Here is a round-up of my favourite books of 2020. Being furloughed during the first lock-down, I got used to reading far more books than in previous years and it also saw the beginning of my new ‘career’ taking part in blog tours. The following are not just from those blog tours, but also NetGalley and Pigeonhole reads. I hope 2021 has as many good books to offer (Mirrorland is not published till 2021) though hopefully not another lock-down (as I write this I am afraid we may be headed for another one tomorrow).

On Friday (New Year’s Eve) I’ll publish my Top 3 for the year.

Image thanks to Leafy Bean Co

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

I just loved this book. It’s 1911 and Peggy Battenberg works in the Moonrise Bookstore in New York. But Peggy is no ordinary shop girl. She’s an heiress belonging to one of the countries richest Jewish families. Then one day, while making martinis for an eminent – if rather salacious author – and his agent, Peggy is dragged away by her Uncle David to spend the summer in New York’s illustrious and hedonistic Coney Island with her extended family.

For my full review click here…

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

This book is so beautiful and sad, words cannot give it justice. Yes it’s slow at times – especially in the middle – and I guessed at some of the tragedies that do not come to light until the end, but don’t let that put you off. It’s not yet another book full of twists and turns and a shocking reveal. This is a gentle read about Romilly’s coming of age and one that will have you in tears at the end.

For my full review click here…

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

Probably one of the reasons I loved this book so much was because it is set in my era. I was only 10 at the time, much younger than Evie, and still at Primary School, but I remember everything she talks about, from Adam Faith (I loved him – his was the first record I ever bought) to Atora Suet (still don’t know what that is but I can still see the packaging) and our Dansette record player, though ours was red.

For my full review click here…

I Am Dust by Louise Beech

Magical realism is my favourite genre, but I Am Dust is all out supernatural featuring dead crows, bad dreams, Ouija boards, strange voices and ghostly happenings. And I lapped it up. Every scene and every word. Brilliantly written, it revolves around three teenagers in 2005 who mess around with dark things they don’t understand. I can’t praise this book enough. It’s spooky and entertaining and I love the seance scenes…

For my full review click here…

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

This is such a hard book to review. It made me cry – buckets at times. It made me mad – how could ‘that’ have been allowed to happen? It made me sad many times for the wonderful, beautiful, real characters that Charity Norman has created. I loved every minute of this book.

For my full review click here…

Daughters of Cornwall by Fern Britton

I literally read this in two sessions. I wasn’t sure what to expect, this being my first Fern Britton novel, thinking it was probably a romance set in Cornwall or a bit like The Shell Seekers (though I loved that book in my thirties). How wrong I was! This is a tale of three generations of incredible women.

For my full review click here…

The Split by Sharon Bolton

This was a roller-coaster of a ride from South Georgia (where even is that?) to Cambridge and back again. At times the pace of the story leaves you breathless and winded and you have to remind yourself to breathe. By the end I needed three Yoga sessions to bring my heart rate down.

For my full review click here…

Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

You can read this book in two different ways. You can simply regard it as another psychological thriller featuring two main female protagonists or a protagonist and an antagonist, depending on whose shoes you are standing in, but if that is all you may be disappointed. Or you can see it as something much deeper. A power struggle between two women who should have been helping and supporting each other in the male-dominated world of publishing.

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

Margery Benson and Enid Pretty are two most unlikely travelling companions. They have nothing in common. In fact Margery really doesn’t want Enid – she doesn’t even like her –  but it’s all she has left after the other applicants for the job of entomologist’s assistant were a disaster. So now she is stuck with her.

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.

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. 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. 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. 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.

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.

I went to Poland with my father in 1978, 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 Three Most Original Reads of 2020

The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde

The Constant Rabbit is a serious insight into the human condition and how it will take another so-called ‘lower species’ (in this case rabbits) to make us realise who we really are and what we have done to this earth. It uncovers the hidden racism and the not-so-hidden hatred of anyone who is different.

For my full review click here…

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…

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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