A brew and a chat

Top Bookshelf Picks of 2020

What a year 2020 turned out to be!

An absolute bloody nightmare to be honest. Many of us must have gone through one of the worst years in living memory. My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a loved one this year, be it Covid related or otherwise, it has been an incredibly difficult time for many.

Covid has had an effect one way or another on just about everything including the book world. Libraries closed, book shops closed and publishing didn’t escape interruption either. There were two or three books I read early on in the year that were due for publication in May but didn’t make it until much later into the year, but well worth the wait.

Whilst some of us struggled to concentrate on reading, for others getting engrossed in a good story has been a real boredom buster and an escape from reality. After the first couple of weeks into our first lockdown back in March/April I found it strange when reading a book. People gathering together, going on trains, going to the pub, generally mixing together, it was a strange feeling to read about normal life without constantly feeling on edge – fearing for the characters health and safety in each book. Haha, just shows how real the characters in a book become in our minds.

Anyway to the point of the post then. Again this year, it was difficult to choose which books should sit there on that Top Shelf of book choices for 2020. I’ve read some really good books, so without further rambling here they are. I’ve taken one book from each bookshelf/genre:-

Family Drama

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

I’ve read a few books on this kind of theme with an older person as the main protagonist. They always turn out to be such heart-warming stories, with smiles and sadness in equal measure. This was no exception. It tells the story of 79-year-old Missy Carmichael who lives alone, missing a son and grandson who live the other side of the world in Australia and an estranged daughter who she’s too afraid to contact. I missed all the characters in this book when I’d finished it. Here’s my review

♦     ♦     ♦

Chick-Lit/Rom Com

Confessions of a Forty-something F##k Up by Alexandra Potter

Well since this is the only book I’ve put under the heading of Chick-Lit/Rom Com it was bound to be a winner. It is difficult sometimes to know just where to fit books under the genre headings I have. This could just as easily have gone in the next category of contemporary fiction and humour but as that’s probably where most of the books I absolutely love end up, it then makes it impossible to choose.

No matter which category, this is still one of my best loved books of 2020. It’s funny, proper laugh out loud funny but it is also a warm, friendly and quite uplifting read too. Here’s more in my review

♦     ♦     ♦

Contemporary Fiction and Humour

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn

This is my favourite genre, always there with a book to bring a smile and a little warm glow both while reading and even after the book is finished. None more so than this absolute gem of a book. This really is my favourite read of the whole year. Beautifully written, with both humour and heartbreaking moments and with an ending that makes you swoon with happiness. However coming a very close second and a book I have to mention was Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie, another wonderful story based on the lives of real people who could so easily be any one of us. My review for Dawn Brightside.

♦     ♦     ♦

Psychological Suspense/Thriller

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

There are some good books on this bookshelf. I have both of Robert Bryndza’s books on there that I read this year (well maybe I read the first one towards the end of 2019 then did the blog tour January). I love the new Kate Marshall series and can’t wait for book 3 in the series out towards the end of 2021. However The Heatwave by Kate Riordan really sticks in my mind. It was so atmospheric. Set in the South of France in a lovely isolated villa but in the heatwave, the smell of the forest fires burning always seems like a constant threat. It’s a place Sylvie would really prefer to forget. Just like the forest fires, this is a slow burner, tension mounts slowly, culminating in shocks and a chilling end. Brilliant!

♦     ♦     ♦

Historical Fiction

V2 by Robert Harris

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, so there aren’t many books in this genre that I’ve read this year to choose from. This one though, was just so good. To me, it wasn’t just historical, it was very much a thriller too. During WWII London was heavily targeted with V2 missiles which left death and destruction in their wake. This plot covers both sides of the story. In Holland where the rockets were launched by Germany and Belgium where British WAAF’s are based to try to locate where the rockets are being launched from. An absolutely fascinating book, and one which was quite a departure from the books I normally read. Here’s my review.

♦     ♦     ♦

Non Fiction

Staunch by Eleanor Wood

I read this book in the cold and dark days of January. Jetting off to somewhere sunny and warm would have been my idea of heaven, instead I joined Eleanor Wood, her gran and her two great Aunts and went off on a trip to Goa, India, which turned out to be the next best thing. As you’ll see in my review I didn’t realise this was a memoir until I’d read quite a few chapters. I really enjoyed the narrative, and the story of the authors gran and great Aunts who were born in India but later came to settle in the UK was fascinating. Highly recommended.

♦     ♦     ♦

So there they are, a selection of my best loved books of 2020. Thank goodness for books is all I can say. I’m sure none of us will be sorry to say goodbye to this momentous (for all the wrong reasons) year.

Thank you for following my blog and for your kind support. I wish you all a peaceful Christmas, and no matter how you may be celebrating, do stay safe. We’ve come this far, hopefully 2021 will see us through better times.

♥ Merry Christmas and Happy Reading ♥

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