Earlier this year I published my Top 8 books of the first half of 2020. These are my Top 8 books of the second half of the year. There are so many more, but I have tried to cut it down.

Her Last Words by Kim Kelly

There is something very personal about Her Last Words. It feels as though the author has lived it and suffered it in some shape or form. Penny Katchinski, for instance is a Catholic Jew (as am I), and I don’t believe it’s incidental. I can’t imagine your hero would have that background unless you had a reason. I may be wrong of course, but it resonated with me in such a personal way.

For my full review click here…

The Cry of the Lake by Charlie Tyler

This book is absolutely stunning. I can’t praise it enough. I read about 70% of the book in one sitting. The story is intricately woven and at first I couldn’t quite work out what was going on, but then it just got better and better. The plot involves teenager Lily (who can’t speak or won’t speak) and her older sister Grace. Grace is out for revenge and we know the girls have taken on new identities, but what have they fled from and why.

For my full review click here…

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

I finished this book while in the car on the way to The Vyne (a National Trust place near Basingstoke) to see my 19-month old granddaughter Clara for the first time since February – and before you comment I wasn’t driving. Needless to say I was already feeling emotional.  By the end – of the book that is – I was in tears. The journey wasn’t that bad.

It is simply stunning. Unlike my usual feast of psychological thrillers and police procedurals, this book will make you laugh and cry in equal measures, though towards the end you will probably cry and cry like I did.

For my full review click here…

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Every once in a while you know you have read something special, something original, something so overwhelmingly beautiful and sad that you feel like your heart is breaking. Mirrorland is that something. Dark and unsettling, the more you read, the more you cannot imagine what the next chapter holds. It’s like holding your breath underwater, afraid to surface, yet more afraid to remain.

To say this book is fantastic would not do it justice. It’s just brilliant and amazing and every other adjective I can think of.

For my full review click here…

The Thriller Collection by Alan Gorevan

This is just so good. I only meant to start the first story and ended up reading the first two back to back until well gone midnight. If I hadn’t had to get up early I’d have read the third one straight after.

I loved all three stories – probably a toss up between the first and the last as to which is my favourite. One event in the middle one was too upsetting to put it at the top. The author might guess what I mean. I look forward to reading more of his work.

For my full review of all three stories click here…

The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Bjorg AEgisdottir Translated by Victoria Cribb

What can I say. This is just brilliant. I read it over three days while visiting my son – mostly while travelling to and from (no I wasn’t driving – again see Miss Benson’s Beetle above – I often read while travelling) and at bedtime. Everything about it is exciting, chilling, scary, I could go on with a list of adjectives. It’s the perfect police procedural but there is also so much more.

The Creak on the Stairs also gives us an insight into Iceland’s character, its history and the cold, often bleak weather, which create the backdrop for this thrilling story. I loved it.

For my full review click here…

When the Music Stops by Joe Heap

When the Music Stops is so unique, so different, that it left me reeling. The story takes us through the ‘seven stages of woman’ (inspired by Shakespeare’s seven stages of man in As You Like It *) – from Ella’s life as a child in Glasgow and her first experience of losing someone close to her when she was still a child, to now, when she is old. She is on a boat. It is starting to sink and is gradually filling with water. Ella is 87 and alone apart from a baby which she discovers in a room which has been turned into a nursery. The baby is very young and needs looking after.

Towards the end I was totally overwhelmed and had to take a break or I would have started crying and not been able to stop. Writing this review made me cry. It is rare for a story to have such a profound effect on me and make me feel so happy and sad at the same time. This is one book I will definitely read again (and I almost never do that).

For my full review click here…

Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

It’s six o’clock in the morning. I awoke at five and had to finish this book. So many thoughts in my head. I was compelled to get up and write this review. For me this was more than just a story. It was my heritage.

Let me explain. My father was Polish. He left in 1939 at the age of sixteen having joined the army (lying about his age as many did) to fight for freedom. He was taken prisoner to Russia and after two years escaped and came to England where he joined the RAF Polish Squadron. He was unable to return for political reasons I won’t go into. In 1978 it was safe for my father to return so I went with him.

Reading this book brought it all back to me. Of course I cannot identify with Ludwik’s sexuality and his love for Janusz or his pain, but the sadness of the politics resonates with me. The book is so beautifully written – a love story tinged with the desperation of so many people’s plight.

To read my full review click here…

My two craziest and most original books of 2020 part 2

My most original of the first half of the year was The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde (takes some beating) but I struggled to have just one in the second half. So here are my two:

Purple People by Kate Bulpitt

Should we turn criminals purple so everyone can see who they are? This book is original, hilarious, wacky and current. 

For my full review click here…

How could I leave this last one out!

Cooking for Cannibals by Rich Leder

Oh my goodness! This is like nothing I have ever read before. Hilarious, shocking, funny, dark and gross – what a ride. Not for the faint-hearted it includes murder, torture, rats, nudity, orgies, drugs, more rats, cannibalism, sex, torture and more….

For my full review click here…

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