Tag: best books

Top Reads of 2020!

We’re well underway into January, and I’m hoping to read as many great books in 2021 as I did last year – if not more! Today’s post is all about sharing the book love and talking about my favourite reads of 2020.

I shared a similar post last year and I enjoyed having the opportunity to feature all my top reads in one place. It’s also a great way for you, readers, to get a lot of recommendations all in one post. I hope your TBR’s can handle it!

I’ve picked my top 5 books/book series of 2020 and I list them in descending order:-

 

The Dark Chorus – Ashley Meggitt

The Dark Chorus by Ashley Meggitt | Goodreads

Oblivion awaits the Angel’s salvation

The Boy can see lost souls.

He has never questioned the fact that he can see them. He thinks of them as the Dark Chorus. When he sets out to restore the soul of his dead mother it becomes clear that his ability comes from within him. It is a force that he cannot ignore – the last shard of the shattered soul of an angel.

To be restored to the kingdom of light, the shard must be cleansed of the evil that infects it – but this requires the corrupt souls of the living!

With the help from Makka, a psychotically violent young man full of hate, and Vee, an abused young woman full of pain, the Boy begins to kill.

Psychiatrist Dr Eve Rhodes is seconded to assist the police investigation into the Boy’s apparently random ritualistic killings. As the investigation gathers pace, a pattern emerges. When Eve pulls at the thread from an article in an old psychology journal, what might otherwise have seemed to her a terrible psychotic delusion now feels all too real…

Will the Boy succeed in restoring the angel’s soul to the light? Can Eve stop him, or will she be lost to realm of the Dark Chorus?

 

I really enjoyed the characterisation and themes of The Dark Chorus. It’s rare to find stories with children/young adults as the main characters that also have sophistication to the narrative. The Dark Chorus alludes to themes that some people might not like to read, but if you’re not shy then I definitely recommend this book!

 

 

The Dead Tell Lies – J. F. Kirwan

The Dead Tell Lies: an absolutely gripping mystery thriller by J.F. Kirwan | Goodreads

Greg Adams, a criminal psychologist at Scotland Yard, specialises in bringing serial killers to justice. He tracks down a spree serial killer nicknamed the Divine, who has already killed six teenage girls and is about to kill a seventh. Greg works out the location where he is hiding and joins a raid. The police capture the Divine and save the girl, but on the very same night, Greg’s wife is brutally murdered by another serial killer, known as the Dreamer.

A year later, unable to bring the killer to justice, Greg has quit his job and is ready to end it all, when he receives a phone call from a man who tells him the Dreamer is dead, and that he didn’t kill Greg’s wife, Kate.

Greg returns to Scotland Yard to work for Superintendent Chief Detective Donaldson in the hope he can re-examine the case with the help of two new detectives, Finch and Matthews.

As Greg delves into the case further, he becomes more convinced that the Dreamer wasn’t the man responsible for his wife’s murder.

But if it wasn’t the Dreamer, who was it?

In order to solve the mystery around his wife’s murder, Greg is going to have to delve even deeper into the mind of a terrifying psychopath. And this time he might not make it back in one piece…

 

This is an intense psychological thriller and it was that good, I read it in a matter of days!

For me, the best indicator of a good psychological thriller is how obsessed you become about trying to work everything out. If it occupies your mind even when you have to put down the book to do the mundane things, you’re on to a good start. Find one that keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing until all is revealed, and you are onto a winner!

The Dead Tell Lies is definitely one of these books – if you love a thriller this might just be something you would like to read.

 

 

Darkdawn – Jay Kristoff

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3) by Jay Kristoff | Goodreads

The epic conclusion to the internationally bestselling Nevernight Chronicle from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

The greatest games in Godsgrave’s history have ended with the most audacious murders in the history of the Itreyan Republic.

Mia Corvere, gladiatii, escaped slave and infamous assassin, is on the run. Pursued by Blades of the Red Church and soldiers of the Luminatii legion, she may never escape the City of Bridges and Bones alive. Her mentor Mercurio is now in the clutches of her enemies. Her own family wishes her dead. And her nemesis, Consul Julius Scaeva, stands but a breath from total dominance over the Republic.

But beneath the city, a dark secret awaits. Together with her lover Ashlinn, brother Jonnen and a mysterious benefactor returned from beyond the veil of death, she must undertake a perilous journey across the Republic, seeking the final answer to the riddle of her life. Truedark approaches. Night is falling on the Republic for perhaps the final time.

Can Mia survive in a world where even daylight must die?

New York Times and internationally bestselling author Jay Kristoff’s writing has been praised by critics and readers alike and has won many awards, including four Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, and David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards.

 

I had no idea how this series was going to wrap up. Nevernight and Godsgrave were amazing… so good I was worried Darkdawn would let me down with the ending.

It was fantastic – I needn’t have been worried. I did have quite a book hangover for a day or two though. I didn’t know what I could pick up next because there was no way it was going to be able to compete!

 

Mistborn Books 4-6 – Brandon Sanderson

The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, #4) by Brandon Sanderson | Goodreads

Shadows of Self (Mistborn, #5) by Brandon Sanderson | Goodreads

The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn, #6) by Brandon Sanderson | Goodreads

(Synopsis for The Alloy of Law)

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

 

I couldn’t pick just one of these books, so I have all three books of this second Mistborn series on my Top Reads list. Mistborn was the series that introduced me to Brandon Sanderson. Since reading that trilogy I have gone away and read more of his books and loved them all.

Revisiting the universe of the Mistborn with this follow-up series was like meeting up with an old friend. There are a lot of aspects of the original trilogy that are touched on in these books. Equally, they also have a bit more of a modern touch which I enjoyed. The update to the magic system originally constructed in the first series is very clever but also very feasible; it adds to the overall concept of progress/development we see across the two series.

I think I actually prefer the setting and characters of this second half of the series. It’s one I’m sure I’ll re-read again in future.

 

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay | Goodreads

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller and Humour Book of the Year
Winner of the Books Are My Bag Book of the Year
Winner of iBooks’ Book of the Year

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

 

This is Going to Hurt is one of those rollercoaster books. It had me howling with laughter one minute and crying the next. It’s also reaffirmed the respect I have for the staff in the NHS and just how much we owe to them for keeping us all going.

This is Going to Hurt was actually recommended and loaned to me by a work colleague. I hadn’t planned to pick it up last year at all, but I’m glad I did. I also went on to read Adam Kay’s later published novella, Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas too. As soon as I had read This is Going to Hurt I planned reading the novella in December.  It’s a book you end up thinking about long after you’ve finished reading it. Well, if you’re me at least.

It’s fair to say from this list that I really did pick up some great books last year… and from a diverse range of genres too! If you haven’t read these already, I am sure any one of these books could appeal to you!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Top Reads of 2020 post! If you have read any of these books, let me know in the comments! Alternatively, what was your favourite read of 2020? Please let me know!

 

 

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Top Reads of 2019!

I really enjoyed writing my Year in Books post, which looked back at my reading progress, resolutions and achievements in 2019. Today’s post is going to reflect to last year’s reading as well. It’s the perfect time to talk about my favourite reads of the year – why I loved them and why I hope I can persuade you to read them as well!

I have read a number of similar posts by bloggers and enjoyed them. Some have even written worst book posts, although I have decided I won’t be writing one of those posts. I didn’t read a bad book at all last year and none were unfinished. It wouldn’t be fair to a book on that list to label it as the “worst” just because it was “okay” instead of “great”.

So, instead, let’s spread some book positivity and talk about my best reads in 2019! Unfortunately, I can’t feature all 30 of my 5* reads of the year, so I have narrowed it down to the best of the best, and most likely, the books I’ll want to re-read in the future! I take that as the best measure of which books made the biggest impression on me throughout the year. So, let’s dive in!

 

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Goodreads – The Testaments

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK     Amazon US    Waterstones

I cannot tell you how excited I was for the publication of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood last year. It’s rare that I pre-order books in anticipation of their publication, but this was a notable exception. That actually worked out in my favour too, as I was entered into the prize draw held by my local store to win a signed copy – and I won!
It’s funny, because the first time I read the prequel, The Handmaid’s Tale years ago, I hated it. I put it down about a third of the way through. I was only a teenager then; the appetite for this kind of narrative has come with maturity, I think.
I’m glad that The Testaments wasn’t written too similarly to The Handmaid’s Tale. I think trying to mimic the style of the original 30 years later would have been a mistake. I like the fresh perspectives that we get in The Testaments from multiple characters and backgrounds within and around Gilead. It’s a lot more modern and consequently, more applicable to readers in today’s society!

 

The Chalk Man – C. J. Tudor

Goodreads – The Chalk Man

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK     Amazon US      Waterstones

After reading The Chalk Man, I was surprised to be reminded that this is the debut novel by C. J. Tudor. I already had my eye on other books written by her, but I will certainly be reading them now! I mean, I’ve even recommended this to my mum to read; she has my copy at the moment.

The Chalk Man is the kind of book that has you guessing until the end. It’s cleverly written, entwining two timelines 30 years apart to unravel the truth behind the identity of the chalk man and the murder of a young woman that has remained unsolved for 30 years.

The characters are something else as well! There is so much depth to them that they are very real and easy to invest into. They are also portrayed cleverly and I think the author has written them in such a way as to suggest what your perception of them should be. It’s so subtle but it’s all part of maintaining the suspense and mystery.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK     Amazon US      Waterstones

There was no way I was going to be able to pick just one of these books to feature. Individually and collectively they are brilliant fantasy novels. I wouldn’t describe myself as a binge reader particularly. I like the variety. All the same, I devoured this series! I read the first book on holiday in October and finished the series with a matter of weeks until the end of the year!
The combination of a unique premise, fantastical characters and creatures, magic and humour worked really well for me! I’ll play the devil’s advocate and say that I did not expect to like the whole relationship element between a couple of the main characters. Yet, I did. Their relationship, in my opinion, is a lot less sexual than most. Both characters have grown up without a real sense of family, so their union is emotional; it’s about belonging and trust.
As always, Laini Taylor’s writing is beautiful. The narrative is effortless to read. These books may be several hundred pages each, but the pages sail by as you get lost in the story!

 

Simon Says – Jo Wesley

Goodreads – Simon Says

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK      Amazon US

Now we get to my second-best rated book of the year and it was a tight contender for the top spot! I was blown away by this book. The subject matter is dark and gritty and it drew me in immediately. Simon Says is also a dual timeline narrative – one of my favourite formats. As a reader, we get to experience events spiralling to their feared, inevitable conclusion in Cindy’s childhood and live through the aftermath and her confronting those demons in her adult life.

All of the characters are very true to life and reflect the different ways in which people react to such a traumatic event. It was an emotional rollercoaster for me too. From feeling sick to sad and then rage at how a young girl has had to go through something so awful, I felt it all.

I read Simon Says back in September 2019 and to this day I still think about it occasionally. It’s stuck with me. I can’t tell you why, but it has.

Crowfall – Ed McDonald

Goodreads – Crowfall

Purchase Links: – Amazon UK      Amazon US     Waterstones

Finally, a shout out to my favourite read of 2019 and of course, it would be a fantasy novel! The world, the magic and fantasy setting of Crowfall is truly unique. I have loved the series from day 1 and I was very happy, but equally sad to have finished it! It’s definitely very high up on my list of books to re-read.

Ryhalt is an anti-hero you cannot help but invest into. He’s a flawed, unlucky in love drunk at the beck and call of a deity essentially as powerful as a God. He’s been corrupted by magic poisoning a land known as the Misery… for a very good reason! In an epic battle between the Nameless and the Deep Kings, humans are no more than collateral damage – and they want to unleash a magical weapon just like the one that corrupted the Misery in the first place!

Grimdark is a genre rapidly going up in my good books. I also really loved reading Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire series. Between Mark Lawrence and Ed McDonald, they have set a VERY high bar for the genre.

So there you have it! These were my best reads of 2019! Have you read any of these books or added them to your TBR? I’d love to know what you make of them in the comments.

 

 

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