28 January 2021

Top Books of 2020

 I was hoping that all this extra time we had in 2020 would mean that I could read more but alas it didn't happen. Between moving back in with my parents to a houseful of people and a building site, getting a horse and the general poor concentration of a pandemic I didn't quite reach my reading goal. I had a good go though. I managed to read 66 books out of the 80 I planned. 4 short of 2019's achievement (You can see my favourites from then here). So I've set it at 80 again and we'll see how we go. In the meantime, I thought I'd share my favourite books of the year with you. In no particular order, we have

The covers of 4 great books, The recovery of rose gold, The Toybox, Cross her heart and Dying truth

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel*

Rose Gold Watts believed she was extremely ill for 18 years. Turns out her mum had lied about it all. When Patty gets out of prison 5 years later, Rose Gold takes her in. But she knows her mother won't stop until she controls her life again and Rose Gold just wants to be free. The battle of wits is on and only one can win.

Wow, this book is intense and beyond twisted. We get alternate chapters from current Patty to see how she’s dealing post prison and then past chapters from Rose Gold to see how she got to this point. I loved Rose Golds chapters as each one revealed a little bit more about her story, why she is the way she is and what her plan was. 

Neither of the characters were particularly likeable which made picking who you wanted to come out on top even harder. The plan was just outrageous and I honestly could not stop reading. This was unlike anything I have ever read before. It was such a wild ride and I loved it.  

The Toybox by Charly Cox* - #2 Detective Alyssa Wyatt

Young women with no link are disappearing without a trace around Albuquerque. Detective Alyssa Wyatt is trying to work the case with no clues when her daughters best friend goes missing. A body is discovered which makes the hunt more frantic. The investigation leads Alyssa to the terrifying, dark & evil side of humanity but will she make it in time?

Oh my god, this book. I thought the first book was good but this was next level. Such a good series. It’s dark and terrifying because it’s a very real fear for women all over the world. Parts of it definitely made me cry.

I love Alyssa and the fact that she’s a policewoman who has a stable loving home life and her job doesn’t get in the way. I also like that we get to know her and her family more with each book (especially as she’s always personally involved).

There was so much tension in this book. We switch between Alyssa, her daughter and the missing girls so you get the story from multiple perspectives and it really works. You get to see how everyone is affected. I started getting suspicious about a certain character but I was not expecting the ending. 

Cross Her Heart by Melinda Leigh - #1 Bree Taggert

For 25 years Detective Bree Taggert has been trying to push down the memories of her parent's murder-suicide. Everything is brought crashing back though when her sister is found murdered and her husband, Justin, is missing. Did he kill her? Their relationship was rocky. Or is he a victim too? Bree works with Justin's friend to try and understand the evidence whilst also trying to protect and comfort her sisters' kids.

I only recently discovered Melinda Leigh but I am now a huge fan of her writing. Her crime thriller with added romance suspense had me hooked until the very dramatic end. I couldn’t work out if Justin was innocent or not and the twists and turns added to the tension. This book is full of amazing lovable characters and I really hope we get to know them more and see more of this series. 

Dying Truth by Angela Marsons - #8 DI Kim Stone

Teenager Sadie jumps from the roof of her school. But when a young boy is found dead at the same school Kim is convinced that the deaths are linked and they aren't accidents. Just when they think they're getting close to uncovering the truth the person who was going to answer their questions is killed. There seems to be a link to the past and secret societies but can they put all the pieces together before another child loses their life?

This series is just incredible. The team is full of fantastic characters that all have great chemistry. Angela Marsons really knows how to take you on a journey and make you feel all the emotions. The end honestly broke my heart and I don't think I will ever get over it. This book covers hazing/initiations in the ridiculous world of rich people and secret societies and I was hooked. I had no idea who the bad guy was and I was not ready for the explosive ending.  

Covers of 3 great books, Perfect Kill, Breathe Your Last and The Curator

Perfect Kill by Helen Fields - #6 Ava & Luc

Ava and Luc are working on separate cases in separate countries that turn out to be linked. People are being shipped to France in exchange for women being trafficked into Scotland. They are trying to work out the angles of the case when missing guy Bart wakes up terrified in a shipping container. Will they be able to crack the case and find him before it’s too late?

Such a great series. All the books can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend reading them in order just to get to know the characters. Helen Fields writes in such a way that you can’t help but be sucked in. Perfect Kill is such a tense read and harrowing in places but it is impossible to put down. I needed to know what was going to happen to all of the characters I had grown so attached to.

There are so many great characters in this series and I love that the seriousness of the case is balanced perfectly with humour and banter between the team. The characters personal lives also add to the story instead of distracting and I really hope we get to see how and if Ava and Luc can get past their awkward relationship.  

Breathe Your Last by Lisa Regan* - #10 Detective Josie Quinn

Josie is investigating how a champion swimmer drowns when a retired fireman burns down his house and nearly kills his granddaughters. Josie is the only one who is convinced they are linked and with her boyfriend Noah being distant it looks like it’s on her to get to the bottom of it.

Such a great series that is still just as good as it was at the start. I love catching up with the main characters and I felt kinda emotional seeing Harris go off to Nursery. It’s such a great team and Josie is an amazing protagonist. Definitely recommend reading these in order though because everyone’s backstories help you connect more.

As usual, this was a gripping and tense read. I spent the whole book racking my brain to work out who the bad guy was and failed which I love. The ending had me on the edge of my seat and I could not put the book down until I knew what had happened because I didn’t trust Lisa to not break my heart. Lisa Regan knows how to suck you in and give you lovable characters with stressful lives. I hope we have more Josie Quinn and the team to look forward to.     

The Curator by M.W Craven* - #3 

A serial killer is leaving severed fingers around Cumbria with a cryptic note. Poe & Tilly are called in to try and make sense of the bizarre case. Why are some of the victims anesthetised and others aren’t? Then they find a suspect who admits to crimes they didn’t even know about but not the murders. Nothing adds up or makes sense.

I wasn’t sure about this book at the start but oh my god did it make up for it. I found some of it overly descriptive which made it hard to stay engaged and I also found the switching between first and last names a bit confusing. However, I loved the main characters and I will definitely be going back to read the other books asap.   

The first half of the book was a bit slow but once it got going I could not put it down. It was such a tense read. It’s not very often that a book surprises me like that but the ending was just incredible. It’s one of those books that I kept thinking about once I had finished it. It was so clever.

The covers of 3 books, The One to watch, Queenie and Diary of a confused feminist

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London*

Bea is a super stylish and successful plus size blogger who is not so successful in the love department. A rant about the lack of diversity on reality tv show the main squeeze goes viral. She’s offered the role of the next woman competing for the love of 25 men. She agrees on one condition, she will not be falling in love. Once she’s there though things get complicated and she realises it might be worth the risk to open her heart.

This isn’t my usual kind of read but I am a sucker for a plus sized protagonist and I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t too sure about the text, twitter and podcast threads that occasionally popped up but I did get used to them and it added to the story, they were just a bit confusing to read. There was also a lot of fatphobic stuff to wade through. It totally adds to what Bea is going through and shows what it’s like to live as a fat person, but some of it was tough to read. It was hard seeing Bea question herself and her worth and admit she is not as confident as she makes out.

There are so many great characters and I want to be best friends with Alison and also have that wardrobe. There’s also a pretty diverse range of characters, which I loved. It was so great seeing Bea grow and realise that people do find her attractive. I struggled to keep up when it was 25 guys but once it was whittled down it was so fun to follow along on the adventure. I honestly had no idea who she would pick and kept changing who I wanted her to pick.

It’s written well and is a nice, fun summer read. Also, I need this as a film asap. I think it would be soo good and I would love to watch a film with a plus size lead looking for love. How amazing is it to have a plus size main character that isn’t the funny friend?  

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie is a 25 year old Jamaican British woman living in London and working on demoralising stories at a national newspaper. A messy breakup leads to her using sex with the wrong men to try and feel good about herself. A slew of bad decisions make her question everything about herself and where her life is going. 

I'm always a bit wary of reading super hyped books having been disappointed in the past but this definitely lived up to it. 

I found every character in this book was just very real. They were all humans with human flaws. Some were lovable, some not so much but they all added to the story. I loved that it shows that needing therapy isn't a bad thing and everyone needs help now and then. It also shows how anxiety and depression can affect every aspect of your life and there are different ways of not looking after yourself but with help there is light at the end of the tunnel. It just felt like a very real story with all the ups and downs of life whilst still being an entertaining read that made me laugh. I was rooting for Queenie the whole time even when she wasn't at her most likable. It would make an amazing film. 

Diary of a Confused Feminist by Kate Weston*

Kat desperately wants to be a good feminist but is finding it difficult. Can you like boys and wish for your bully to fall on her face? Navigating being a teenage girl is hard enough without the added pressure. When everything starts to get on top of her, Kat knows she needs help.

I wish I had had this book as an anxious teenager. It does a great job of explaining depression and anxiety as well as the shame that often comes with it. It also shows that you can get through it and it is more than okay to ask for help.

It makes a lot of serious topics relatable and entertaining. It covers periods, friendships, crushes, bullying, anxiety around schoolwork, applying for uni and failure as well as touching on the Times Up movement and period poverty.

It made me laugh as well as cry. Definitely recommend for young readers who are struggling with anxiety, the pressure of being good feminists/fighting all the injustice in the world on top of school and being teenagers. 

What was your favourite book in 2020?


* This book was gifted via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, however, it does not affect my views and the opinions expressed in this post are independent and my own

**This post contains affiliate links. This does not cost you anything but means I get a small amount if you purchase anything. 

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