The Sun is Also a Star is actually my favourite book of 2020. It’s beautiful and compelling and tells the story of two people while touching on the stories of a multitude of others. Natasha is facing deportation back to Jamaica where she was born after her dad is arrested, and Daniel is facing some difficult life decisions which will decide his future. She’s a scientist, he’s a poet. Both don’t need to fall in love – that would be inconvenient given their circumstances – but when the universe throws them together, who are they to decide? Yoon’s writing is beautiful and the story is equally as stunning too. Read the full review here.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Here’s the second book from Sarah Winman. When God was a Rabbit had me sold from its blurb and the line “More than anything, it’s a book about love in all its forms.” The book follows siblings Elly and Joe through their childhood and into their lives as adults. It’s about their relationship and the love and loss their encounter from the eclectic mix of people along the way. The book proves again what a beautiful writer Winman is and I fell in love with the stories and characters in this! Read the whole review here.
Brain on Fire
Shotgun Lovesongs was gifted to me by @thehelsproject as a birthday present and I had never heard of it so was interested to see if it was something I’d enjoy. And WELL, I loved it!! Henry, Lee, Kip, and Ronny are childhood friends who grew up together in Wisconsin. A farmer, rodeo star, city high-flyer, and famous musician, those who didn’t stay are eventually drawn back to their hometown of Little Wing and question why nowhere else could ever be called home. When the four of them are back for a wedding, each has the opportunity to reminisce and compare their lives against their friends’, but for each of them there are regrets, heartbreaks, mistakes, and betrayals – Shotgun Lovesongs tries to address whether childhood friendships can stand the test of time and the strains that the trials and tribulations of life present. Read the whole review here.
2020 has been an interesting year (to say the least!!) but on the plus side, a global pandemic has given me more time to read and I’ve managed to read 104 books this year! However, I’m a firm believer that it’s about quality not quantity, but luckily I managed to read some absolute killer books this year too. Below is a list of my top 10 picks for the year, and a little bit about why I loved them!
The Keeper of Lost Things
Blood Orange is a thriller I’d seen on Instagram loads, so when I found it in a charity shop, I thought it was about time I read it! Blood Orange centres on Alison, a barrister who is assigned her first murder case at the beginning of the novel. She’s determined to make a good job of it, but behind the scenes, her marriage is falling apart, she finds herself a little too quick to pick up a drink after work, and she’s having an affair with a solicitor too. For starters, I did not care about any of the characters, and if you thought the murder trial would save this book, then you’d been wrong. Maybe I’ve just read too many thrillers but this one was SO predictable, I knew who’d done it from page 39… Read the whole review here.
Girl, Woman, Other
Andrea Tang is a successful lawyer, she’s living in Singapore and is on her way to making partner. She’s got it all sorted then? Well, not exactly. Her family, despite her achievements, only seem to focus on the fact that she’s almost made it to her mid-thirties and is still not married. With a mother to appease and a career demanding almost every waking hour of her day, Andrea just doesn’t have the time to find a husband. And what’s worse is that her colleague Suresh is trying his best to make partner too – and she has to beat him. Then along comes Eric Deng, who seems to have their whole lives and futures mapped out, but it’s hard to know what choices to make, and while she’s busy trying to please everyone else, Andrea needs to choose what will make her happy too. It’s a loveable and hilarious read! Read my whole spoiler-free review here.
Also some honourable mentions to Red, White & Royal Blue, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Turtles all the Way Down, and Unnatural Causes for being really great, but just not quite in the top 10!
The Sun is Also a Star
This was recommended to me by Shannon from @talesfromthecountry and I was instantly intrigued as I love non-fiction which tells the story of someone’s life, especially when they’ve had something extraordinary happen to them. This one concerns Susannah Cahalan who began experiencing episodes of violence and paranoia and felt unable to control her thoughts. After initially thinking that she was experiencing alcohol withdrawal, the doctors were baffled and just could not work out what was causing her behaviour. Cahalan woke up in hospital with no memory of the previous month and doctors finally begun to think that she had an auto-immune disease. From then on, the road to recovery, if slow, could at least begin. This book is both educational and truly compelling so I’d really recommend getting a copy! Read the whole review here.
Last Tang Standing
I was very excited to read this as I’d seen a lot of good things. If you follow my reviews, then you’ll know I love books just about people, and this book certainly fulfils that! Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and stories of 12 people whose lives intertwine. From a lesbian playwright and a non-binary Twitter influencer to those simply unhappy in their marriages and wanting something more than the hand they’ve been dealt, this book explores everything from systemic racism and gender identity to our sexual desires and the innate longing we all feel to fit in. It’s a beautiful and empowering read. Read the whole review here.
When God was a Rabbit
The Keeper of Lost Things is a book I’d seen around a lot and knew that it’d be something I’d enjoy. The story weaves together two lives, of Laura who’s recovering from a divorce and struggling to find companionship, and Anthony, who’s nearing the end of his life and using his remaining time to reunited owners with their lost things. When Laura moves into Anthony’s house, their stories begin to merge, and what they find in each other will fill holes they didn’t even know existed. (I’m actually shocked that I didn’t write a review of this when I read it! But here’s a link to Goodreads if you want to find out more.)
This is actually the first of two books by Sarah Winman in this list (she’s my newest auto-buy author!). Tin Man is beautiful and to copy what I said in the review, trying to explain what this book is about is actually a bit tricky, so instead, I’ll leave the blurb here for you to read: It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things. And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything. All you need to know is it’s a stunning story about friendship, love, family, and pain. Read the full spoiler-free review here.
This thriller was one I’d actually recommend to four other people before I read it myself. But with a tagline like this, it couldn’t not be good: “The serial killer isn’t on trial. He’s on the jury.” The plot centres on a Hollywood power couple who are at the centre of a murder trial when one of them is accused of killing the other. Enter Eddie Flynn – a retired con artist turned lawyer who seems to be the only one who can take the case on. But the evidence is against them, and time is running out, it’s going to take an ex-criminal to catch a criminal, and Eddie Flynn hopes he’s the man for the job. Read my whole review here.
And as a little bonus, here’s some of my most disappointing reads of 2020 too…
This is How You Lose the Time War
I was really excited to read This is How You Lose the Time War; it looked unique and fun, and at the heart was a romance which is exactly what I love to read! Set in a dystopia world, two warring factions are vying to triumph in a never-ending war, but the individuals fighting may have less hate than love in their hearts. All in all, I just could not follow the story of this book and even having turned the last page, just felt confused! Read the full review here.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was actually my very first read of 2020, and what a strong start! This is a mysterious thriller about someone who wakes up in a different body every morning and must do all he can to save someone’s life – someone who will be murdered at the end of the day if he doesn’t prevent it. I loved this book for being so different and totally alluring, it’s hard not to be intrigued and the mystery itself was so layered and clever so the reveal was all the more satisfying. Read my full spoiler-free review here.
Fleishman is in Trouble
Again, I’d seen this book around a lot so was interested to see what all the fuss was about. Fleishman is in Trouble is a domestic drama concerning Toby Fleishman and his wife (or soon to be ex-wife Rachel). Having just separated, Toby finds himself suddenly surrounded by women who want him and is more than happy to oblige their wishes. But just as he’s starting to enjoy his life, Rachel disappears. She won’t answer his texts or calls, and it’s becoming an inconvenience for him, not only because it affects their kids, but also because it feels like she’s punishing him for all the things he supposedly didn’t do right while they were married. To put it frankly, there was too much sex and not enough focus on a decent plot! Read my whole review here.