Thursday 31 December 2020

My Top Reads of 2020 #AmReading #TopReads2020 #TopBooks2020 #BookBlogger


My Top Reads of 2020

2020 .... what a year! I can say nothing that hasn't already been said.

It's been a year like no other in our life times. It's been a year of disruption and sorrow. It's been a year of unease and unrest. I hope I never have to live through another year like it.

I have continued to read. I have continued to shout about books. Luckily, I didn't lose my reading mojo, in fact I probably read more, and I certainly read a wider range of books.

I read around 140 books in total. Most of them have been reviewed on this blog. I rarely finish a book that I'm not enjoying, so picking out my top reads of a year is always incredibly difficult. I have 25 books on my list, there could have been so many more.

As always, my list is split into three sections; I start with some of the 2020 books that I read in 2019. I mentioned them last year and hoped that they would be huge.

The second part is my list of  Top Books of 2020

Finally, I'll give a mention to some 2021 publications that I've read early.
I really think that 2021 is going to be another fabulous book year!


2020 books that I predicted would do well

At the end of last year, I'd read these 2020 books pre-publication, and predicted that they would do well. I'm still recommending them, twelve months later.  (click on the title for my full review).

A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone published by Orenda Books on 23 January 

The Home by Sarah Stovell published by Orenda Books on 22 January 

It Started With A Secret by Jill Mansell published by Headline on 23 January 

Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson published by Bantam Press on 23 January 

The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper published by Headline on 9 January 

My Top Reads of 2020

My Top Reads of the year are listed in order of reading. The list contains some favourite authors who pop up year after year, and also some debuts. I think it's a great list, with something for everyone. I heartily recommend all of these books.  (click on the title for my full review)

Firewatching by Russ Thomas published on 20 February by Simon & Schuster
Firewatching is smart, it's suspenseful yet considered. The plotting is so intricate and the pace is absolutely perfect.

I Am Dust by Louise Beech published on 16 February by Orenda Books
There's a tenderness to this author's writing that brings a lump to the throat, and the final scenes are heart-stopping in their beauty.

The River Home by Hannah Richell published on 19 March by Orion
The writing is captivating, the sense of place is incredible and the story itself is intricate and perfectly woven. The River Home is beautifully and insightfully written, this probably one of the most beautiful books that I will read this year.

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan published 2 April by Simon & Schuster
It is so carefully crafted, with multiple threads and so many shocks revealed. It is a story that haunts the reader as more is revealed. I was totally gripped throughout.

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent published 26 March by Penguin Ireland 
I was left breathless by this novel and I have so much respect for an author who can create characters who evoke so many feelings in a reader.
Sublime and really just brilliant.  Highly recommended

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman published 7 May by Allen & Unwin
A novel that looks at perception and belief. A story that is so powerfully moving, from an author who really is at the top of her game.  Highly recommended.

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith published 9 July by Orenda Books
This novel is shockingly brilliant, and I devoured it. It is thought provoking yet written with such an exquisite touch and is a devastating yet eye-opening story of how humanity and science merge.

Watch Him Die by Craig Robertson published 11 June by Simon & Schuster
Watch Him Die is absolutely absorbing. The sense of place, of LA and of Glasgow is perfect. It's unsettling yet compelling. Totally unputdownable.  Highly recommended by me

The Curator by MW Craven published on 4 June by Constable
Masterful and quite brilliant, this is an extraordinary story. It is an intelligent and  exhilarating read. Craven has done it again. Another pitch perfect addition to this top class series. Now I need the next one please.

The Shadow Friend by Alex North published 9 July by Michael Joseph
This is an ambitious story that is told incredibly well. It is dark, creepy and at times, a little bit terrifying. I found it really difficult to put down, and impossible to forget.

Quiet Acts of Violence by Cath Staincliffe published 2 July by Constable
This is a powerful story, excellently written with compassion and painful honesty. Outstanding and highly recommended by me.

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers published 9 July by W&N
This author writes magnificently. Her prose is just sublime, from the descriptions of everyday things such as the falling rain and a suburban living room, to the more complicated affairs of heart and emotion, she never puts a word wrong.

Finders Keepers by Sabine Durrant published 9 July by Hodder
Finders Keepers is mesmerising and mysterious. I was absolutely gripped throughout. This author really cannot put a foot wrong, in my view. Highly recommended 

Below The Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin published 23 July by Bonnier Zaffre
This is a captivating and heart-rending story and I was totally involved and immersed. It really is just beautiful; sensitive, empathic and polished to perfection

The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn published 17 September by Orenda Books
The writing is skilled and the plotting seems effortless, yet is so dramatic, leading the reader to the final, shocking reveal.

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall published 20 August by Orion
The novel is structured perfectly, it is a dark but very powerful read and the characterisation is quite fabulous.  This is a first-class read 

The Island by Ben McPherson published on 6 August by Harper Collins
Ben McPherson is a master story teller. This brilliantly unnerving read leaves the reader in shock, with questions of their own. It is brilliantly and sensitively written

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh published 3 September by Orion Books
An intense and powerful crime thriller, populated by characters who are totally believable and who the reader will invest in. Yet another tense and inventive story from one of the most talented crime authors around.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo published 5 March by Penguin
Girl, Woman, Other is an important book, it's a revelation for those of us that have little knowledge of the worlds inhabited by the characters within it. It is compassionate and moving, and filled with life.

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone published 20 August by Orenda Books
This talented author can do no wrong in my eyes. His depiction of the complexities of a the female family relationship is wonderfully done, with empathy, warmth and some deliciously dark humour

Burning Island by by Suzanne Goldring published 20 January by Bookouture
Burning Island is an absorbing and emotionally charged read and I learnt so much about parts of Corfu's history that I had no idea about before. It is so well researched and the sense of place is so well portrayed

The Housewarming by SE Lynes published 21 October by Bookouture
The frailties of human kind are laid bare, and the long term damage caused by impetuous and quite selfish acts are laid out starkly.
The Housewarming is a gripping thriller but is also a mediative look at the nature of community and close relationships. 

When The Music Stops by Joe Heap published on 29 October by Harper Collins
This is bold, inventive and perceptive. Dazzlingly good, this one will stay with me forever. Highly recommended. 

Sins of the Father by Sharon Bairden published 27 November by Red Dog Press
I am in awe of this writing, and the story. It's heart-breaking and brutal and filled with characters who are far more than they appear to be on the surface. 
Tough, emotional, raw and shocking. The Sins of the Father is an outstanding read. Highly recommended from me. 

And so, I come to my final choice; my favourite book of 2020

This is the only the second time that I've ever singled out an individual  book in my favourites list in over 10 years of compiling one. 

There is just something about this book; the writing, the characters, the plot. It has stayed with me ever since I turned the last page. 
I will shout about this one for a long time.

published by Orenda Books on 21 November, digitally - the paperback will be published on 21 January 2021

It's an exploration of family, of community and of how the past is not always another country. A book filled with honesty and written with a tenderness that is faultless. 
There's Only One Danny Garvey is one of the best books I've read for years.

Books to look out for in 2021 ....

I've already made a start on the 2021 books, and if the ones that I've read already are anything to go by, we are in for another outstanding book year.
Here are a few tips; books that I think will be huge next year. 

The Push by Ashley Audrain - 7 January 2021 from Michael Joseph
It is an exceptional debut novel. Raw and honestly brutal. Highly recommended. 

The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean - 7 January 2021 from Hodder & Stoughton
An extraordinary book. One that will haunt me for a very long time. A masterpiece.

Daughters Of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson - 18 February 2021 from Mantle/Pan Macmillan
This impressive story will have you on the edge of your seat. What an incredibly talented author she is. I really want more now.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles - 9 February 2021 from Two Roads
My review of this one has not been published yet. Look out for my thoughts which will be in the Daily Express in January

Everything Happens For a Reason by Katie Allen - 10 April (digital), 10 June (paperback) from Orenda Books
My review of this one has not been published yet.  I read this really early, on submission and fell for it hook, line and sinker. I intend to read the finished version and review very soon.

That's 2020 over and done with. Thank goodness!

It's been a fabulous year for books, but very little else has been joyful.

I want to wish everyone the VERY BEST for next year - let's hope that we can all meet again very soon.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who reads my reviews and puts up with my book shouting.

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