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. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays (17 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!

Current Reads

The Old You by Louise Voss

I’ve only read the first couple of chapters of this novel but I’m already gripped. This is about a married couple – Lynn and Ed. Lynn gave up her career when she married Ed and now he’s been diagnosed with early onset dementia. But as strange things begin to happen, she wonders if it’s her mind playing tricks rather than Ed’s. I can’t wait to read more!

All the Lonely People by David Owen

This book has been on my NetGalley shelf for a lot longer than it should have been but I finally picked it up a couple of days ago and am enjoying it. It is following two teenagers – Kat who has been the victim of a horrible campaign to get her to delete her blog and all of her social media, and Wesley who played his part in the campaign but is already feeling guilty about it. Kat suddenly begins to literally fade and become translucent and I’m so intrigued about what is going on!

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

This is a fascinating social history of black people in Britain. The author has researched all the way back to roman times and it’s such an eye-opening and interesting book. It’s a book that I’m learning a lot from but at the same time it’s incredibly readable. I highly recommend this one and I’m keen to keep picking it up.

Recent Reads

While I was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

I picked this book up from my 20 Books of Summer TBR yesterday and read the first couple of hundred pages while sitting out in the garden. By then I was too gripped to put it down so I read the rest last night! This book follows Maddie as she wakes from a come after being hit by a car. Life has change quite a bit for her and she has a lot to get used to. It also follows Chloe who is a hospital volunteer who gets to know Maddie’s fiance Ryan. This book was so much more than I thought it was going to be and I very much enjoyed it.

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill

I enjoyed this book, which I picked from my NetGalley shelf last week. It’s about Liam who moves back into his ex-wife’s home when she’s diagnosed with a terminal illness. When Jennifer dies Liam is convinced it’s suicide but the police think it’s murder. I’m intrigued to read more and to find out what did happen to Jennifer and who, if anyone, is involved. I’ve already reviewed this one so you can find out more here.

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

This was another pick from my 20 Books of Summer TBR and is another book that I read in one sitting. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking read that I utterly adored. It follows a couple who have been married for over 40 years but Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for the last 6 months. The novel opens with Maggie attempting suicide and what follows is the story of their lives, of why Frank stopped speaking and why Maggie took those pills. This book is stunning, I was enthralled the whole way through it and I still keep thinking of Frank and Maggie. I highly recommend this one.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

I’ve had a copy of this book on my TBR for around a year but I’ve seen so many recommendations of it that I picked it up this week and I read it all in one go. It follows Justyce, a black teenager who one night finds himself wrongly arrested because of the colour of his skin. He then begins writing letters to Martin Luther King and he tries to live more as Martin did. This novel explores so many aspects of racism, and of how insidious it is. This is a book that will smash your heart into a million pieces but it does leave room for hope. I can’t put into words how brilliant this novel is and I’m so glad I read it.

Picky Eaters by S. J. Higbee

This is a short story that is being published this week (my review will be posted in the coming days!) and all proceeds are being donated to NHS charities. This is a story about grumpy grandfather dragon who just wants a quiet life but now he has to look after his grandchildren, and they want to do their own thing. It’s a great escape of a read and I recommend it!

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I listened to this book on audio and I definitely recommend this medium as it follows Bri who wants to become a top rapper and throughout the audiobook you hear the raps she has written and performed. Bri is such a great character, she truly believes in herself and her music and doesn’t want to let anyone stand in her way. She faces a battle when people assume her lyrics are saying things she didn’t mean and then is judged as being an another angry black girl. She continues to fight her corner and to stand up for herself and her music. I recommend this one!

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This is an incredible novella that explores xenophobia through the viewpoint of Masechaba, a young doctor in South Africa. This book packs so much into its few pages and I was spellbound by it. Masechaba’s struggles with her own body through her periods was so visceral and relatable, and later the horrific thing that happens to her along with the aftermath was so hard to read and yet I couldn’t look away. I very much recommend this one!

What I Might Read Next

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

On the morning of Monday 23rd December, Jamie Buckby takes the commuter riverboat from his home in St Mary’s, southeast London, to work in Central London, noting that his good friend and neighbour Kit Roper has not turned up for the 7.30am service they usually catch together. At the London Eye, where he disembarks for his job in a café behind the South Bank Centre, Jamie is met by the police. Kit has been reported missing by his wife. As Jamie is taken in for questioning, he discovers someone saw him arguing with Kit on the boat home late on Friday night. The other passenger believes Jamie committed murder. But what really happened? 

I’ve enjoyed Louise Candlish’s previous novels and the blurb of this one sounds so good and I can’t wait to read it!

The Gin O’Clock Club by Rosie Blake

Lottie is always in a hurry, rushing through her days ticking tasks off her to-do lists. Teddy is worried about his granddaughter – and he knows that his late wife, Lily, would have known exactly what to say to make things better. Now that Lily has gone, it’s up to Teddy to talk some sense into Lottie. With the help of Arjun, Geoffrey and Howard, the elderly reprobates who make up his Gin O’Clock Club, Teddy makes a plan to help Lottie find her way back to the things that really matter – family, friendship and love. But as Lottie balances a high-powered job with her reluctant attendance at whist drives, ballroom dances and bingo, Teddy wonders if she’s really ready to open up her heart to the possibility of true happiness…

This sounds like a fun summer read so I’m adding it the TBR of books I hope to read in the coming week.

How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister

You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good? Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back. The only choice is to disappear. From their family, their friends, even from Lauren’s husband. No goodbyes. Just new names, new home, new lives. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new. As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is much harder . . .

The blurb of this book sounds so good and so intriguing so I’m keen to get to it as soon as I can.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. 

I was very lucky to receive an ARC of this book and have been so looking forward to reading it as I’m a massive Maggie O’Farrell fan. I didn’t want to pick it up in the midst of my reading slump so I’ve been waiting until I was back on track and now I simply can’t wait any longer to read it!

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. 🙂

Mini Book Reviews: Evening Primrose | When the Time Comes | Born Lippy | You and Me, Always

Today I’m sharing mini reviews of some of the books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. The first is one that I’ve had on my NetGalley shelf for a little while and the other three are all books from my 20 Books of Summer TBR so I’m happy to have got to all of these books.

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill

I didn’t realise this was the third book in a series until after I’d finished it but it works perfectly as a standalone. This novel follows what happens in the wake of Jenny Buckley’s death. Her estranged husband says it was suicide but the police think it was murder. The novel follows the perspectives of quite a few characters and goes back and time to just before and after Jenny’s death. I loved the way we slowly build up a picture of who everyone is and begin to suspect what might have happened and whether anyone else was involved. I did think there were perhaps too many story strands going on and one in particular involving the detective was distracting. Having said that I was invested in finding out what happened and I did enjoy reading it.

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

This novel was different to what I was expecting but I very much enjoyed it all the same. It opens with Lily opening the last letter her late mother had written for her and this leads to Lily going looking for her mother’s first love. She also discovers that her best friend Patsy is hiding a man in her flat, and she accidentally meets this man! The book follows Lily and the people in her life and it’s so heartwarming and such a lovely read. It’s perfect for some escapist summer reading and I recommend it.

Evening Primrose by Kopana Matlwa

This is an incredible novella that explores xenophobia through the viewpoint of Masechaba, a young doctor in South Africa. This book packs so much into its few pages and I was spellbound by it. Masechaba’s struggles with her own body through her periods was so visceral and relatable, and later the horrific thing that happens to her along with the aftermath was so hard to read and yet I couldn’t look away. I added this book to my 20 Books of Summer TBR and I’m so glad that I finally got to read it because it’s an incredible book and I highly recommend it.

Born Lippy: How To Do Female by Jo Brand

This was one of my 20 Books of Summer TBR and the first one I read and I really enjoyed it. Jo Brand tells her stories and gives advice in her own unique way and it was exactly the book I needed. I sometimes feel (even as a 41 year old) lost that I don’t have my mum and when you need advice or guidance that you haven’t anyone else to ask where do you go? Jo Brand writes in a no-nonsense fashion about all kinds of situations that woman find themselves in and I really appreciated it. There is her trademark humour running through the book too, which lightens is where lightness is needed. I’m so glad that I got the chance to read this book and I recommend it.

WWW Wednesdays (10 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!

Current Reads

Picky Eaters (part 1) by S. J. Higbee

I’m cheating slightly putting this one on my currently reading as I haven’t started it yet but it’s a short story that I’m planning on reading today so I’m counting it here. This is a story about grumpy grandfather dragon who just wants a quiet life but now he has to look after his grandchildren, and they want to do their own thing. It sounds like the escapist read a lot of us need and I can’t wait to read this one this afternoon. All proceeds from the sale of this short story are going to mental health charities so it’s for a great cause. You can find out more about this short story here.

Evening Primrose by Kopana Matlwa

This is the next book I’ve picked from my 20 Books of Summer TBR. I’ve had this one my TBR for around three years and I finally picked it up yesterday and am very much engrossed in this novel. It’s exploring race and gender from the perspective of a junior doctor in South Africa. The protagonist is having to deal with increasingly xenophobic attitudes and has to decide how to handle this in the wake of the life she is building for herself.

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill

I only read a few pages of this one before I went to bed last night but it’s definitely caught my interest already. It’s about Liam who moves back into his ex-wife’s home when she’s diagnosed with a terminal illness. When Jennifer dies Liam is convinced it’s suicide but the police think it’s murder. I’m intrigued to read more and to find out what did happen to Jennifer and who, if anyone, is involved.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

I’m listening to this on audio and it’s brilliant. I definitely recommend the audio as it follows Bri who wants to become a top rapper and throughout the audiobook you hear the raps she has written and performed. Bri is such a great character, she truly believes in herself and her music and doesn’t want to let anyone stand in her way. She faces a battle when people assume her lyrics are saying things she didn’t mean and then is judged as being an another angry black girl. She continues to fight her corner though and I’m hoping she makes it to the top. This is such a good read and I definitely recommend.

Recent Reads

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

This was my second pick from my 20 Books of Summer and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t the book I thought it was going to be but I enjoyed it all the same. It follows Lily as she opens the last letter her late mum left for her, and she discovers the full name of her mum’s one true love. On the same day she finds a move star hiding out in her best friend’s house and develops a crush! The novel follows what happens next. It’s a lovely, feel-good read and I recommend it for perfect summer escapist reading!

Born Lippy: How To Do Female by Jo Brand

This was the first book I picked from my 20 Books of Summer stack and I’m so glad I finally got to this one. Jo Brand gives her no nonsense perspective and advice on life and being a woman. Some parts of this book made me laugh, and others were exactly the to the point advice I need at the moment. I recommend this one!

They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery

I picked this book off my Kindle in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and I’m so pleased that I read it. It’s a good introduction to the Black Lives Matter movement – how it began and how it has evolved. I felt I knew a lot of what happened in the timeframe this book spans but there was still a lot for me to learn. It’s a heartbreaking read. My cousin is mixed race and lives in America and I fear for him every single time I hear of another murder of an unarmed black man. I know his struggle but I also know I need to educate myself more.

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay

I listened to this book on audio this week and it broke my heart. Lemn Sissay is a black man who was brought up with a white foster family. The book tells the story he was told, the story of what the social workers said happened and Lemn’s own truth. It’s a really tough read, to know of the lies and harm that was caused to one boy through so many people in positions of power relative to him is disturbing. It’s a book I recommend to everyone though, it’s one that really stays with you and makes you think.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

This is a stunning book. I read it in just two sittings and was completely engrossed in the story being told. The novel is set in 2001 and it’s Melody’s coming of age graduation. The story is told from multiple points of view and goes back and forth in time between the present and 16 years ago when Melody’s mum got pregnant with her. This is a novel that weaved it’s way through me and I keep finding myself thinking about these characters, they felt so real to me. The writing is stunning, and to tell such a powerful and poignant story that has such impact in 200 pages is incredible. I already want to go back and read this again and I’m sure I’ll come back to it in the future.

What I Might Read Next

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

I’ve had a hardback copy of this book on my bookcase for a while now but it’s physically too heavy for me to hold it so I’ve bought the ebook so I can read it now. I want to understand more about the roots of racism in this country and this seems like an excellent place to start.

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

This is the next book I’m picking from my NetGalley shelf and I’ve been so looking forward to this one. It follows a group of friends who meet up the for the weekend after one of their number has died. I think secrets are revealed and the past has to be confronted! I love books about the complexities of female friendship, and also any books full of secrets and lies so I think I’m going to really enjoy this one.

Be Careful What You Swipe For by Jemma Forte

I was thrilled when the author offered me a copy of this book as I’d seen it online and thought it looked like a good summer read. It’s about a woman on a dating site looking for a man and she finds one but then it doesn’t work out. It’s a novel about the perils of online dating and trying to find Mr Right. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

The Old You by Louise Voss

This is my next pick from my 20 Books of Summer TBR and is one I really want to get to this week if I can. I love Louise Voss’ writing and this has been on my shelf unread for longer than it should have been. This is about a married couple- Lynn and Ed. Lynn gave up her career when she married Ed and now he’s been diagnosed with early onset dementia. But as strange things begin to happen, she wonders if it’s her mind playing tricks rather than Ed’s. This sounds so goos and I can’t wait to read it!

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 (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. 🙂

My 20 Books of Summer 2020 TBR!

Today it’s time to put together my TBR for the 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. I love taking part in this easy-going summer reading challenge as I use it as a chance to push me to read the books that seem to be languishing unread on my book shelves. I’ve had mixed results in previous years – I usually manage to read 20 books but they’re often not the books I chose, or in the format that I wanted to read.

Last year I decided to challenge myself to read 20 physical books and I did achieve it (only just in the nick of time though)! Even though this year I’m only just coming out of an awful reading slump I’ve decided to attempt the same again as I really need to focus on reading some of my physical TBR. Ultimately I just want to read more of the hardback and paperback books on my shelves so if I end up deviating from this list I don’t mind as long as I read as many physical books as I can!

So, here are my picks for the 2020 Books of Summer!

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

I was delighted to be sent an ARC of this book as I’m a huge Maggie O’Farrell fan. The only reason I’ve not already read it is because of the horrible reading slump I’ve been in. Thankfully I’m coming out of that now and this book is the one I most want to get to!

The Confession by Jessie Burton

I got this book for Christmas last year and have been saving it to read as it’s a novel that I want to pick up and get completely engrossed in. The summer months feels like the right time for that so I’m putting it on my TBR!

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

I’ve had this book on my TBR for five years and I don’t know why it keeps getting left on the shelf as I really enjoy Jill Mansell’s writing. I definitely want to get to it this year so it’s on the TBR!

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

I was delighted to be sent a copy of this book before it was published as I adore Ruth Hogan’s writing. I feel like this is another book that will be perfect to read on a summer day in the garden so here’s hoping for some lovely sunny days.

Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This is another book that I’ve had on my TBR for a long time, and I don’t know why as when I picked it up this week to read the blurb I immediately wanted to read it. It’s a short novel so I should definitely get to this one.

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

I was so excited to read this short story collection when it was first published and so was thrilled to get a copy of it for Christmas that year and yet somehow have still not read it. I think it’s good to have short stories on a TBR, something you can dip in and out of, so I’m picking this collection and I’m really looking forward to picking it up.

The Old You by Louise Voss

I was sent a signed copy of this book by the lovely Meggy and I’ve been so keen to read it but somehow haven’t picked it up yet. I’m a big fan of Louise Voss so still very much want to read this one and will be making a priority to read it this summer.

While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

I got sent a copy of this book from the publisher a long while ago and I just haven’t managed to read it yet. I’ve loved all the other books that I’ve read by this author so am looking forward to getting to this one.

Spring by Ali Smith

I loved the first two books in this seasonal quartet and was delighted when my husband bought me a copy of spring when it came out in hardback. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet but I know I want to get to it before Summer is published so I must make sure to get it in the coming weeks.

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

I received a surprise copy of this book from the publisher a few weeks ago and have been looking forward to picking it up so it seemed right at add it to my summer reading plans.

The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page

This is another book that I was lucky to receive for review and I’m so looking forward to it. I loved The Lido by this author so I really am keen to get to this one very soon. It feels like it’ll be a lovely summer read.

Yuki Means Happiness by Alison Jean Lester

I’ve had this book on my bookcase for around three years now and during a recent cull I read the first chapter of this one to see if I still wanted to read it and it was so good that I kept it. I’m looking forward to reading more soon.

Born Lippy by Jo Brand

A lovely blogger friend sent this book to me a little while ago and I’ve been meaning to get to it so I’m putting it on my TBR for summer as it’s good to have some non-fiction on the list. I think I’m going to enjoy this one!

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

I was sent a copy of this from a lovely publicist at the end of last year and after reading a fab review on Linda’s Book Bag recently I was reminded of just how much I want to read this novel.

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

I got this book for Christmas last year and have deliberately kept it to read in the summer as it sounds like such a wonderful, nostalgic novel. I can’t wait to get to this one and it may be one of the first books of this list that I get to!

After Dark by Dominic Nolan

I read and enjoyed the first novel in this series and have been eagerly anticipating the follow up ever since. I was thrilled to receive a proof copy and am definitely going to get to this one in the next few weeks.

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

My husband got me this book for my birthday this year and it’s a book I’ve heard such good things about so I’m keen to read it. I’ve seen Megan on Louis Theroux’s documentaries so I’m interested to learn more about her and her life.

The High Moments by Sara-Ella Ozbek

I was sent this book near Christmas last year by a lovely publicist and have been intrigued by it ever since. I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner but I’ll definitely try and get to it over the next three months.

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

My husband bought me this book for my birthday after we’d been gripped by the Chernobyl TV drama series and I wanted to know more about what happened. I’m still keen to read this so hope to get it over the summer.

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

Given my concentration levels come and go at the moment I think it may be a bit odd that I’m adding this doorstop of a book. I’m not sure I’ll be able to read this one at the moment but I so badly want to read it so I’m adding it to my TBR in the hope I can feel more able to read it later on in the summer.

So here are all the books I hope to read this summer!

Are you taking part in the 20 Books of Summer? What have you got on your list? Have you read any of the books on my list and recommend them? Feel free to share a link to your Books of Summer post below. 🙂

See my new #BookHaul in my Stacking the Shelves post! (1 Jul)

stacking-the-shelves

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

 

I bought these books:

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

A Manual for Heartache by Cathy Rentzenbrink

I’ve had this on pre-order ever since I first heard about it as Cathy’s previous book The Last Act of Love is one of the best, and most moving, books I’ve read in the last couple of years. This new book feels like it will have a similar impact on me and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis:

When Cathy Rentzenbrink was still a teenager, her happy family was torn apart by an unthinkable tragedy. In A Manual for Heartache she describes how she learnt to live with grief and loss and find joy in the world again. She explores how to cope with life at its most difficult and overwhelming and how we can emerge from suffering forever changed, but filled with hope.

This is a moving, warm and uplifting book that offers solidarity and comfort to anyone going through a painful time, whatever it might be. It’s a book that will help to soothe an aching heart and assure its readers that they’re not alone.

Gemma Dowler

My Sister Milly by Gemma Dowler

I hadn’t heard anything about this book until I saw Gemma being interviewed on This Morning a couple of days ago and I knew I had to read this book. I’ve already started reading it and it’s so moving.

Synopsis:

‘My name is Gemma Dowler. On 21 March 2002, a serial killer named Levi Bellfield stole my sister and sent our family to Hell…’

Everyone thinks they know the story of Milly Dowler.

Haunting headlines about the missing schoolgirl splashed across front pages. The family’s worst fears realised when her body was found months later. The years of waiting for the truth, only to learn that the killer, known to the police, lived just yards from where Milly had vanished. The parents subjected to horrific psychological torture at a trial orchestrated by the murderer. And the shocking revelation of what journalists would do for a story – criminal acts that brought down a national newspaper.

But these bare facts hide the true story.

In My Sister Milly, Gemma Dowler shares the heartbreaking account of Milly’s disappearance, the suspicions that fell on the family, the fatal errors made by the police, and the media’s obsession that focused relentlessly on every personal, intimate and emotional aspect of the Dowlers’ lives. It is the story of two stolen childhoods – Milly’s and Gemma’s – and about the love that kept the family together as they struggled with terrible darkness and injustice.

However, this book is a story of hope and recovery.

It’s taken fifteen years of pain for the family to find their voice. The family has worked hard and has received intensive therapy to recover from the trauma of Milly’s murder. Their story shows that whatever suffering you endure in life, there is always hope, and there is always love.

Now, for the first time, Gemma tells their story and that of the real Milly. Above all, in this book the family want to bring back to life their incredible daughter and sister. Now, finally, the truth about Milly Dowler can never be denied.

Dear you by Tessa Broad

Dear you by Tessa Broad

I’ve seen a few people chatting about this book on social media so have been keen to read it. I think this will be a tough book to read but it seems like it will ultimately be a healing and uplifting read.

Synopsis:

Tess Broad wanted children. She longed for them. It wasn’t to be.

In this candid and moving memoir, Tess writes to the children that never were. She writes to them as their adult selves with openness and honesty and tells them of the childhood she envisaged for them and the mother she believed she would be. She describes her reluctant transformation from the woebegone, wannabe mummy that she once was, to the woman she is now; childless but chilled, sailing through Mother’s Day with a smile on her face. Happy.

From the ‘trying for a family’ stage to the relentless treadmill of infertility treatment, Tess recounts her story with humour and pathos, taking the reader on her journey with her, sharing her experiences, the roller-coaster ride of IVF, the sudden departure of the husband whose children she wanted to have and ultimately to acceptance that the life she wanted and expected was not hers for the taking. This is a breathtaking memoir that offers a shoulder to lean on for everyone experiencing the uncertainties and pain of infertility.

Maurice by E.M. Forster

Maurice by E.M. Forster

I read this book many years ago and it’s always stayed with me so when I spotted the ebook at the bargain price of 99p I snapped it up. 

Synopsis:

As Maurice Hall makes his way through a traditional English education, he projects an outer confidence that masks troubling questions about his own identity. Frustrated and unfulfilled, a product of the bourgeoisie he will grow to despise, he has difficulty acknowledging his nascent attraction to men.

At Cambridge he meets Clive, who opens his eyes to a less conventional view of the nature of love. Yet when Maurice is confronted by the societal pressures of life beyond university, self-doubt and heartbreak threaten his quest for happiness.

Reckless by Chrissie Hynde

Reckless by Chrissie Hynde

I’ve been wanting to read this memoir for ages now so when I saw that Kindle had a sale on selected memoirs and this was included I immediately downloaded it. I hope I can read this soon as I think it’ll be such an interesting read.

Synopsis:

By the time she was 14, Chrissie Hynde knew she had to get out of Akron, Ohio. Her perfect ’50s American childhood upturned by a newly acquired taste for rock ’n’ roll, motorbikes and the ‘get down boys’ seen at gigs in and around Cleveland – Mitch Ryder, the Jeff Beck Group, the Velvet Underground and David Bowie among the many.

Wrapped up in the Kent State University riots and getting dangerously involved in the local biker and drug scenes, she escaped – to Mexico, Canada, Paris and finally London where she caught the embryonic punk scene just in time not only to witness it first-hand, but more importantly to seize the opportunity to form her own band, the Pretenders.

Iggy Pop, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Vivienne & Malcolm, Ray Davies … on every page household names mingle with small town heroes as we shift from bedroom to biker HQ; from squat to practice room; from pub gig to Top Of The Pops – the long and crooked path to stardom, and for the Pretenders, ultimately, tragedy.

That Chrissie Hynde is alive to tell the tale is, by her own admission, something of a miracle. Throughout she is brutally honest, wryly humorous and always highly entertaining. She has written one of the most evocative and colourful music memoirs to be published in recent years.

All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

This is another book that I’ve heard so many good things about and so when I spotted this in the monthly kindle deals earlier this week I grabbed it. 

Synopsis:

So, the thing is, I come from the world we were supposed to have.

That means nothing to you, obviously, because you live here, in the crappy world we do have.

But it never should’ve turned out like this. And it’s all my fault – well, me and to a lesser extent my father.

And, yeah, I guess a little bit Penelope.

In both worlds, she’s the love of my life. But only a single version of her can exist.

I have one impossible chance to fix history’s greatest mistake and save this broken world.

Except it means saving one Penelope and losing the other forever – and I have absolutely no idea which to choose . . .

A House Full of Daughters by Juliet Nicholson

A House Full of Daughters by Juliet Nicolson

This is another kindle book that was in the sale and it sounded like such a fascinating book that I couldn’t resist it. 

Synopsis:

All families have their myths and Juliet Nicolson’s was no different: her flamenco dancing great-great-grandmother Pepita, the flirty manipulation of her great-grandmother Victoria, the infamous eccentricity of her grandmother Vita, her mother’s Tory-conventional background.

A House Full of Daughters takes us through seven generations of women. In the nineteenth-century slums of Malaga, the salons of fin-de-siècle Washington DC, an English boarding school during the Second World War, Chelsea in the 1960s, these women emerge for Juliet as people in their own right, but also as part of who she is and where she has come from.

Who Rules the World?- Reframings by Noam Chomsky

Who Rules the World?: Reframings by Noam Chomsky

I bought this on a whim as it sounds like an interesting read. I don’t know when I’ll get to read it but hopefully it won’t be too long.

Synopsis:

Noam Chomsky is the world’s foremost intellectual activist. Over the last half century, no one has done more to question the great global powers who govern our lives, forensically scrutinizing policies and actions, calling our politicians, institutions and media to account.

The culmination of years of work, Who Rules the World? is Chomsky’s definitive intellectual investigation into the major issues of our times. From the dark history of the US and Cuba to China’s global rise, from torture memos to sanctions on Iran, Chomsky explores how America’s talk of freedom and human rights is often at odds with its actions. Delving deep into the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine, he provides nuanced, surprising insights into the workings of modern-day imperial power.

The world’s political and financial elite have become ever more insulated from democratic constraints on their actions. Chomsky shines a powerful light on this inconvenient truth. With climate change and nuclear proliferation threatening the survival of our civilization, the message has never been more pertinent or more urgent: the need for an engaged and active public to steer the world away from disaster grows ever greater.

Fiercely outspoken and rigorously argued, Who Rules the World? is an indispensable guide to how things really are from the lone authoritative voice courageous and clear-sighted enough to tell us the truth.

 

I received two review books:

 

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Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa

This book arrived in the post yesterday and it’s such a beautiful book, my photo doesn’t do it justice. The book sounds like such a powerful novel and I can’t wait to start reading it.

Synopsis:

With urgency and tenderness Evening Primrose explores issues of race, gender and the medical profession through the eyes of a junior doctor.

When Masechaba finally achieves her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, her ambition is tested as she faces the stark reality of South Africa’s public healthcare system.

As she leaves her deeply religious mother and makes friends with the politically-minded Nyasha, Masechaba’s eyes are opened to the rising xenophobic tension that carries echoes of apartheid.

Battling her inner demons, she must decide if she should take a stand to help her best friend, even it comes at a high personal cost.

 

IMG_9552

The Other Twin by Lucy V. Hay

I’d already been sent an advance ecopy of this book by the publisher but the print copy arrived this week and it’s a stunning book. I’ll be reading this very soon as I’m on the blog tour for it in July.

Synopsis:

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its well- heeled families, The Other Twin is a startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth …

 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too.:)

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.