My Favourite Novels of 2020!

Today I’m sharing my favourite novels that I read in 2020! This has been such a strange year and books have at times given me solace and escape but then at other times (such as the last three months) I’ve barely been able to read anything at all. It means my favourite books of the year really are stand out books that have kept me sane this year. In the end I read 215 books over the course of 2020 and these are my standouts from the year!

So, in no particular order, here goes..

It’s a Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

One Split Second by Caroline Bond

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

Evening Primrose my Kopana Matlwa

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson

The Confession by Jessie Burton

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Once Again by Catherine Wallace Hope

Keeper by Jessica Moor

So there you have it… my favourite novels of 2020! I will also be doing my top non-fiction books of 2020 soon too but that will be a shorter list as I’ve read fewer non-fiction books over the last year.

What was your best book of 2020? I’d love to know. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Keeper |The Phone Box at the Edge of the World | Tales From the Cafe | Writers and Lovers | Summer

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini book reviews. I read most of these books before my reading slump really took hold so am now trying to get back to blogging and catch up on my reviews.

Keeper by Jessica Moor

I’ve been in an awful reading slump recently but I kept thinking about this book so decided to pick it up and I’m so glad I did. I found this to be such a stunning read and I found it really hard to put down. The novel opens with Katie Shaw meeting a man in a nightclub, the storyline then splits into past and present as we learn what happened to Katie and how she got to where she is now. I found this to be such a powerful read with a really sensitive and realistic portrayal of the aftermath of domestic violence and stalking. I know how hard it is for women to access support and this book really explores so many angles to this. The story is compelling and it is such a page turner as well as it being eye-opening. I finished reading this book a while ago now and I still keep thinking about it. I’m currently trying to work out my favourite books of the year post and I’m sure this book will be on my list. I highly recommend it!

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina

This novel is such a beautiful and moving read, I loved it. It follows Yui who lost her mum and her daughter in the tsunami. She discovers that there is a place where you can go and use a phone and talk to those you’ve lost and she decides to go there. While there she meets Takeshi and his young daughter who hasn’t spoken since her mum died. The novel follows both characters as they work through their pain and grief and as they try to find solace and a way to hold on to the past whilst also moving on. I found this book so hard to put down, it’s a novel that made me really tearful at times as I thought about that phone and how it must be to find some way of talking to those you’ve lost but ultimately I found this a really beautiful book and I very much enjoyed it.

Before the Coffee gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

I got a copy of this book from NetGalley and I read it before reading the first book about the cafe but it worked fine as a standalone. This novel all takes place in a cafe in Japan but it’s not an ordinary cafe. There is a table and chair in the cafe and if you sit down there you can go back in time to meet up with someone from your past but you have to leave them before the coffee gets cold. I loved this book, it was really moving to read the back stories of the characters and to find out why they have come to the cafe and why they feel they need closure regarding the past. I hope to read more about this cafe in the future!

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

This novel follows Casey who is dealing with heartbreak over a break-up and the grief of losing her beloved mother. She is working as a waitress and also working on her novel, which has been a work in progress for quite a few years now but she never seems to finish it. Then she finds herself in the middle of a love triangle and is finally pushed to make a decision about what she wants from life. I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up after reading the blurb as Casey seemed like her life was in a similar place to mine when I was her age. Casey’s life gets way more complicated than mine ever did but I could really identify with the grief she had for her mum and the way this seems to impact on her decision making. I read this novel quite a while ago now and it hasn’t stayed with me as much as I thought it would but I did really enjoyed it and I would recommend it.

Summer by Ali Smith

I’ve read and loved the previous three novels in this seasonal quarter so had been eagerly anticipating Summer and I’m so pleased to say that I loved it every bit as much, if not even more, than the previous books. Summer is set during World War 2 and during the pandemic in 2020 and I found it incredible. It was strange to read about the pandemic while we’re still living through it but it never felt too much. I loved how characters from previous books in the quartet appear in Summer and it felt like it brought us full circle. I will miss this quartet now it’s completed but I think I would read all of the books again in the future, it will be interesting years down the line to look back and see how they feel then. I definitely recommend all four books but start at the beginning with Autumn.

WWW Wednesdays! What are you reading at the moment?

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! 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: 

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

I’m still struggling to read but I picked this book up in the early hours of the morning and it immediately grabbed me. I’m gripped by this one and am keen to find out where it’s going.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a wonderful novel, I’ve very much enjoyed listening to it over the last few days. I’ve got the kindle book so I keep switching between the two formats and I’m loving it.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

I haven’t managed to read much more of this book this week as I just can’t manage to hold a physical book but I hope to get back to it soon.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Truth, Lies and O-Rings by Allan J. McDonald and James Hansen

I’ve had this book on my TBR for years now but I finally picked it up this week and I found it fascinating. I’ve always felt such a connection to the Challenger disaster and remember the day it happened like it was yesterday even though I was only just seven. I knew a lot about the disaster but there was still so much to learn from this book. I’m really glad I read it.

Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

I found this book gripping! I love the way it uses the plots of older murder mysteries, it really added to the book for me. I wish I could have read this when I was feeling better as I think it would have been one I read in one sitting but having said that it kept me occupied on quite a few sleepless nights.

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

This was my audio book from the last week and I’m not sure how I felt about this one. I enjoyed it but it didn’t engage me in the way her previous book did.

 

What I plan on reading next:

Keeper by Jessica Moor

I’ve had a copy of this from NetGalley for a few weeks now and I think I’m just in the mood to read it so hope to get to it this week.

Deadly Deceit by Mari Hannah

I read the first two books in this series when they came out and I really enjoyed them but somehow I didn’t read on. Anyway, I’ve been sorting out my huge TBR and this book jumped out at me so I plan on reading it this week and catching up with the series this year.

 

 

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. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays! What are you reading at the moment?

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! 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: 

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin

I’m such a huge fan of Carol Lovekin’s writing so have been eagerly anticipating her new book. I started reading it last night and it’s stunning, I want to read it slowly to make it last as long as I can.

Queenie by Candace Carty-Williams

I got this for my birthday last week and am really enjoying it. I was very lucky to get lots of books but I’ve been too ill to read any of them until now. I’ll do a book haul soon but Queenie was the one that called to me first and it’s such a good read!

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle

I’ve been reading this book on and off for the past three weeks and am finding it so interesting. It’s definitely motivating me to continue to find products that either aren’t plastic or things that can be re-used around my home.

 

What I recently finished reading:

Death Deserved by Thomas Enger & Jorn Lier Horst

This is such an excellent crime thriller and I loved it. It’s the best thriller I’ve read in a while and I highly recommend it. I’ve actually shared my review of it today so you can read my full thoughts there! 🙂 It’s the only book I’ve managed to read in its entirety over the last week so it must have been good!

Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

I’ve been reading this over the last month and finally finished it this week. It was such a nostaglic look back over the famous characters David Jason has played over the years such as Del Boy, Pop Larkin and Jack Frost. I enjoyed it and would recommend it if you’re a fan of the shows he’s been a part of.

 

What I plan on reading next:

The Lying Room by Nicci French

I’ve been wanting to read this for ages so when it popped up on a daily deal for Kindle yesterday I snapped it up and can’t wait to start reading it.

Keeper by Jessica Moor

I was lucky to received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and am so intrigued to read it so I think I might well pick it up this week!

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

This is another book that is calling to me from my NetGalley shelf! I love the author’s writing and this one sounds so intriguing!

 

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. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a brand new Book Haul (23 Nov 2019)!

new sts.png

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

Books and eBooks

The Body Lies by Jo Baker

This book has been on my radar for age so when I spotted it for 99p on kindle yesterday I snapped it up! I don’t think this one will be on my TBR for very long as I’m keen to get to it.

With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix

I bought this one on a whim when I spotted it on a Kindle Daily Deal yesterday. I think this sounds fascinating and it’s one I’ll have to be in the right mood for but I’m glad to own it.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

I’ve read the first two books in this series and have the third one so I couldn’t resist getting this fourth book in a deal this week. I do enjoy these books so I’m happy to have the next two to read now.

Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown

I’ve been wanting to read this book as I’ve heard such good things about it so I’m glad to have my own copy. I did get it on audio from the library a while back but I heard it has a lot of photos in it so I wanted to get it in ebook format instead.

Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans

I bought this as it sounds like such a lovely Christmas read and I’m gearing up to begin my festive reading properly as soon as December arrives!

Christmas at the Lakeside Resort by Susan Schild

I downloaded this book for my kindle on a total whim as I love the cover so much! It looks like such a Christmassy book and I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

 

Audio Books

Gone Fishing by Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse

I bought this one on an Audible daily deal as I thought it might be something my husband might enjoy listening to. It sounds like an interesting and relaxing audio book so I’m looking forward to this one.

Where the Light Gets In by Lucy Dillon

I bought this one on a whim when it was on an Audible daily deal earlier this week. I’ve read and enjoyed one of the author’s earlier novels so I’m glad to have this one on my TBR.

 

ARCs

Keeper by Jessica Moor

This is one of my most anticipated books for 2020 so I was thrilled to be approved to read it on NetGalley. I’m trying to hold off reading it until nearer the release date but I may give in and read this early!

Christmas at the Chateau by Lorraine Wilson

I couldn’t reply fast enough when I was offered the chance to read this book for the forthcoming blog tour as it sounds like such a lovely Christmas read. I’ll be picking this up very soon!

 

Have you bought any new books over the last week? Please tell me below. 🙂 If you join in with Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link and I’ll make sure to read and comment on your post.

It’s Book Bingo Time! Will it be a full house for 2018? #BookBingo

I’ve really enjoyed doing book bingo over the last couple of years so couldn’t resist the chance to see whether I’d successfully filled in my bingo card for 2018. As ever, I don’t look at the bingo card during the year I just read what I want to read and then at the end of the year look through my reading to see if I’ve managed a full house.

So without further ado…

img_8009

 

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

14201

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

A Forgotten Classic

43223987

The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

A Book That Became a Movie

IMG_1886

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

A Book Published This Year

35437614

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

A Book With a Number in the Title

36358192

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

A Book Written By Someone Under 30

33606119-2

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

A Book With Non Human Characters

36352249

One Christmas Wish by Katherine Rundell

A Funny Book

35235302

This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

A Book By A Female Author

36669495

The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin

A Book With a Mystery

KEEPER COVER AW 2.indd

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson

A Book With A One Word Title

29640815

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

A Book of Short Stories

23398781

Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes

Free Square

42791243

Snowday by B R Maycock

A Book Set on a Different Continent

IMG_2340

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia

A Book of Non Fiction

12332233

No Such Thing As Society by Andy McSmith

The First Book By A Favourite Author

19472157-2

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

A Book You Heard About Online

51ZJAzdewoL

Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

A Best-Selling Book

36217425

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

A Book Based on a True Story 

IJ - NEW COVER Isolation Junction-4

Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour

A Book At The Bottom of Your TBR Pile

46223

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

A Book Your Friend Loves

10893138

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

A Book that Scares You

38343858

I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

A Book That Is More Than Ten Years Old

51bD+cvFwWL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

The Constant Gardener by John le Carre

The Second Book In A Series

18214414

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

A Book With a Blue Cover

34257841

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

 


 

Woo hoo! Full House! I wasn’t sure when I started writing this post that I was actually going to have a book read in 2018 for every square but I’ve done it! It’s always fun to play Book Bingo, it’s another way to reflect on the year’s reading.

Have you taken part in Book Bingo for 2018? If you have I’d love to see your posts so please leave links below. 🙂

#BookReview: Keeper by Johana Gustawsson @OrendaBooks @JoGustawsson

KEEPER COVER COVER AW.jpeg

About the Book

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.
London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?
Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

 

My Thoughts

 

I read Johana Gustawsson’s first novel Block 46 last year and it was an incredible read (you can read my review here); it made my top books of 2017and even now, months later, I still think about the novel! So when I was invited to read Keeper I jumped at the chance and I’m really pleased to say that it’s a brilliant follow-up!

Keeper is told in dual timelines: one during the time of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel and the other in the present day where another serial killer appears to be back even though the police believed the killer was serving his sentence in Broadmoor. This novel features profiler Emily Roy and crime writer Alexis Castells again and it was so good to be back with them and seeing how they were after the last time they worked together.

I really liked seeing more of the relationship between Emily and Alexis. This case is closer to home because it turns out to have a connection to Alexis’ personal life, which puts her on a slightly different path in the investigation. Emily is very single-minded and once she’s on the track of something she very much focuses and it feels like she can’t let emotions come into it. It’s very apparent that Emily and Alexis do look out for each other though and I’m already really keen for the next book to be out so that I can be back with them both.

I loved in Block 46 how there was a connection between the two timelines, and Keeper is the same but again it had me beat! I thought I was on to something with connecting the dots and I was close but ultimately wrong. The ending had me stunned when the reveal came… this is one of those very rare books where the twist was genuinely something I didn’t see coming!

I have to mention the translator in this review. Maxim Jakubowski has translated this so well that it genuinely felt like I was reading a novel that had been written in english.

Johana Gustawsson is such a brilliant writer; there were moments in this book that turned my stomach as the writing was so evocative that it gave me a visceral reaction. I could sense the murky fog of whitechapel around me; I could smell the squalor of the living conditions and the rotting flesh. It’s not often that I feel so completely immersed in a novel but Gustawsson’s writing really gets under my skin. She takes her readers to the darkest sides of humanity and does it in such a way that you can’t look away even when it’s so dark and disturbing. Yet alongside this her writing is beautiful and so you simply can’t stop reading, even during the darkest parts.

Keeper is a deeply disturbing and unflinching novel that will leave you feeling very unnerved but it’s an utterly brilliant read and I can’t recommend it highly enough! I’m now eagerly anticipating whatever Johana Gustawsson writes next!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own.

Keeper is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Johana Photo

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following stops:

FINAL Keeper blog poster 2018