Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season and a brilliant start to 2020! I’m going to start the new year off with a look back at the old one – and what a year it was! I was lucky enough to take part in many blog tours and to be given the opportunity to read some amazing and memorable books.
Thank you to everyone who was such a huge part of my bookish life last year! From the brilliant blog tour hosts and publishers to the wonderful and talented authors who kept me entertained (and sane!) all year. Thank you to all those who have taken the time to read and share my blog posts throughout 2019, I really do appreciate it.
I’m grateful to every single one of you and I hope that 2020 will be filled to the brim with even more books and friendship, blog tours and reading. But first, here are my top 10 reads of 2019 (in no particular order). It was difficult to narrow it down to just ten, but in the end I went for those books that I felt had the most emotional impact on me as a reader. I hope you enjoy! 😊📚
Top 10 Reads of 2019:
1. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a book that deserves to be savoured and experienced. It is a mesmerising and unforgettable book that transported me back to my childhood where my love of reading began. It sucked me into its pages and the real world melted away, just as it had when I was a child and first realised that words had the power to carry me away on a tsunami of magic and adventure, through never ending doors of wonder and delight. Pure perfection.
2. Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor
Oh, what a wonderful and heartwarming debut novel this is! It’s a truly delightful book that left me with a huge smile on my face as I turned the final page, making me feel as though I could go out and tackle anything life decided to throw my way that day! A moving and brilliantly written book that brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion, Needlemouse is a quirky, fun and moving read that’s full of warmth and heart. A gorgeous and uplifting novel that I would highly recommend.
3. Never Be Broken (DI Marnie Rome 6) by Sarah Hilary
Never Be Broken is the latest instalment in Sarah Hilary’s DI Marnie Rome series, this time tackling the up to date and relevant knife crime epidemic in modern day London. The author isn’t scared to tackle this issue head on in a gripping novel that paints a very real and brutally honest picture of life in Britain today, especially the racism and bigotry that has become even more prevalent since the Brexit vote of 2016.
This book broke me with its unflinching honesty – but somehow managed to put me back together again, leaving me with a feeling of hope rather than despair as I turned the final page. A stunning and thought provoking read that I would highly recommend.
4. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Wow, what can I say? The Silent Patient completely blew me away! It’s an astounding psychological thriller that’s full of surprises, with an intricate plot that twists and turns, leading to a denouement that will take your breath away. I can’t say too much as I don’t want to spoil anything, but this is a book that deserves to be shouted about from the rooftops. But it’s also a book best read cold, without knowing too much about it. It is, without a doubt, one of the best debut thrillers I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended.
5. The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman
As with all of Rowan Coleman’s books, The Girl at the Window is a book to be savoured. It’s a hauntingly beautiful, spine tingling and atmospheric read that is so deliciously creepy it sends shivers down your spine. Her words weave their magic, sending swirling tendrils of emotion to wrap around your heart, gently squeezing until you feel it’s about to stop. The author’s love of Ponden Hall and Emily Bronte shine through with every page, bringing them both vividly to life as Trudy slowly begins to uncover more of their secrets as the book progresses.
The Girl at the Window is beautiful ghost story that’s filled to the brim with grief, loss, love and hope. There are some genuinely chilling moments to make you shiver as the echoes of the past collide with present day Ponden Hall and the people who live within its walls. It’s a hauntingly beautiful, deliciously creepy and emotionally satisfying story that I can’t recommend highly enough.
6. Expectation by Anna Hope
What happened to the women we were supposed to become? Isn’t that a question most of us have asked ourselves from time to time? I know I have. I often think about all the hopes and dreams I had all those years ago, most of which did not come to fruition. Expectation is a beautifully written and emotional novel that explores just that and is a book that will stay with me. I felt bereft as I turned the final page, not wanting to say goodbye to these characters I had grown to love.
Flawed as they are, Hannah, Cate and Lissa shine a spotlight on the reality and disappointment of life through the years… and I loved them for it. Their actions are not always kind or the right thing to do, but they feel so real, their pain feels so real, and they mirror the imperfections that are in us all. A stunning and thought provoking book that I simply adored.
7. Violet by SJI Holliday
A superb psychological thriller that captures your imagination from the very first page, Violet is the story of two young women who meet by chance and decide to go travelling together. You’re not sure who to trust from the very beginning, with the tension increasing with every page, never quite knowing what to expect next. Are they able to trust each other? Or is one – or both – of these women harbouring secrets they’re desperate to keep hidden?
A cautionary tale of being careful of who you trust when travelling alone, it chillingly shines a spotlight on all the reasons why joining forces with a random stranger and putting your life into their hands is really not such a good idea! Outstanding.
8. A Modern Family by Helga Flatland
Oh wow, what a special and beautifully written book this is! A Modern Family is the new novel by acclaimed Norwegian author Helga Flatland, and has been stunningly translated by the talented Rosie Hedger. It tells the bittersweet story of one family’s struggle to cope with their parents decision to divorce after more than 40 years of marriage.
This is a book that got right under my skin, making me think of my own family and how something totally shocking and unexpected can happen that changes everything in the blink of an eye. I can’t even put into words how much I loved this book. A beautiful and moving read that was an easy choice to include in my top ten.
9. Five Steps to Happy by Ella Dove
Oh my goodness, what a beautiful, moving and inspiring debut novel this is! It’s so nice to have a positive story that shows what living with a disability can be like, instead of the doom and gloom we usually see. It’s made all the more poignant as it is based on the real life events that happened to author Ella Dove,so you know it comes from a place of true authenticity and understanding. Five Steps to Happy is a beautifully written book that I fell in love with from the outset. The author’s real life experience of the difficulties people with disabilities face on a day to day basis shines through with every word. The larger than life characters Heidi meets in this book are a true delight and felt very real to me.
As the parent and carer of a young adult with a lifelong disability, I couldn’t help but feel a personal connection to this beautiful book. Even though my daughter’s circumstances are very different to Heidi’s, it was inspiring to finally read a story where having a disability didn’t have to mean the end of the world, but could very well be the start of a new one that is filled with endless possibilities. A stunning, beautiful and moving read that will stay with me.
10. Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech
Call Me Star Girl is a powerful and moving psychological thriller that lures you in from the very first page. Stella McKeever is about to host her final radio show and wants it to be all about secrets. If you tell her yours, she’ll share some of hers. But no one could possibly expect the devastatingly dark turn things are about to take, with the creepiness and isolation of being alone at the radio station ratcheting up the tension to almost breaking point. I had no idea how heartbreakingly twisted the story was about to become, but Louise Beech is an extraordinary storyteller and her exquisite writing held me in thrall right up until the final page had been turned.
An atmospheric and haunting psychological thriller that is as moving as it is suspenseful, Call Me Star Girl is a dark, twisted and stunning read that is easily one of my top reads of 2019.
11. The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott
Yes, I am aware that there were only supposed to be ten books on this list, but there was no way I could post a ‘Best Books of the Year’ list without including this exceptional debut novel by Caroline Scott. It isn’t very often that a debut novel comes along that is so hauntingly beautiful you find it difficult to put your emotions down into words. But The Photographer of the Lost is one such book. I was mesmerised from the opening paragraph right through to the incredibly moving and unforgettable conclusion.
It is a vividly portrayed snapshot into the lives of the men who were lost amongst the devastating chaos and ruins of World War One. But it’s also the story of those who were left behind, those men and women who were desperate to find their loved ones again. Caroline Scott has written a book so haunting I know it will stay with me for a long time to come. A beautifully written and brutally honest account of a time in history that should never be forgotten, I loved every word of this story that’s full of so many poignant and moving moments that will stay with me forever. A special book that I simply had to include in my top reads of the year.
Some of the books I’m looking forward to reading in 2020:
Here’s to another fabulous year of books!
Look out for my first book review of 2020 soon.