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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what I’ve read so far this year

2019, books

Hello!

When I sat down to write this blog post I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about – I love blogging so much, so usually I can just sit at my computer and find something to ramble passionately about but today? Nothing. I’d spent all day doing uni work for my PG Cert course and nothing was coming to mind.

I even Googled ‘blog post ideas’ seeing if that would spark anything but advice to anyone thinking about starting a blog – don’t Google blog post ideas. They’re never that good and definitely not original.

So I started scrolling through instagram – my feed is a creative hub of friends and other creators and browsing through posts, it wasn’t till I thought about my own posts that I actually decided what I wanted to write about (how vain is that?).

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (or 2019 Goals, however you want to word it) was to read one book every month and I’ve already finished my book for June so I’m feeling genuinely really pleased with myself that I’ve managed to integrate reading back into my nightly routine.

Today, I’m going to do a little run down of all the books I’ve read so far this year. If you like this post and want me to do another round up at the end of the year, do let me know!

In chronological order, let’s go!

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I set myself the challenge this year of reading 12 books – one a month. I used to be the kid that snuck out of bed to keep reading and studying English at school destroyed any previous love for reading but I'm determined to get it back! ✨ My first book of the year was @louisepentland's Wilde About The Girl – I read the first in the series when I went to Louise and Carrie Fletcher's book event last summer (I know I should have read it before) and absolutely fell in love with Robin Wilde – she's sassy and funny but she's flawed, she thought she needed a man to love her and sometimes she wore her pyjamas for the school run but she was so real. I'm not the target audience for this series but I bloody loved it and somehow I loved Wilde About The Girl even more. It was raw and emotional and laugh out loud funny, there were twists and turns and love and friendship and it was all round a feel good book. It was so easy to read, difficult to put down and the perfect holiday book – I thoroughly recommend it, even if you don't think a book about a mum in her late twenties is for you, Robin will wiggle her way into your heart. Can't wait for book 3 💜 ✨ I think I want to do a little review like this after each book I finish – I never thought I'd finish my first book of the month only halfway through but I'm thoroughly enjoying reading before bed, 2019 is going to be such a good year. Up next – when the curtain falls by @carriehopefletcher 🎭 ✨ #bookreview #book #bookstagram #reader #readagram #wildeaboutthegirl #wildelikeme #robinwilde #louisepentland #writer #blogger #lifestyleblogger #shinyhappybloggers #smallblogger #discoverunder100k #vlogger #smallyoutuber #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #thatsdarling #creative #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #pa #freelancelife

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Wilde About The Girl – Louise Pentland

My second attempt at finishing this novel – I read the first in the series in the run up to meeting the author at a book event last summer and I fell in love. ‘Wilde Like Me’ was the reason I wanted to get back into reading this year and on the second attempt of ‘Wilde About The Girl’ I was on a roll!

I’ve never really been into chick lit – I love fantasy and magic and space and adventure, but there was something beautifully mundane about Robin Wilde’s story. I commented at the time that it was like reading a vlog in someone’s life and it was cosy and lovely. Genuinely I’d recommend it to everyone – an emotional but beautiful read!

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book 02 : when the curtain falls (@carriehopefletcher) 🎭🔫✨ It took me a bit longer to get into 'when the curtain falls', then I was 200 pages in and realised this wasn't early chapters set up. Then I read the last 70 pages in one night (which is a big deal for me) and everything cascaded into a defeating crescendo of a finale and I'm lying in bed nearly in tears over these characters I didn't realise I'd fallen in love with. Combining my love of theatre, magic and writing 'when the curtain falls' has decided that I /need/ to catch up on the rest of Carrie's books and I really want to publish one of my own. Next up – 'eleanor oliphant is completely fine' (gail honeyman) ✨ . #book #bookstagram #whenthecurtainfalls #carriehopefletcher #book2of12 #reading #writing #fiction #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder100k #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #socialmedia #lookingforwork #selfemployed @salportfolio

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When The Curtain Falls – Carrie Hope Fletcher

At the same book event as I met Louise, Carrie was also promoting this beautiful novel. I’ve tried one of Carrie’s books before and enjoyed it but just couldn’t get into it enough to finish it.

At the beginning, I felt similarly about When The Curtain Falls – with a history in performance and musical theatre, I was invested in the story but it wasn’t until 200 pages in that I couldn’t put it down. It was as I was nearing the end of the book that I realised ‘this isn’t the set up anymore, this is it!’ and I read the final 100 or so pages in one night.

Utterly thrilling, a beautiful telling of romance and love and unsuspecting characters. Again, would whole heartedly recommend.

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book 03 : Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine (gail honeyman) 🎸🖥️🐈 Eleanor and I have had a rocky relationship – at the beginning, I thought she was a bit pretentious, I didn't think she was trying to be funny when people said she was funny and she needed to re-evaluate her relationship with strangers, but then I met Raymond and I slowly learnt more about Eleanor's story. This is one of the most cleverly written books I've read in a very long time and I'd LOVE to go for a coffee with Miss Honeyman and have a very in-depth conversation about the intricacies of Eleanor Oliphant. At its heart, it's an incredibly sad story but it's insightful, heart warming and so utterly, utterly real – I genuinely think everyone should read this book, stick with it… You start to empathise with her eventually ✨ 🥰 next up : we all looked up – tommy wallach ✨ #book #bookstagram #reading #eleanoroliphant #eleanoroliphantiscompletelyfine #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder1k #newblogger #shinyhappyblogger #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative #contentcreator #copywriter #socialmedia #lookingforwork #selfemployed @salportfolio

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Oh Eleanor, we had a difficult relationship. All the things I’d seen people say about how the book was hilarious and gripping from page 1, I didn’t get. It took me over a month to finish this because I found Eleanor arrogant, rude and uninteresting as a character.

Then the story developed, the introduction to one key character kept me hooked and by the end I wanted to protect Eleanor with every fibre of my being – she’s an incredibly complex character that I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to understand.

If you’re struggling with Eleanor’s story, I highly recommend pushing through to the end because you’ll be rooting for this girl I promise.

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book 04 : we all looked up (tommy wallach) 🌌💖🔫 Sped through this wonderful coming of age novel at first because I wanted to keep up with my monthly goal but then because I was hooked on these four Mish mashed broken characters – 'we all looked up' is full of teenage angst, existential realism and a freedom of not caring anymore. I've not read a book that made me feel so alive in such a long time and boy-o do I want to work on a film adaptation! Don't be put off by YA – when it's the end of the world, we all look up 🌆 ✨ next up : hold on – alan gibbons 🌌 #book #bookstagram #reading #wealllookedup #tommywallach #blogger #lifestyleblogger #smallblogger #travelblogger #discoverunder1k #newblogger #shinyhappyblogger #vlogger #smallyoutuber #weeklyvlogger #travelvlogger #linkinbio #throughthelens #canoneosm10 #photography #freelance #digitalcreative

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We All Looked Up – Tommy Wallach

An existential story about four teenagers at the end of the world? Yes please.

A lot of my books are YA and young YA at that – I bought them when my family used to go on holiday in Derbyshire and there was the most incredible bookshop where I could buy 10+ books for £30-£40 and it was my heaven. I picked up hundreds of books most of which went unread because I simply never would have had time to read that much.

When I moved back from uni I sorted through all my books and donated about two-thirds to charity, most of which had never been read but the ones I did keep I really wanted to read.

And that’s where ‘We All Looked Up’ slots in! It’s a very interesting narrative told from four different perspectives about what the potential end of the universe can do to all sides of society. I don’t want to spoil it in any way, but it’s a really humbling read that really nails the key aspects of humanity.

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book 05 : hold on – alan gibbons 😢🐂🥰 this short little novel (novella?) was not a challenging read, but I don't think I enjoyed it – it's about a boy who commits suicide and his friend's journey to figuring out why and coming to terms with everyone who played a part in it. I don't know if it's maybe because I'm not feeling my best mentally at the moment but I don't think I like the representation of mental health in this story, but perhaps that might be because that's how mental health is still presented in society and I don't like that. I don't regret reading 'hold on' but it's one to go to the charity shop I think 🤷 ✨ next up : one seriously messed up week in the otherwise mundane and uneventful life of (sam taylor) Jack Samsonite – tom clempson 😢 #books #bookstagram #holdon #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawarenessweek #alangibbon #reading #bookclub #pageturner #writer #blogger #huji #photography #shinyhappybloggers

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Hold On – Alan Gibbon

The first book of the year I haven’t really rated – ‘Hold On’ is about a boy who has committed suicide and his friend’s attempt to figure out what went wrong. Told from the modern day perspective of his friend and diary entries leading up to the end of his life, it’s a very mixed tale about who’s to blame.

As someone who has suffered with mental health problems, I found it very hard to empathise and very difficult to read about so many characters who had such a trivial and incorrect understanding of how depression can manifest. I came to the conclusion that I think that was the point – I think it’s meant to be an uncomfortable read. But I didn’t enjoy it, because parts of it didn’t feel intentional, they just felt naive.

I’ll be donating my copy, that’s all I’ll say.

And last but not least!

One Seriously Messed Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Sam Taylor Jack Samsonite – Tom Clempson

The one that hasn’t even made it to my instagram yet! This book (I’m not writing out that title again) is another very YA one about 16 year old ‘Jack’ navigating GCSEs, girls, friends, not friends and a couple much more sinister (but not too dark, it’s still YA) topics.

I feel like there’s not too much I can say without completely spoiling the book. It’s not really comparable to ‘Wilde About The Girl’ in any way but the sort of mundanity of it all is similar. There’s a few melodramatic teenage bits but as a 22 year old reader it’s about a teenager getting worked up about teenage things and it’s almost refreshing to be able to complete separate myself from all that knowing I no longer than categorise myself with teenagers.

A fun read, a solid 4/5.

And that’s what I’m reading this year – I always post little reviews on my Instagram so if you want to keep up with what I’m reading either follow me there or add me on goodreads! Sometimes I forget to update my page count for a few days but my most up to date reads are all on there!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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