My top reads of 2020
A bit late in the day (well, 14 days after the new year but whose counting) but i’ve had my head stuck in finishing Book 2 The Web They Wove.
I wrote those much longed for words ‘The End’ yesterday which is a bit of a misnomer as it’s far from being the end of anything, it is only the start!
I’ve put it away for now, to give myself head space and to let it ruminate (and hopefully sort itself out so that all the errors, plot holes and characters are perfectly in place when I do the first read through some time next week). At the moment it all feels a bit messy so it’s super important I take this break, regroup and then read it objectively (as a reader) when my head has cleared.
So that means I can finally get round to clearing away much neglected admin tasks and sort my finances out, which I’ve been blithely ignoring for far too long (ugh, self assessment anyone?).
Most of these books I’ve reviewed over on Goodreads but here’s a more detailed look at some of my favourites.
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
I was a bit late to the party on this one. It isn’t my usual genre, and I read it as part of Clare Mackintosh’s book group – I am so glad I did.
Set on the North Carolina coast in 1969, the story revolves around a young girl called Kya (or Marsh Girl by the locals). A murder takes place early on in the book and Kya is immediately a suspect. She lives alone on the marshes, after her mother left and her father is more often than not, absent. She manages on her own from a young age, and the book follows her journey as she grows into a beautiful young woman, attracting the attention of two local guys in particular. Her friends are the gulls, the sea shells and sand.
I probably haven’t done it justice in that description, but trust me – it’s a must read. It is written in third person, but the author writes with such a deep point of view you are immediately transported into Kya’s world and I fought every step of the way with her. I was delighted to find out that Reese Witherspoon has bought the film rights, I just hope she gives it the justice the story (and Kya) deserve.
The Giver of Stars – JoJo Moyes
Is there any subject that JoJo Moyes can’t write about it? This book had me in tears, made me angry and left me feeling elated – always a sign of a good book!
I read this in January 2020. I was laid low with a stinking cold, it was wet and rainy outside and I hadn’t yet started writing The Lie She Told so with lots of time on my hands I dived into this and it was the perfect read.
Set in 1930’s Kentucky, English born Alice Wright marries a rich American and leaves her home in England behind. Marriage, and her husband turn out to be a huge disappoint and her need for adventure leads her to Margery O’Hare, a town outcast. Between them they start a travelling library, using horses, in the wandering, wild hills and mountains of rural Kentucky. It raises eyebrows with the local community and beyond but for the natives of the hills it becomes a lifeline. Alice, Margery and the rest of the travelling library ladies must overcome prejudice, anger and social norms to continue with their essential service.
I absolutely fell in love with this book – so much so that I leant it to my mum, who lent it to her friends, who lent it to their friends and I’ve only just got it back! I will definitely read this book again. Perfect escapism for the cold January months.
After The End – Clare Mackintosh
Where to start with this one? First of all, I am a huge Clare Mackintosh fan. I’ve read every thing she’s ever written and she’s my inspiration for my own writing.
But this book? Well this is something else. A couple are faced with a hugely important decision, and they don’t agree. I don’t want to give too much away to be honest but the writing is superb, highly emotive and challenging at the same time. I wept more than once, and the ending? Oh wow… breath taking. It’s clear throughout that this book is deeply personal to the author and she treats a tough subject with sensitivity and real understanding.
Honestly, give it a read but take this as your mascara warning!
Now onto my Kindle reads. I always have more than one book on the go. I find I read different genres at different times, often on the same day but at bedtime I always turn to my Kindle to lull me to sleep. These are what I call my ‘easy reads.’ This is absolutely no disrespect to the author by any means, but they’re usually crime fiction, and it’s like putting on a cosy pair of slippers. Strange that I find crime fiction comforting!
Anyway, I have read so many that to do a detailed description of each one I would be here all day so I’ve listed them with links back to Goodreads. These are in no particular order by the way – just how they appeared in my Kindle library (I’m not that organised!). Some of the authors you will have heard of but I’ve tried to focus on self-published authors as much as I can.
The Liar’s Daughter – Claire Allan
Lies Lies Lies – Adele Parks
45% Hangover – Stuart McBride
The Missing and the Dead – Stuart McBride
The Doll Factory – Elizabeth MacNeal
Sleep – C. L. Taylor
Dead Inside – Noelle Holten
Strangers – C. L. Taylor
The House Guest – Mark Edwards
The Puppet Show – M W Craven
Black Summer – M W Craven
I can’t Sleep – JE Rowney
The Surrey Stalker – BL Pearce
Room 15 – Charles Harris
DI Bliss Series – Tony Forder
Righteous Anger – BL Pearce
After – Louise Broderick
Run For Your Life – M A Comley
The Trouble On Regency Road – Emmy Ellis
The Murder On Elderflower Mead – Emmy Ellis
Complete Darkness – Matt Adcock
The Solace Farm Killings – Simon McCleave
Cuthbert’s Way – LJ Ross
Fifty-Fifty – Steve Cavanagh
Dead Simple – Peter James
The Guilty Man – Helen Durrant
In part 2 of this post I’ll be covering the books I’ve used as research for my crime novels, including autobiographies of David Wilson, Kate Kray and Dr Amanda Brown.
If you’ve read any of the books listed above please do let me know.