Hello lovely people,
I know, I know, I’m a little bit late posting my list of favourite reads but I have to confess that I did not do very well with tracking or reviewing books last year so figuring out what I’d actually read during the year took a little bit of investigating. There are very possibly some great books missing for which I can only apologise but these are the ones that, looking back over my year, were the standouts.
RomCom / Contemporary
I read a LOT of romcom and contemporary novels in 2020, at one point it was pretty much the only kind of book I could even remotely focus on, and I discovered some truly brilliant stories.
- The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez – This was one of those stories that made me laugh and cry but most of all it made me smile. It just made me happy. Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it a book I’ll read again? Absolutely! (review)
- He Will Be Mine by Kirsty Greenwood – This story of a virtual admin assistant from a small town in England who decides that her soulmate is a famous Hollywood actor is absolutely ridiculous but such good fun and packed full of laughs. It’s the perfect bit of escapism. (review)
- Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – I read and loved both of the Brown Sister books during 2020 but the first one Get A Life, Chloe Brown marginally pipped Take a Hint, Dani Brown as my favourite. I think there was just something about Chloe I found that little bit more relatable (not entirely sure what this says about me) and I loved the relationship between her and Red.
More RomCom / Contemporary
- The Roommate by Rosie Danan – This was one of those random NetGalley picks that turned out to be such a brilliant read. It’s funny, it’s steamy, there is a lot of chemistry between the leads but it also has a more serious and deeper side to it.
- Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane – Another book with hidden depths. It’s laugh out loud funny in places but it also deals with some more serious issues. McFarlane’s writing is wonderful and she creates people and places that feel incredibly real.
- Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall – I’d read a lot of rave reviews of this so it was one I had high expectations for and it did not disappoint. I do love an opposites/enemies to lovers kind of a story and this was just what I needed.
Contemporary / Literary
- The Shelf by Helly Acton – I read a few reality TV themed books during the year but this story about a woman dumped by her boyfriend live on TV before being thrown into a house with a group of women to learn how to be a better wife/girlfriend and get off The Shelf, was definitely the standout. I loved how it played on the stereotypes and while it sometimes ventured a little too far, I liked the message behind it. It also had quite a few moments that made me laugh
- Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid – I wasn’t wholly convinced I’d get on with this book, it seemed a little too serious for 2020, but I ended up loving it. I loved how real and identifiable the characters are and I liked how it covered a lot of issues around race from the perspective of different women.
- My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – This was a really quick and easy read but it was an addictive one and not at all what I was expecting. The style is unusual, jumping around in time and place, with short chapters but it really worked for me. I’m not sure I liked the ending but other than that it was brilliant.
Thriller / Mystery
I read very few mystery or thrillers this year as I didn’t have the focus for them but there were a few that had me completely hooked.
- The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean – Technically this was published in January 21 but I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy so read it in 2020. Given the subject I probably can’t describe it as enjoyable but it’s dark, disturbing and full of tension. It’s one of those books that’s completely unique and impossible to put down. Will Dean’s writing is just brilliant and I plan on working through his back list this year.
- I Am Dust by Louise Beech – Part ghost story, part murder mystery and part historical, this book absolutely blew me away. It’s emotional, a little bit creepy and full of twists and turns.
- The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – My first book by Ware and I loved it. Loosely based on The Turn of the Screw it’s an atmospheric read that I found genuinely creepy at times. I’m not generally a fan of the unreliable narrator trope (it’s been done to death) but in this it worked incredibly well and I loved all of the little reveals along the way.
SciFi / Fantasy
- Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – I finally finished the Illuminae Files and while I loved all three books I think Gemina was my favourite. There were a few too many characters in Obsidio for me and an awful lot going on. I absolutely loved Nik from the start. I wasn’t as keen on Hanna but she really grew on me and I loved the relationship/banter between them.
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – I think I may be the last reader on the planet to pick up the ACOTAR series but I make a point never to read different series by the same author at the same time and I’ve been stuck at the final ToG book for two years. Anyway, I finally decided to stop waiting and start reading and binge read all three books in this series in a week. Again I absolutely loved the series but I think book 2 was my favourite. I wasn’t really buying the romance in book 1 and book 3 was a little drawn out.
- All Systems Red by Martha Wells – I’ve had the Murderbot Diaries on my wishlist for a while so as soon as the price came down a bit (why is this series so expensive?) I snapped it up and read immediately. It lived up to and possibly exceeded expectations.
Non Fiction Audiobooks
My craving for the real in 2020 led to me picking up some books I’d never otherwise have given a second look in any other year and I discovered that actually I kind of like listening to non fiction on audio.
- Ayoade on Top by Richard Ayoade – Richard Ayoade takes a deep dive into Gwyneth Paltrow film View From the Top. It’s the most ridiculous idea and subject for a book but it’s also possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever listened to. I was literally crying I was laughing so much.
- Quite by Claudia Winkleman – I quite like TV presenter Claudia Winkleman so I couldn’t resist her first venture into writing. I’m not entirely sure how to describe this, there are some anecdotes about her life but it’s not really a memoir as such. It’s more her opinions and advice on living your best life. It’s funny, it’s insightful and there was one chapter that made me cry.
- Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – I have to admit to knowing next to nothing about Shonda Rhimes before picking up this book. The only thing I did know was that she was behind a lot of my favourite TV shows. I did however find her surprisingly relatable and found this story about her pushing herself out of her comfort zone and saying yes uplifting and motivating.
So those were some of my favourite reads of last year. I am absolutely positive I have missed something off the list and will no doubt think of it later but so be it. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Are there any similar books you’d recommend I pick up in 2021? Let me know in the comments below.