Thank you for reading!
Thank you for reading!
The end of year content isn’t over yet! Whilst lots of people are posting achievements, Spotify wrapped, beauty favourites and how far they ran on Strava (tires me out just thinking about it), I thought I’d share all the books I rated 5 stars in 2020!
I read a total of 39 books (I finished warm bodies about 4am on January 1st and Goodreads hadn’t reset yet, so I’m counting it) out of my goal of 12 and there was a huge variety. Some books I didn’t rate at all because I was so vastly indifferent to them, some books that made me stop reading for three months (looking at you Noughts and Crosses series…) and some books that immediately made me want to write my own stories and get excited about creating. Let’s jump right in!
I picked this one up from High Peak Bookstore (available on bookshop.org during the pandemic!) which is a massive discount book shop near where I used to go on family holidays. The concept of being able to glimpse into your own potential future with someone and how it could change is so interesting, it would definitely be incredibly tempting but dangerously addictive.
I love storylines with seemingly unrelated characters that all come together at the end and it was all very sweet, as well as being a relatively short easy read! Very cosy.
This is the only book this year I managed to read in a day! I had a long train ride to Birmingham and back to my first wedding fair of my engagement and whilst that should have been the highlight of my day (and don’t get me wrong, it was amazing), this book just took my peak interest.
I generally find John Green a little hit and miss and that’s why I put off ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ for so long but there was no way I was going to not finish this in a day. It absolutely gripped me, there was an element of murder mystery and the way that he writes about OCD and mental illness is just beautiful. I don’t know how he writes from the perspective of teenage girls so well but it’s one of the most immersive stories I read in 2020. Absolutely adored it, but perhaps one not to read if you’re a bit funny about germs or hand gel in a pandemic…
Another one about mental health with a duel perspective, but ‘All The Bright Places’ lived up to all the expectations I’d seen about it. It was beautiful and real and heartbreaking in equal measure. It felt quite similar to a John Green story in that respect and sometimes I muddle up this book and ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ in my head. ‘All The Bright Places’ is definitely a read with a very sad ending, but the message of hope throughout is just stunning.
I think this is the most cleverly written book I read this year – to tell a story exclusively through written communication, texts, letters and emails, with no external narrative or third person perspective was so clever. I loved the way the story consistently progressed and the character’s got older almost effortlessly. It was a long book but the only way it felt long was how heavy and awkward the paperback was to hold. I read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls shortly after I read ‘Love, Rosie’ and I can definitely see that Cecelia Ahern has taken a very similar concept but, I think, made it much more accessible. ‘One Day’ was lovely, but felt a little formal in places. ‘Love, Rosie’ was so wonderful and I really need to watch the film.
The ‘Eve of Man’ trilogy (or, will be trilogy) firmly placed itself as my favourite book series ever (sorry ‘Harry Potter’, but JK isn’t that great). I think ‘The Eve Illusion’ was the only book I pre-ordered this year and I was obsessed. The last page has stuck with me more than I can comprehend but I can’t say why without massively spoiling it…
This trilogy has the vibes of being as successful as ‘The Hunger Games’ or maybe even ‘Harry Potter’, I just adore it, I want to be in the movie but I’m 100% the wrong age. This is the book that made me want to create and work on my own novel.
I’ve tried reading this book twice before and never made it past the same point, I know now that ironically if I’d read one more chapter I’d have been hooked right through to the end.
I love how Carrie writes – so whimsical and magical but so raw and real simultaneously. I now want to work my way through her entire back catalogue of novels and I’ve got ‘All That She Can See’ on my list for this year and I’m waiting for the paperback of ‘In The Time We Lost’ to be released.
‘On The Other Side’ is a fantastic interpretation of life after death and gives a wonderful insight into a woman’s life who is almost too perfect – too kind, too talented, too loving, but still I couldn’t stop reading her story. It’s a lovely read, a wonderful cosy tale of family, sacrifice and a little bit of magic.
I picked up this book in a 3 for £5 deal at The Works thinking it would be the kind of cringey chick lit that I hate, but the story being about social media peaked my marketing interest. But then it wasn’t cringey at all, it wasn’t as completely orientated around lies as I’d thought it would be (bad communication and not being honest really grinds my gears). I love stories and characters that feel real and aren’t beyond the realm of realism and the cast of this story were just wonderful and the ending was so sweet and fun. Made me excited for my own wedding, if I’m honest!
The second of the 3 for £5 books (I’ve used this deal from the Works far too many times) and a very different story – an alien ship crash lands in a small American town and a Nurse takes care of the little alien boy who just lost his mum. I know I just said I like realistic stories and characters, but my favourites within that are fantasy/sci-fi stories that are so well integrated they could be real, or a story universe so well established that I feel I could live there.
This tale of finding family, protecting what’s right and taking control of your own power is so much fun and I’m really excited for the sequel which I think it being released this year.
(also the author followed me back on Twitter when I posted my review, so thanks Stephen Cox)
My only re-read of 2020 because I wanted to read the sequel ‘Where She Went’ but it had been so long since I read the original and boy I love ‘If I Stay’.
Teenage romance just gets me, even though as a 24 year old I have a much more cynical view of ‘love’ and I often think they’re children they don’t know enough about life to really love each other but we’ve all been there, whether it was a first relationship or an imaginary relationship with a boyband (definitely not speaking from experience…).
When tragedy hits teenage romance the supernatural kicks in and the female protagonist I can’t remember the name of (oops?) is essentially a ghost and can hear everything going on around her. It was an incredibly well written take on the impact of tragedy and the persistence of young love. ‘Where She Went’ was also good and I’m pretty sure I ranked it at 4 Stars, but it just didn’t quite hit the same as ‘If I Stay’. That’s another film I need to watch I think!
This is another one from the discount warehouse that I took a chance on because it was discounted. I never thought I was that into murder mystery or crime book but wow it turns out I am. Although in the adult section (not in a naughty way), I’d definitely consider it to be a YA novel as the protagonist is in her first year of college and I think that’s part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much, because I’m only a little bit older than that (let’s not think about how much older please).
Not only a crime novel, but a protagonist with amnesia who can’t remember why she was in a car accident that killed her neighbour’s son – with backlash from her mother who wants her in a mental institution, ‘friends’ who know more than they say and a murderer who wants to stay hidden, the story is an immense revelation of a girl who just wants her memory back. I loved Blame and can’t wait to read the other book from Jeff Abbot that is on my tbr!
I know I said the ‘Noughts and Crosses’ series inadvertently stopped me reading for three months, but I mean the other three books following the first one. I loved ‘Noughts and Crosses’ (hence the 5 star review) but the rest of the series was awful and because of who I am as a person I put too much faith in giving the other three books a chance only to be disappointed by whiny characters that are all melodramatic and annoying and don’t communicate properly.
‘Noughts and Crosses’, though, was an incredibly interesting take on if racism was reversed – if white people were considered the minority and treated unfairly due to their skin colour. The story follows Sephy and Callum as they grow up together, falling in love despite their differences and Sephy’s superior position in society. The ending is beautifully tragic, it made me think so deeply about the systemic racism in our society and the internalised racism that I’ve grown up with in a position of white privilege. I have a couple of other books about racism that I bought around the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and they’re definitely on my tbr for 2021.
I thought this would be my last book of the year and I picked it out despite my system (read alphabetically by author’s surname because I hate making decisions and choices) because I’d been struggling so much with reading and needed something I was excited about. And boy o was that the right decision – another crime murder mystery book I didn’t think I’d enjoy but make it YA about an aspiring journalist doing an EPQ and applying for Cambridge University then I get (good) flashbacks to my school days and can get behind someone who’s really enthusiastic about school.
But the murder mystery itself was so clever – I didn’t predict the end until it was happening and the conclusion and bravery of protagonist Pip was exhilarating. I read the last 100 pages on Christmas night because every chapter was just another cliffhanger. I’m trying to keep myself on a book buying ban until I’d read all the ones I’ve got, but ‘Good Girl, Bad Blood’ is right up there on the list of books I would like to read immediately.
I really didn’t think I’d finish this in 2020, but 4am on New Years Day before the Goodreads app challenge has reset counts, right?
A friend recommended and leant me her copy of ‘Warm Bodies’ and having seen and enjoyed the film, I was ready for a good zombie story. I remember the internal narrative of protagonist R compared to the characters limited speech and movement being incredibly interesting from a storytelling perspective and it was only enhanced in the book. Knowing the ending meant I could spot his changes and developments more easily, but it still made it so rewarding to see him as a character noticing and being very self-aware.
In some ways it gave me kind of ‘Twilight’ vibes but in a much better way. The characters aren’t very ‘romantic’, per say, but their relationship is sweet. A really good book to tie off the year with, for sure.
If you like reading my thoughts and words on books, I’ve just set up a new book instagram account called @sophiesreading where I’m really enjoying posting and finding new people to follow.
Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!
I feel like I haven’t written a book blog post in ages and I’m feeling incredibly invested in what I’m reading at the moment so I thought I’d channel that energy here! That might be the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written.
I feel like I may have said this a million times before but some brief context; I was the kid that would sneak out of bed and stay up reading, fell out of love with it as I had to study books I didn’t like and decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to get back into it with the help of reading challenges on the ‘goodreads‘ app – made it to 9 of last year’s target of 12 and as I didn’t meet the target I set the same one-a-month target for 2020.
I’ve currently read 34 books.
So I thought I’d write a shortlist of those 34 books of the ones I’ve absolutely adored! I write mini reviews on my Instagram if you want to see what I’m reading and my ongoing thoughts but I thought I’d collate my favourites for anyone who’s in a reading rut and wants some inspiration, wants to try something new or just fancies reading something book-ish!
Mild disclaimer: I will link to all these books on Amazon however if you have a local independent bookstore or retailer I highly support seeing if they have it or ordering through them, especially in the current covid economic climate!
I love ‘fantasy realism’ as a genre, where there’s an element of fantasy but it’s so well integrated into ‘normal’ human life that it almost doesn’t feel like fantasy. So when there’s a service where someone can see their future with a person, generally a romantic relationship, the gossip, reality TV ‘realness’ of it all is just the recipe for the perfect book.
Interesting and realistic characters are something that really grabs me and is a huge factor as to why I rated all of these books at 5 stars, but the concept in The Future for Curious People is so much fun and the ending is wonderful.
I asked for this book for Christmas the year it came out and it’s taken me two years to read it. I decided to read it on a long train journey to Birmingham to meet my mum to go to a wedding fair and whilst I was very excited about the wedding fair, boy o boy all I wanted to do was get back to the book. The whole mystery, teenage drama aspect mixed with a painfully relatable depiction of mental health (and helped me understand symptoms I don’t suffer with) meant I finished this book in one day – absolutely devoured the first half on the way there and nearly finished it on the way back; I had to drive home and finish the last 60 pages before I picked up my boyfriend from work because I was so absorbed.
John Green books are a bit hit and miss for me – I loved The Fault In Our Stars like every other 20-something (though I’ve never watched the film because I don’t think it’ll be as good) but I never massively enjoyed his other books. The style is a little pretentious – all of his characters are into niche poetry and philosophy and take themselves a little bit too seriously, but I think once I accepted that it’s just how John Green characters are and I loved so many other aspects of this book more than those parts annoyed me. I still gave it 5 stars.
I avoided buying this for ages because it was everywhere and everyone was reading it and I’m that kind of hipster. But inevitably I picked it up and it was Worth! The! Hype!
Another story about mental health and the ending really gets you but the two differing perspectives on similar mental illnesses and how the characters are so opposite but so puzzle piece perfect is just magical and the kind of character writing I can only aspire to.
This book actually has a John Green feel in it’s somewhat self-important characters but it was wonderful and I devoured it in just a couple of days. Definitely worth the hype!
I picked up the film edition of this book mostly because of Lily Collins and Sam Claflin on the cover but avoided reading it because wow it is a chunky read. But surprisingly quick to get through once you realise it’s all told in letters – from childhood to old age the main character Rosie progresses through life, love and loss with letters, emails, texts, passing notes and other forms of communication that I’ve forgotten about but it’s such an interesting narrative that never explicitly says ‘2 years later’ or ‘three months later’ but as a reader, you know that time has passed. It’s just brilliant.
I’m not sure how the original title of ‘Where Rainbows End’ really suits the book, maybe because I’ve only ever known it as ‘Love, Rosie’ I couldn’t see the connection but that is the original novel’s title so if you are struggling to find it, check ‘Where Rainbow’s End’!
I fully intended for this to be one of the only books I bought this year as a new release… then I hit my goodreads goal in three months and needed some more books to read… Regardless, I’ve been buzzing about this sequel ever since I read ‘Eve of Man‘ in approximately two days last year. I love the concept, I love the characters, I love the world building and how painfully believable a world that derelict is and the sequel didn’t disappoint.
If I’m being brutally honest, I didn’t think it was as good as the original, but not in a bad way – I still adored it – I just felt that it was a bit like ‘The Two Towers’ in Lord of the Rings; it’s there to move the story along in a trilogy so it has to be there but it’s not the most exciting part.
Eve gets a little bit bratty, everyone gets a little bit melodramatic, I loved the inclusion of the third perspective in the different chapters and the twist at the end was so obvious I saw it coming from a mile away but still made me double take for a second (I thought she might be a time lord, if you’ve read it, you know!). Eagerly anticipating the last novel in the trilogy!
I really rated the Fletcher writers this year! This is Carrie’s first fiction novel and having struggled to read it twice before and realising this time that if I’d have read just one more chapter I’d have been hooked till the end always makes me laugh.
Another wonderful version of fantastical realism that takes you by surprise a little bit (lifting written words from a birds wings and putting them in a notebook did make me question the writing just a little bit until I remembered… fantasy). The love story that just wasn’t meant to be, I thought the characters were going to be much more ‘idyllic’ like early Disney Princess-esque where everyone is swept off their feet and everything’s too perfect but it wasn’t like that at all. It was lovely and as the story moves more into the modern day I could feel my heart being given in pieces to each character.
I can’t wait to read more of Carrie’s novels this year – I read When The Curtain Falls last year and I think I’ve got All That She Can See on my shelf to read at some point!
This book I picked up dirt cheap in a 3 for £5 sale at The Works – I wasn’t sure whether I wanted it because the whole premise of the book is based on a massive lie and I hate when characters make things difficult for themselves by not communicating openly. But it didn’t actually annoy me at all – there was a couple of really cringey moments but all round it was a sweet, heart warming book about the spontaneity of social media, the importance of family and not taking those you meet at face value.
Another one in the sale from the Works but much more sci-fi/fantasy – a meteor crash in a small town in the US (obviously, it could only be the US!) disguises an alien spaceship landing and two unidentified creatures are saved from the wreck. Another heartwarming story about family beyond blood relations and accepting people for all their quirks. Looking forward to the sequel!
One of my newer books and probably my first adult crime novel though it had very YA vibes. A 19 year old girl tries to navigate life as a college drop-out refusing to live with her mother at home following a car accident in which her friend died and she survived, but with a severe case of amnesia she remembers nothing from before she started high school, including her dad’s death. With many twists and turns and wondering if you can trust the narrative of the protagonist herself, so many things unfold about the true reason behind the crash and the real reason David died.
Genuinely amazing story – I’ve never read a book where I felt like I couldn’t quite trust the person telling the story and it was so interesting! I have another book by Jeff Abbott on my shelf but it’s the second in the series so I’m going to buy the prequel when I’ve read through all the other books on my shelf.
A book that was huge when I was in school but I read so slowly that I never got round to it. Seeing it recommended over and over again in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, when I saw the whole series on offer in the Works (it’s such a good place for books!) I knew I had to pick it up.
Learning about the privilege of my race through fiction was always going to be the way to help me best understand – I’ve never been able to apply so much of what I’m reading to real life and feel like I’m really learning from it. It was so eye opening and heartbreaking in equal measure and I can’t wait to read the other books I picked up to continue my education on racial inequality.
Couldn’t recommend this book more highly if you find non-fiction difficult to get into but want to educate yourself – amazing characters, so eye opening, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Did I plan for there to be 10 books in my highlight of 2020 so far? Absolutely not but I do find it incredibly satisfying.
I’m currently reading the third book in the Noughts and Crosses series ‘Checkmate’ by Malorie Blackman so if you want to see my thoughts on that when I finish it hop on over to my Instagram!
Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!
Over this last week I’ve picked up a bag of books from my mum’s house, bought a new haul of books from my favourite indie bookstore High Peak in Derbyshire and picked up a few more new books in charity shops and on my holiday… So I have a big haul of new books!
For context, when I moved into our little one bed house last year, I brought a selection of the books I was most excited to read thinking it would last me a while – my goal was to read one book a year and at that rate I wouldn’t be done till 2022 ish. Then I read four books a month and quickly ran out of books I hadn’t read in the house!
Before I moved out of my mum’s house, I packed all my books into carrier bags so I could pick up one at a time when I needed more to read. It just happened to time with going on holiday and visiting my favourite place.
So I thought what I’d do today is list all the unread books I now have on my shelves – if you have a similar taste to me (have a look at my goodreads to get a feel for what I like!) and you’re feeling a bit stuck with what to read, I’m sure something on this list will grab you!
There’s a mix of fiction – YA, a couple of middle grade, a couple of ‘grown up’ books with genres from fantasy, chick lit, coming of age and crime – a few non-fiction and a couple of reference books so a real mish mash! Obviously I’ve not read any of these yet so if they’re rubbish, I can only apologise in advance!
From High Peak book store:
22. Die For Me – Amy Plum
23. Jacoby’s Game – Alison Prince
24. All That She Can See – Carrie Hope Fletcher
25. The Oversight – Charlie Fletcher
26. Twilight Robbery – Frances Hardinge
27. The Last Minute – Jeff Abbott
28. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne
29. Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo
30. Mirrorscape – Mike Wilks
31. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
32. The Wave Runners – Kai Meyer
33. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher
34. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher
35. Shade’s Children – Garth Nix
36. The Dragon’s Eye – Dugald A. Steer
37. The Time of the Reaper – Andrew Butcher
38. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Cassandra Clare
39. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
40. Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse (Book 3) – Rick Riordan (Book 1 – The Lightning Thief / Book 2 – Sea of Monsters)
41. Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labrynth (Book 4) – Rick Riordan
Charity shop finds:
42. Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds – Gwenda Bond
43. Container Gardens: Practical advice on choosing, planting and caring for container plants – Aura Garden Guides
44. Year In Your Garden – Geoff Hamilton
Oops I fell into The Works and the Set Was Only £8:
45. Noughts + Crosses – Malorie Blackman
46. Knife Edge – Malorie Blackman
47. Checkmate – Malorie Blackman
48. Double Cross – Malorie Blackman
49. The Green Roasting Tin – Rukmini Iyer (£7 when it’s RRP is £16.99… I couldn’t help it but I can’t find it on The Work’s website, but it’s only £9 on Amazon!)
Although I’ve linked predominantly to mainstream sites like Waterstones, Amazon and W.H.Smith, if you can support your local independent bookstores please do because they’re precious places, often with wonderful hardworking staff and beautiful decor and need all the support they can get!
If a name, author and link doesn’t grab you (which I totally understand, I just thought this blog post would be long enough without adding descriptions of all the books!), I post a review of everything I read on my Instagram so follow the link below if you want to hear my thoughts on what I’ve read so far this year!
Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!
I’ve blogged before about how reading was such a big part of my childhood and I’m really hoping to rekindle that love this year. I’ve set a goodreads goal of 12 books this year and I’m on track at the moment!
I’ve got a list in my bullet journal of some of the books on my shelf that I haven’t yet read (though I have just found another chunk of books that I have since added to my shelf!) and I thought I would have a little ramble about the books I’m most excited to read!
Genre isn’t something that normally sells me on books – I like fantasy adventure, I like romantic chick lit, I love dystopian fiction, I like magic and interesting characters and open discussions about taboos like mental health and disabilities amongst other traits that make characters a little bit different.
There are other books that I want to read but at the moment I’m not letting myself buy anything until I’ve read everything I’ve already got, so these are my top 10 books that I’m most excited to read from my ‘to be read’ list!
The book based on the cover and blurb alone seems like one of those Lord of the Rings-esque historical fantasy books and I used to be super into those. A lot of my books were bought from this discount warehouse my family used to go to on holiday when I was a teenager and I’m catching up on the books I bought then. This is one of them – I’m still intrigued by the concept even now I’m in my 20s.
On the other end of the scale, concepts of a human future where something drastic has changed is an interesting thing to explore in fiction – the Hunted explores a world where humanity has sacrificed fertility and children are a commodity (I think?) and I don’t know much more about it than that. I’m not sure how Shearer is going to explain how humans got to this stage so I’m really interested to see how thought out this book is.
The blurb seems like a stereotypical ‘boy meets wildly different girl and somehow they make it work’ but the main reasons I want to read this book are 1) it’s super hyped and I want to see if it’s worth all the positive reviews and 2) the cover is pretty. Mostly 2.
I wanted to write ‘I’m a huge fan of John Green’ and I am – I love the content he makes on YouTube and I still haven’t watched the fault in our stars movie because I loved the book and I didn’t know if it would translate well on film but I haven’t read any of his other books and I ‘looking for alaska’ is one of the only books I’ve never finished. Unless you count the books I was meant to read for my english literature a level. I know that when TATWD came out it got a lot of glowing reviews for its characterisation of mental health and I’m genuinely excited to read the book for that reason.
‘Fangirl’ stands as one of my favourite books of all time – ‘Carry On’ is the spin off, full length version of the fanfiction written by the main character. I want to reread ‘Fangirl’ before I read ‘Carry On’ but if they ever make a film of the book, I want to be in it. Just wanted to get that in writing.
Another one purely for the hype except I’m literally a decade late to the party – it’s a book I bought cheap and I want to see if I like or if I’m going to donate it to the charity shop but it’s another one with an interesting concept!
More hype/film adaptation hype. Lily Collins and Sam Claflin are in the film and I silently watched bits of the film over someone’s shoulder on a plane once and I liked the look of it. The main thing putting me off is the fact it’s a chunky book and I’m a fairly slow reader, but the picture of Lily Collins on the front is a good selling point.
The sequel to ‘if I stay’ which I think had a film adaptation that looked pretty rubbish, but I actually enjoyed the book a lot about seven years ago when I read it. I want to read both books in succession and remind myself what I liked about it. I always found it funny that by calling the sequel ‘where she went’ suggests an answer to the title of the first book ‘if I stay’ and that still makes me laugh.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise this was a sequel until I was finding the Amazon link but this one was a cheap buy with a pretty cover. ‘Be With Me’ seems like one of those easy read YA-chick-lit-esque books that I’d take on holiday or read after finishing a heavier book. Maybe I need to invest in the original!
Do I read most books because of hype and film adaptations? Potentially but I know very little about this book, but I love a sob story and ‘dying girl’ seems like a character that fulfils this desire.
Some of these books are really new, some of these books are a bit older but I’m really excited to read all of them – there’s only four books left on my reading goal for the year but I’m not limiting myself to only 12, if I want to start book 13 you can be sure I’m going to!
I’m currently reading Wilde Women by Louise Pentland and I’m thoroughly enjoying it – this series of books is really comforting and I whole heartedly recommend them if you enjoy watching family vlogs on YouTube because it’s like reading a cosy family vlog, I love it.
What books do you enjoy reading? Are there anything you think I’m missing out on? Let me know if you’ve read any of the books on my list!
Thank you so much for reading,