Well, here I am at the end of my first (calendar) year of book blogging. My blog isn’t even a year old yet, but looking back on just the last nine-and-a-bit months I can’t help wondering why I didn’t start this sooner. I’ve been spoilt for choice with so many wonderful books to read and review, and as 2020 comes to an end, I wanted to share my very best, five-star books with you.
When I Come Home Again
by Caroline Scott
Oh! My! Goodness! This book evokes a powerful, emotional response (yes, it made my eyes leak!); it created a world I yearned to step in to … and yet never to be part of; it elicits an understanding … and yet a sense of disbelief. This haunting, post-WWI story will stay with me for quite some time.
by Marius Gabriel
Set against the glamorous backdrop of The Ritz hotel, this beautifully written story follows the struggles of Olivia Olsen, living a dangerous double life as a hotel maid bringing vital information to the Resistance, whilst hotel guests, including Coco Channel, luxuriate under the protection of high-ranking Nazi officials.
Coming Up For Air
by Sarah Leipciger
Coming Up For Air is a book of three stories, separated by miles, by decades, and by oceans. Yet they’re all bound on the pages by love, by water, by the legacy of lives after death; the presence of unseen footsteps; of stories that keep memories alive and memories that keep stories alive. An unforgettable book.
Fields of Grace
by Wendy Waters
Fields of Grace is a story about every kind of love silhouetted against the evils of persecution and envy. Like love, it’ll sweep you off your feet, carrying you from the flirtatious bright lights of 1930s London, to the grand romance of Paris, before mercilessly setting you down in the hostile streets of Hitler’s Berlin.screen.
People Like Us
by Louise Fein
People Like Us is an unforgettably powerful story of love, hope and humanity surviving in spite of the very worst kind of hatred. What sets this book apart is that it’s narrated through the eyes of a teenage Nazi; a girl I despised … and then, unexpectedly found myself wanting to protect.
After the Party
by Cressida Connolly
After The Party has been one of those books that never quite leaves you. I spent a considerable amount of time reading it in a state of impotent fury; I just wanted to step inside the pages and shake some sense into Phyllis! Because what is a great book if it doesn’t elicit an emotional response, a visceral reaction, of some sort?
The Strawberry Thief
by Joanne Harris
It’s been seven years since Vianne Rocher was last in my life – way too long! It’s fair to say I absolutely devoured this book, but as I passed the halfway point I had to force myself to slow down … this was a story I was in no hurry to finish. The enchanting and addictive atmosphere is as delicious now as it was in Chocolat.
Catch The Moon, Mary
by Wendy Waters
Catch the Moon, Mary is a beautiful story, a balm for the soul … but rather than feeling post-book sadness it left me enveloped in a profound sense of calm and positivity. It’s an incredibly vivid and poignant book, lyrically written, and with a depth of wisdom and tenderness that speaks of someone who’s lived many lives.
The End of Mr Y
by Scarlett Thomas
The End of Mr Y is a Marmite book – I’m a lover – and so it was with great enthusiasm that I embarked on my second reading of this utterly intoxicating, highly original book. If you’re craving a story that’s going to seize you by the imagination and draw you in to something enchanting and a little dark, this is your book!
by Ben Aaronovitch
Unlike your usual crime books, this one isn’t restricted to the realms of the possible and conceivable. Only in this London could some 19th century fairground mechanalia be the key to unlocking true artificial intelligence … with a malevolent helping hand … and a smattering of the Met’s finest (albeit magically-trained) police to stop it.
by Christine Mangan
Tangerine is a stylish, Hitchcock-esque suspense thriller that epitomises atmospheric story telling. Its simmering tensions and undercurrents are magnified by the intoxicating heat of 1950s Tangier, with the exotic seductions of the city lending a vivid, claustrophobic backdrop to the delicately nuanced characters.
The Lies You Told
by Harriet Tyce
This is a dark, twisted psychological thriller that’ll have your skin prickling with disquietude from the first page to the last. Harriet Tyce has written yet another complex, discomfiting domestic thriller whose acutely-observed characters draw you in, whilst the gloriously omnipresent sense of menace keeps you on edge.
The Scorched Earth
by Rachael Blok
This is atmospheric crime writing at its most thrilling. I lost myself in the intensity of this story almost immediately, hooked by the sinuous plot, the very real characters, and the ever-present sensation that there was something momentous lurking just below the surface.
by Janice Hallett
The Appeal really should start with a warning, along the following lines: if you have anything you need to be doing today then abandon all thoughts of them now. Because it may be a well-worn phrase but this unique book is quite simply unputdownable … it’s utterly addictive.
The Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George
The Little Paris Bookshop is one of my favourite books – it’s charming, heart-warming, and deliciously escapist. Broken-hearted Jean Perdu owns a bookshop on a barge, moored on the Seine, from which he prescribes books to treat conditions that doctors just can’t. The unexpected arrival of a new neighbour prompts Jean to set sail down the rivers and canals of France to Provence in search of answers – and as his nautical miles increase, so too does his lust for life. This book is packed with tempting food, atmospheric locations, and blossoming new friendships.
My reading list for 2021 looks set to continue delivering treat after bookish treat, and I’m really looking forward to sharing a glimpse of my teetering TBR list with you very soon.
In the meantime, wishing you all a very merry Christmas … and hopes for a markedly happier new year xx