the best books I’ve read this year (so far)

2020, books

Hello!

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!

  • Love, Rosie (Cecelia Ahern) (originally ‘Where Rainbows End’)

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!

Sophie xx

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49 new books | a little book inspiration

2020, books

Hello!

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:

  1. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson
  2. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  3. See Through Me – Kevin Brooks
  4. In At The Deep End – Kate Davies
  5. The City Always Wins – Omar Robert Hamilton
  6. Rosie Coloured Glasses – Brianna Wolfson
  7. Raising Fire – James Bennett
  8. Tarnished City – Vic James (sequel to Gilded Cage)
  9. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
  10. The Inaugural Meeting of The Fairvale Ladies Book Club – Sophie Green
  11. Ace of Spiders – Stefan Mohamed (sequel to Bitter Sixteen)
  12. Blame – Jeff Abbott
  13. I Know You – Annabel Kantaria
  14. Goldilocks and the Water Bears – Louisa Preston
  15. The Princess and the Suffragette – Holly Webb
  16. The Wellbeing Journal – in aid of Mind
  17. Computer Coding for Kids – Carol Vorderman
  18. Masha Regina – Vadim Levental
  19. Scrabble Dictionary

WHSmith:

20. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
21. A Nearly Normal Family – M. T. Edvardsson

Home Haul:

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!

Sophie xx

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top 10 in my tbr

2019, books

Hello!

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,

Sophie xx

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