going to turn out. It’s an exploration of motherhood and friendships, and the secrets and hidden thoughts we keep from others. I found this novel very moving and so well-written, and it had me gripped from start to finish.

Blurred Lines by Hannah Begbie

I requested this one from NetGalley as the blurb really caught my attention. It’s about the decision a woman takes not to report a suspected assault, but it’s also an exploration of what happened to her when she was younger. It’s a very prescient novel and one that should be widely read.

Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing

This is an essay collection that I had an eARC of but decided to buy the audio book and listen to it. I enjoyed a lot of the essays, although some felt too short and too surface level. On the whole I would recommend this one, and I’m keen to read more by the author in the future. I’ve already reviewed this one so click the title above if you’d like to know more.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

I’ve had a copy of this on my NetGalley shelf for over a year but for some reason hadn’t picked it up. I finally read it this week and I devoured it in a couple of sittings. I adored this book and am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. You can read my review by clicking on the title above.

Living My Best Life by Claire Frost

I also had a copy of this book for review but ended up borrowing the audio from BorrowBox and listening to it. I really enjoyed it, it was good escapist summer reading.

The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

When I posted my WWW Wednesdays last week I was waiting on the last stave of this from Pigeonhole so only had three or four chapters to read so most of it was read before this week. Anyway, the end was worth waiting for because it was so twisty! I very much enjoyed this novel and plan on going back and reading Phoebe Morgan’s previous novel soon.

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

This book is stunning! I read and enjoyed the author’s previous novel The Roanoke Girls but this book is even better. I can’t stop thinking about Evie and wondering how she’s doing now. If you like crime novels set in a small town then this is one for you! I’ve already reviewed this one so click the title above to know more of what I thought.

What I Might Read Next

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

This has been on my NetGalley shelf for ages and I still want to read it as much as I ever did so hope to get to it this week. I loved the author’s previous novel The Rumour so have very high hopes for this one.

Mine by Clare Empson

This is another NetGalley book and I’ve been wanting to get to this one for a while so am adding it to my TBR for this week and hopefully I’ll manage to get to it this week.

Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas

I’m such a big fan of Claire Douglas so am very excited to have a NetGalley of her forthcoming book and really want to read it asap. I hope to get to it this week!

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This is the next book that I hope to get to from my 20 Books Of Summer TBR. I’ve had a copy of this on my bookcase for around three years now and I still want to read it so hope to get to this one 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. 🙂