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All The Books I Read In 2020 with Mini Reviews

London, UK
best-books-of-2020
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Sharing a recap of the books I read in 2020! I really enjoyed settling down with a book as I found reading a form of escapism to shut off the outside world. I managed to do quite a lot of reading, completing my reading challenge of finishing 24 books pretty early on in the year. I came across some books I loved and others that were a bit disappointing but I really enjoyed my time spent with my head buried in a book and I hope to do more reading this year too.

My 2020 reading challenge was to read a total of 24 books and I completed the challenge about half way through the year, which I think was mostly down to the year we had, in total I read 43 books in 2020.

You can add me on Goodreads to see what else I'm reading.


*Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, Adam Kay - 5/5

Despite not being as good as Adam Kay's first book *This Is Going To Hurt, Kay's second book was short and sweet, depicting some of the Christmases he spent working in hospitals. Mostly filled with joy, laughter and Christmas spirit.


*The Hunting Party, Lucy Foley - 4/5
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I don't know why I held off from reading this book for so long as once I got stuck in, I really enjoyed it. Set in the Scottish Highlands, it follows a group of friends who go away for the New Year when one of them is found dead. The book keeps you on edge the whole time not knowing who is the killer (or who has been killed) whilst also examining aspects of each character's lives.


*Our Stop, Laura Jane Williams - 4/5

A classic love story in my opinion. Set in London which instantly makes me love this book more as I have a soft spot for anything that talks about the city. Predictable, but aren't most romance novels? This was exactly what I wanted to read at the time and if you're missing the mundane every day things like getting the tube to work every morning then I have a feeling that you'll enjoy reading this!

Completely unrelated to the content of the book - one thing that bugged me was the front cover. From my interpretation, the red line across the cover reflects the London underground map and therefore, the central line. However, this story unravels on the northern line which is usually black?! Please say I'm not the only Londoner who found this so annoying...


*The Sun Is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon - 5/5

A young adult book (I quite enjoy reading this genre to be honest) following two teenagers who are figuring things out. There is so much packed into this story despite only covering a week or so in the lives of two teenagers who crossed paths coincidentally but so quickly became an integral part in each other's lives.


*In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law, Sarah Langford - 5/5

This was one of the first books I picked up at a charity shop and the reason I was so drawn to it was because it reminded me of Adam Kay's books which I adored (last year I also read *The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown for the same reason and loved it!) This book follows a lawyer and a handful of cases she has worked on over the years. There is a mix of family affairs, child care cases and victims of violence.


*Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens - 5/5

Easily one of my favourite books of 2020 without a doubt. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Delia Owen's novel and the story that unravelled about the Marsh girl and her life. This novel includes stories of family, education, crime and love whilst never feeling like too much or too overwhelming to read.


*The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides - 4/5

This was so hyped that when I found it in a charity shop, I didn't think twice about buying it! With that said, I was quite surprised by how many people loved this as personally, I found it to be quite predictable to be honest. I wasn't really gripped from the beginning and I expected pretty much everything that happened to happen so it was somewhat underwhelming. It was still a good read and had it not have been so hyped then maybe I would have felt less disappointed when I finally read the book myself.


*City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert - 5/5

I was hesitant to start this book as I didn't think it was my kind of book but I loved it! Told from the perspective of an older woman looking back at her youth, we follow the life of a young girl in the 1940's, coming to terms with life and what she would like to do as she grows from a young girl to a woman.


*Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams - 4/5
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I felt like the story behind Queenie didn't really lead me anywhere, in some ways I think I expected to feel more when I read this book which is why I didn't rate it five stars. However, Candice Carty-Williams talks about issues that are so poignant surrounding Black culture and touches on the subject of Black women's pain often not being validated by their white counterparts. One to read for sure.


*Five Feet Apart, Rachael Lipincott - 5/5

Another young adult novel that I loved. A story that is predictable from the get-go but for some reason still had me wanting to finish the story as quickly as I could. The film adaptation is on my watch list now too!


*Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn - 4/5

At times I felt this book got a bit too dark for me. Nonetheless, I enjoy reading suspense/thrillers especially when I'm in a bit of a reading slump so this was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read at the time (I'm not sure I would re-read it though!)


*An American Marriage, Tayari Jones - 5/5

Another top contender for my favourite book of 2020. I didn't know what to expect when I started reading An American Marriage but I just loved it! There are three main characters in this book whose lives we follow and after one of the characters is sentenced to jail, we discover how they each impact one another whether it be directly or indirectly.


*The Cows, Dawn O'Porter - 5/5
(Kindle)

This was the first book I read on my Kindle and I was worried that this would take away from the experience of reading a physical book but it absolutely didn't. I enjoyed reading The Cows as it shared the lives of three millennial women navigating through life, social media and female friendships.


*Wonder, R.J. Palacio - 5/5

This book is best suited for a young reader but a lovely story nonetheless. Following the life of a young schoolboy who looks different to his peers and suffers as a result. Exploring the harsh realities of growing up different whilst also looking at the positives.


*Regretting You, Colleen Hoover - 5/5
(Kindle)

This book has everything: love, loss, grief, betrayal, redemption and family. Each chapter is divided between the perspective of a mother and daughter who are experiencing a flurry of different emotions following devastating loss.


*The Wives, Lauren Weisberger - 3/5
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I wish that this book wasn't trying to hold onto its precedent *The Devil Wears Prada so much. This book follows the life of Emily Charlton after her time at Runway comes to an end. In my opinion, there's a bit too much yoga pants, skinny-talk and alcohol abuse for me - it felt a bit outdated for 2020 (and it was only published in 2019).


*Liar, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen - 2/5

I just didn't get this to be honest. This book felt extremely scrambled and the story made little to no sense to me - not one I enjoyed sadly. Admittedly, I was drawn to this book because of the front cover so that will teach me not to judge a book by it's cover...


*A Spark of Light, Jodi Picoult - 4/5

Drawing on the challenging subject of abortion and gun laws in America, Jodi Picoult tells the story of the people trapped inside an abortion clinic when a gunman comes in. In each chapter we discover a little bit more about each character trapped within the clinic and the reasons why they ended up being there at that particular time.


*The Woman in the Window, A.J. Finn - 4/5

A domestic thriller about a woman who spies on her new neighbours. But, when she spots something unusual, doubts arise as some of her own secrets are uncovered and she begins to doubt herself and her surroundings. Thrillers are a genre I enjoy so naturally, this novel was a perfect fit which I enjoyed.


*Here's Looking at You, Mhairi McFarlane - 4/5
(Kindle)

A predictable storyline (I won't spoil it for you) and stereotypical characters and relationships. This book is highly predictable but enjoyable nonetheless.


*The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay, Nicola May - 3/5
(Kindle)

Another very predictable storyline but a bit too cliché for me. There are many other books in the Cockleberry Bay collection but I don't think I'll be reading any of the other of the books in the collection to be honest.


*The Other Wife, Claire McGowan - 5/5
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Snowed in and trapped in a secluded area in the countryside - two women, unlikely neighbours, become friends and essentially change each other's lives. This was exactly my kind of thriller and I devoured this book.

*All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr - 4/5

Admittedly, this book took me a while to get through which is reflected in my final rating. I don't usually like books that focus too much on history or historical moments (I find them really hard to relate to so I tend to lose interest quickly) but there was something about this story that made it so wonderful yet heartbreaking to read.

*Only When It's Love, Olivia Spring - 3/5
(Kindle)

Yet another predictable storyline which I actually can no longer remember much about, I couldn't even recognise the cover! After a quick search online, my memory was refreshed and I remember aspects of this book but nothing that stands out majorly to me. I was surprised to see all the high reviews as for me personally, it didn't quite hit the spot.


*Where The Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah - 5/5
(Kindle)

A few paragraphs in and I thought 'nope, not for me' but my mind quickly turned when I realised it wasn't actually a book about aliens (I don't want to give anything away so that's all I'll say!) A troubled childhood, a love story and a bit of crime makes this the perfect recipe for my kind of story.


*Yellow Crocus, Laila Ibrahim - 5/5

(Kindle)

I enjoyed reading this very much. This book loosely follows a story of oppression towards Black people but ultimately, looks at how two women - one white and one Black - ran away from it in a bid to create a better life for themselves and their future families.


*Never Look Back, Mary Burton - 3/5
(Kindle)

This book follows two crimes that eventually become intertwined and I think that's why I rated this book a three. At times I wish there was only one crime as the focal point but we switched between the two frequently which I didn't enjoy throughout the book and found it harder to follow.


*The Beekeeper's Promise, Fiona Valpy - 5/5
(Kindle)

This was such a lovely story. Initially we are introduced to a character in present time who moved to work at a Chateau. This book dabbles in and out of present day and the past as we are introduced to another woman's life at the Chateau during the war. Inevitably, there are references to the history of war but I think both women's stories were more prominent and I loved that.

*The Doll Factory, Elizabeth Macneal - 2/5
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This was not my type of book. I pretty much knew this from the start but I persevered as I hate leaving a book unfinished but it really wasn't my kind of read. I've heard people say it has similarities to *You (although I haven't read that book, I've only seen the first season of the Netflix series).
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I was unsure on whether I should rate this book a 4/5 or 5/5 but in the end, I went for 5/5 as I just kept thinking about it even after I finished reading it! It's unlike any other thriller I read this year and I was completely captivated by this heartbreaking story.


*Mustard Seed, Laila Ibrahim - 4/5
(Kindle)

This book is the sequel to *Yellow Crocus which I read earlier on in the year. I preferred the first book but still found it poignant to read about the struggles Black people continued to face even after the Freedom Act. This book also introduced the inner struggles faced by women, in particular Black women, who had to choose between fighting for their freedom or for their right to vote as women.


(Kindle)

This was such a joyful read and looking back, I'm surprised that I didn't rate it the full 5 stars as I can still remember the storyline quite vividly. This book covers various topics including love, disability, family, friendship, workmanship and neighbourly friendships. It's an unusual story and I think that's what I loved about it.


(Kindle)

This was the longest book I read and like no other I read in 2020. It discusses moments of Korean history (without feeling like too much to take in) which I found really insightful as I didn't know about the history between Koreans and the Japanese. The book follows a mother and her two son's and how they grew up facing struggles with poverty, family, friends and love.


(Rare Birds Book Club [pr product])

A novel of enemies turned lovers. Despite being fairly predictable as soon as you are introduced to the work colleagues who apparently hate each other but are also obsessed with each other, I enjoyed this and thought it was a perfect easy read.



Before reading this book, I read a few reviews and I felt like people were split between either loving this book or not really getting it. I'd say I fall into the latter category. I found this storyline slightly too hard to follow but equally, I felt like not much was happening throughout.



A couple of chapters in and I thought this wasn't my type of book. However, after getting more into it I ended up really enjoying it. This book tells the stories of many women who, in some way, all have an impact on each others lives. I loved reading this take on how one person's actions can impact another person and despite being slightly difficult to follow at times with so many characters, I thoroughly enjoyed it.


(Rare Birds Book Club [pr product])

A rich woman, with a high paying job and all the material things she could want but she's still looking for something more... I expected this to be somewhat similar to *Crazy Rich Asians but in my opinion, this book was a bit too over the top for me. 



I read Beth O'Leary's *Flat Share in 2019 and enjoyed it (I rated it 4/5) so I was keen to read her second novel. For me, the latter was the better story out of the two although I think most people think the opposite! Despite both novels having pretty predictable storylines, I found that The Switch was a bit more unusual as the main protagonist essentially swaps lives with her grandma!



Despite being unsure of what to expect from this novel, I really enjoyed reading it and got through it pretty quickly. The Dutch House is the focal point of this novel and the character's lives have all been touched by this house in one way or another.


(Rare Birds Book Club [pr product])

This was probably at the top of my to-read list in 2020 so I was over the moon when I received it as part of my Rare Birds Book Club subscription. In this book we are told the story of a young girl leaving the Dominican Republic and moving to America. The only reason I didn't give this book 5/5 was because there were some aspects that I didn't think were so important in the story and I wanted it to be more about the young woman as opposed to the people surrounding her.



Whenever I find myself in a bit of a reading slump, I usually opt for some sort of crime or thriller as I find them more gripping which in turn makes me want to get to the end of the book to find out what happened. It always works at pushing me to read more! That's exactly why I picked out this book to read.



This was the first book of essays I've ever read and I enjoyed it. Although I will say that I think that the reason I enjoyed it was because I am familiar with Pandora's other work including her podcast The High Low (which sadly ended this year!) Knowing a little bit about her and her work background, definitely made me understand and enjoy this book more. The essays tackle current issues like fast fashion, social media and women which I found really insightful.



I picked out this book in a bid to get me reading again (after over a month without reading anything - I definitely go through phases) and honestly, it was just a bit too farfetched in my opinion. I got through it quickly and enjoyed it mostly but when it got to the end, I was just a bit disappointed by it so couldn't rate it any higher.

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So there you have it, a recap of my 2020 reads. In a normal year, I don't think I would have surpassed my goal of reading 24 books by this much but 2020 was far from a normal year. I've set my reading challenge to 30 books for 2021 so we'll see how I get on.

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