Yet again I’m a little bit late with this post, I meant to have it up before the end of the year, but better late than never. As has become tradition, I’m not doing a top 5 or a top 10 but instead I’m making up some award categories and choosing a winner. No prizes for the winners I’m afraid but thank you for the stories.
So without further ado the winners are…..
Best Contemporary Romance
Winner: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
This has been a bumper year for romances and there have been quite a few that I’ve loved but The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary was my absolute favourite. I loved how sweet and funny it was and how uplifted I felt at the end. The character’s voices are distinctive and there’s an unexpected depth to it that lifts it above the usual rom com. It’s one I can definitely see myself reading again… and again…
Winner: Stepsister by Jennifer
I will confess I went into this thinking “not another retelling” but wow this completely blew me away. It’s just so fiercely feminist and you can’t help but relate to Isabelle, the stepsister who is made to feel ashamed of being different. Yes it’s a little bit feminism 101 in its messaging but I was literally bouncing around in my seat while reading it and cheering Isabelle on. Also loved how the author wove in the wager between the Fates and Chance as to whether one girl can change her destiny.
Most Gripping Thriller
Winner: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
I have to say a HUGE thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book as it wasn’t even on my radar and I absolutely loved it. It comes with the usual spiel of “completely addictive”, “you’ll be hooked from the first page” etc but in this case I found it to be completely true. It’s so unlike anything else I’ve ever read and the pacing of the story is perfect with the twists and reveals coming at just the right moments. What impressed me the most was how much I was rooting for the main character which given everything he gets up to I really shouldn’t have been.
Most Twisted and Darkly Disturbing Read
Winner: Good Samaritans by Will Carver
I don’t even know where to start with this book, it’s almost impossible to talk about without giving something away and I think it’s best you go in blind. Let’s just go with dark, disturbing, pretty twisted (and twisty) and completely unique. It certainly shocked me and was one that buzzed around in my head for quite a while after finishing it.
Winner: Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen
This book is dark comedy gold. I mean just the title and the idea of this wanna be luxury beach resort in Finland makes me laugh. Add to that incompetent criminals, a murder or two, a few twists and turns, a little bit of romance and this story is damn near perfect. The writing is wonderful with dialogue that’s full of humour, slightly eccentric but oddly believable characters and a plot that will hook you from the start. I highly recommend to all fans of crime fiction with a dark sense of humour.
Best Sci Fi
Winner: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
I put off reading this for far, far too long and honestly I have no idea why as once I did finally decide to pick it up I was hooked. This was one of those books that I knew from the very first page I would love and I was 100% correct. There was something very comfortable and familiar about it even though I’d never read anything by the author prior to it. It reminded me of those classic sci fi films I love. Yes it is a little bit tropey and some of the characters seem a little stereotyped but the way Sanderson tells the story is just wonderful and I couldn’t have cared less. There’s loads of action and a few twists and turns but what I loved most were the characters, the friendships that develop and the emotion. A truly brilliant read and I can’t wait for the sequel.
Winner: The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
A compelling mix of historical fiction, mystery and thriller with hints of the supernatural thrown in, I found myself captivated by this story. Set in Iceland in 1686, it’s an incredibly atmospheric read and I loved the clash between superstition and folklore and the strict religious beliefs of the time. It’s not an action packed read but it’s full of tension and mystery and certainly kept me hooked.
Book I Wish Was Non Fiction
Winner: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’m pretty sure I was not the only one googling Daisy Jones and the Six in the hope that they actually existed. This story about the rise and fall of a band in the 1970’s just feels so utterly and completely real it’s hard to accept this is fiction. The style of the book, which tells the story through a series of interviews with different members of the band, managers, journalists, producers etc, is probably not for everyone (if it’s not try the audio) but I loved it.
Winner: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I had some serious doubts about listening to this on audio, the book is just so graphic and original it’s difficult to see how it could work but it does. I do recommend having both so you can flick through the book as you listen but with a full cast and sound effects it’s like you’re there in the moment. It’s laugh out loud funny in places, heartbreaking in others, action packed and has more than one jaw dropping moment.
Winner: A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher
I usually avoid books with animals like the plague (they’re pretty much guaranteed to make me cry) but I heard so many great things about this I just couldn’t resist and I highly, highly recommend. I’d kind of forgotten how much I love a good post apocalyptic story but this certainly reminded me as main character Griz journeys across a deserted UK in search of a stolen dog. I do love a journey book and the world the author created was just wonderful, familiar but not. There are few characters in this story but those we do meet and memorable and their stories often heartbreaking. Absolutely brilliant.
Favourite YA Contemporary
Winner: The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
I have a feeling that many, many people will have cried in public while reading this book, I certainly did. It’s the story of a girl trying to get over a break up by revisiting the places he made her cry. This was not a healthy relationship and consequently it’s not an easy read but it’s definitely a worthwhile one. Bourne’s writing is as wonderful as always and I love how she seems to effortlessly get into the mind of a teenager (although I’ll leave it to an actual teen to say how accurate the portrayal is).
Best Historical Crime Fiction
Winner: The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry
I very much enjoyed the first book in this series, The Way of All Flesh, but I thought The Art of Dying was even better and I have high hopes for future books. I love the mix of history of medicine and murder mystery and I think the authors got the balance between the two just right. I love the characters and I found the theme of euthanasia an intriguing one. Can’t wait for book three.
Best Series Finale
Winner: Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
This whole series was absolutely brilliant¹ but third and final book Darkdawn blew me away. I read the whole thing in a combination of joy and terror, loving the action and adventure but fearing what was coming next. This is a story that’s epic in scale and packed full of action but it was the small moments that probably hit me the hardest. Kristoff is a wonderful story teller and the writing is brilliant. There’s lots of humour and witty banter (I love how Kristoff takes the mick out of his writing in places) but there is a lot of heart in it too. I loved the relationships between the characters and I was very sad to see their stories ending (I may have thrown the book at the wall at one point). Fingers crossed we get to revisit this world at some point.
¹footnotes and all
So that’s it, my favorite reads of the year. If you’ve made it this far thank you for sticking with it and I hope you agree with some of my choices or that they’ve given you some ideas for books to add to your 2020 reading lists.
If you have any comments on my choices or if you think I’ve missed a great book let me know below.
Happy Reading ❤