My Top Book Choices of 2020 by Lou #2020Reads #AdultFiction #CrimeFiction #Fiction #Thrillers #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Uplit

My Top Book Choices of 2020
Various Authors

I have read and reviewed a huge amount of very good books. It has taken a lot of time and consideration to whittle them down to create the Top Book Choices List. All those that did not make this particular list, were incredibly close. I have added links so you can easily see what the books are about. The books are in no particular order. Look out for my top Adult Non-Fiction List and my top Children’s Fiction List, both are in separate posts.

Top Adult Fiction Books

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman Click Here for More Info

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor Click Here for More Info

Killing Rock by Robert Daws Click Here for More Info

Daughters of Cornwall by Fern Britton Click Here for More Info

What Lies Beneath by Adam Croft Click Here for More Info

Orfeia by Joanne M. Harris Click Here for More Info

Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver Click Here for More Info

Us Three by Ruth Jones Click Here for More Info

Perfume Paradiso by Janey Jones Click Here for More Info

The Things I Want To Say but Can’t by Carla Christian Click Here for More Info

The House of Correction by Nicci French Click Here for More Info

Tell  Me How It Ends by Isabelle Grey Click Here for More Info

The Colours by Juliet Bates Click Here for More Info

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce Click Here for More Info

Letters From the Past by Erica James Click Here for More Info

One Step Behind by Lauren North Click Here for More Info

The Unravelling by Liz Treacher Click Here for More Info

Christmas With the Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell Click Here for More Info

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman Click Here for More Info

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie Click Here for More Info

Butterflies by D.E. McCluskey Click Here for More Info

Contacts by Mark Watson Click Here for More Info

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley Click Here for More Info

The Guest List by Lucy Foley Click Here for More Info

Summer on A Sunny Island by Sue Moorcroft Click Here for More Info

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths Click Here for More Info

The Garden of Forgotten Wishes by Trisha Ashley Click Here for More Info

Lion Heart by Ben Kane Click Here for More Info

Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb Click Here for More Info

With Or Without You by Drew Davies Click Here for More Info

#Bookreview by Lou of Love In Lockdown by Chloe James – Happy Publication Day @FionaWoodifield @ElliePilcher95 @AvonBooksUK #WomensFiction #Romance

Love In Lockdown
By Chloe James
Rated: 5 stars *****

Love In Lockdown shows so many displays of love through kindness, empathy, romance and much more. It is emotional but it is also uplifting about all of life, from human to nature during lockdown and how people connected and what occurred and how nature became the most vibrant it has ever been in decades. It has glimmers of humour, warmth and hope in what is a unique and surprisingly delightful read that everyone will be able to find something to connect and relate to in this book, which is the first of its kind to focus on relationships and community during the stress of the backdrop of Covid 19. It is far from depressing and instead leaves an unexpected warmth.

Thank you so much to Ellie Pilcher from Avon Books who sent me an invite to review.
Please do discover the blurb and full review below.

Love In Lockdown pic

Blurb

What if you met the right person at the wrong time?

Lockdown is putting Sophia’s life on pause – just as she planned to put herself out there and meet someone. When the first clap for the keyworkers rings out around her courtyard, she’s moved to tears for all kinds of reasons.

Jack is used to living life to the fullest. He’s going stir-crazy after just days isolating. Until the night he hears a woman crying from the balcony under his. He strikes up a conversation with the stranger and puts a smile on her face.

Soon their balcony meetings are the highlight of Jack and Sophia’s days. But even as they grow closer together, they’re always kept apart.

Can they fall in love during a lockdown?

Perfect for fans of The Flatshare.
Love In Lockdown pic 2

Review

This unique book reflects the times that we live in, but that doesn’t mean it is all doom and gloom; far from it! It is a book that is not now just universal because love is, but also because we are all in some form or another experiencing living with Covid 19. It is all relatable and yet, as much as Covid 19 is challenging and can be harrowing, this book is surprisingly uplifting as well, within a wonderfully written realism of a community coming together through the stressful times, and yet relationships are formed despite this. It is written well with so much acknowledged throughout, whilst telling a great story.

There is Erica who works as a midwife and Jenny who is having to self-isolate due to having underlying issues. Everything from the weather being gorgeously sunny to what was on TV to Zoom  to what happened in education to clapping for the NHS is included and more… In some ways this is a novel that may help people never to forget these moments and also will show generations to come what we are currently living through and have lived through, all in a fictionalised book that has so much reality. It is all moving and endearing. There is also the worry and emotion that runs through these moments and also a baby being born. It, quite originally, shows  the father and his emotions throughout the pregnancy and when the baby is born. He is a complex character with some secrets to behold and has some twists and turns in his life.

The loss of freedoms is pronounced and how humans had to adapt to living socially distanced and also virtually, but so is the vibrancy of nature that emerged in all its splendour, taking back its space.

It’s also a love story about meeting someone online during times of lockdown as the App, Hinge is discovered. There is some humour attached to this. There are also cakes and cocktails and all the social distancing on the balcony and courtyard as life changes and yet still goes on.

The book shows how connected people can be and it is interesting getting to know all the characters personalities and seeing some as “drama queens” and others showing kindness and empathy. It is in some ways thought-provoking without being heavy, as characters realise that priorities change a bit within their lives during the pandemic and for what to focus on afterwards and how relationships can change.

It is ultimately and meaningful, delightful book to read.

#Bookreview by Lou of My Only Child by Sam Vickery #SamVickery @bookouture @sarahardy681

My Only Child
By Sam Vickery
Rated: 4 stars ****

Raw, Emotional and Realistic! This book will take you to the heart of grief and all that surrounds it and yet compel to read on right to the end. I am delighted to be bringing the blog tour to a close.
Thanks to Sarah Hardy and Bookouture for inviting me to review.
Follow down for more about the author, the blurb and my review.

About the Author

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Sam Vickery is an English author who loves gritty, emotional stories that can        make  you sob. As a child, she was forever getting in trouble for being caught with   her nose in a book, and these days are no different. She lives on the south coast of   England with her husband, two children and a cat that thinks it’s a dog.

Blurb

There he is, my baby boy. His eyes are closed, his tiny rosebud mouth is pursed in sleep. My eyes well up as I catch a whiff of his newborn skin and I swallow back a wave of emotion. I should feel happy, I should feel grateful, but all I can think about is everything I just lost…

It’s a miracle when Katherine’s baby boy is born healthy. But his twin sister doesn’t survive, and when Katherine is told she can’t have any more children the loss is almost too much for her to bear.

Katherine always saw herself having a big family: she remembers how the loneliness of being an only child used to overwhelm her, and she is desperate to adopt a sibling for her son.

But her husband Davis won’t agree. He worries that Katherine will struggle when the new baby arrives. What if growing their family only adds to the grief she feels over losing her little girl? What if this breaks their marriage apart?

And Katherine is forced to make a choice. Give up the second child she has always dreamed of or risk losing the family she already has?

An unforgettable and heart-wrenching page-turner about fighting for those we love. Readers of Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain and Kate Hewitt will remember this story forever.

My-Only-Child-Kindle

Review

From the outset, this is dramatic with a hysterectomy being required and the utter sadness and devastation that Katherine has to live with. It’s high on very intense emotion. It’s a book that will resonate with so many people who have experienced loss and especially loss of a child.

The book goes between Katherine and Hazel. It isn’t all about the sadness though. There’s some more positive emotions too, through some heartwarming romance and care shown as the book flips a bit between “Then” and “Now”. This is a real family story of strength, growing up, romance, love in all different forms, sadness. It has it all. It isn’t a relaxing read, but then loss is anything but a chilled out experience and it is raw and then when opportunities are taken from you, they heighten even more and it is captured well in this book. The grief is written so believably. I’m sure many readers will have experienced grief before, even if not with the loss of a child, but with a loved one and will be able to easily empathise and sympathise with the characters and recognise the signs, including the physical ones. It’s pretty detailed. It is a book that you can, even though the subject matter is deep, get caught up in and be whisked all the way to the end in a couple of sittings.

There is hope for a future after experiencing so much devastating heartbreak and anguish, but there is also the sense of things tearing apart at the seams. It’s pretty realistic because after such grief, people do all react differently and it isn’t all plain-sailing, as is depicted throughout. The ending is so tender, it’s worth reaching there too.

My Only Child - BT Poster (1)

#BookReview by Lou of Contacts by Mark Watson @watsoncomedian @HarperCollinsUK #NewBook #Fiction

Contacts
By Mark Watson
Rated: 5 stars ***** 

Contacts has so much poignancy and a great message within it for society. It is so well-written that those pages just have to keep turning to see how it ends. Thank you to Harper Collins UK for the e-book.
Please follow down to the blurb and full review.

Contacts by Mark Watson

Blurb

One man’s last journey. One hundred and fifty-eight chances to save his life.The unforgettable new book from award-winning writer and comedian Mark Watson – available to pre-order now!’Mark Watson is one of my favourite writers and Contacts is by far his best book yet’ Adam Kay‘Witty, emotional and beautifully written’ Jill Mansell‘It made me laugh, cry, reflect and want to check in on all my friends’ Emma Gannon ‘This is such a great book, funny and serious and daring and humane’ Richard CurtisOne man’s last journey. One hundred and fifty-eight chances to save his life.James Chiltern boards the 23:50 sleeper train from London to Edinburgh with two pork pies, six beers and a packet of chocolate digestives. At 23:55 he sends a message to all 158 people in his contacts, telling them that he plans to end his life in the morning. He then switches his phone to flight mode. He’s said goodbye. To him, it’s the end of his story – and time to crack open the biscuits.But across the world, 158 phones are lighting up with a notification. Phones belonging to his mum. His sister. His ex-best friend. The woman who broke his heart. People he’s lost touch with. People he barely knows. And for them, the message is only the beginning of the journey.Funny and wise, tender and deeply moving, Contacts is a beautiful story about the weight of loneliness, the importance of kindness – and how it’s never too late to reach out.

Contacts by Mark Watson

Review

The first sentence is a real attention grabber as eyes widen because it is is the most unexpected opening line that may make readers gasp or take a sharp-intake of breath. 158 people receive a text that will shock to the core, from James who is at that time on the London to Edinburgh train.

This is a book that displays the human condition and some of societies ills incredibly well. It’s hard-hitting and essential reading, but not just a book to read and forget, it’s one of those books that are thought-provoking and will make you think about society and people more and better. It’s about lonliness, but refreshingly, not in the older generation, but the young generation. It shows an underrated topic in such a true light. The emotions are raw and authentic.

James recalls meeting Karl in 2007 and deciding he didn’t need many contacts and now he was withdrawing somewhat on a train up to Edinburgh. It’s a deep, dark book that contains the much taboo subject of suicide in some of the narrative, which makes it essential reading, along with the lonliness, because James is essentially a lonely, intelligent young man.

The book moves onto Sally Chiltern, James sister in Melbourne and Michaela Adler, an ex, in Berlin who both receive the text message and their reactions to the unexpected message and an insight into their lives. There is also an insight to Jean Chiltern, his mum in Bristol, who is informed of the text by Sally. There is then the reactions of the other people who have also looked at their phones.

The book is so current that it even goes into characters doing the Couch to 5K and having a language app. There is some humour amongst the book. It isn’t all dark and bleak.

It is heartwarming to see the kindness of people who are trying to find James and save him from certain death and each other from such lonliness and the impact that has on people. It really raises the issue that it isn’t just the elderly, so compassionately and well and within some terrific and responsible story-telling. It reminds people that there is always someone to talk to, such as the Samaritans too.

Mark Watson, having been in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival and indeed a book launch does take James into Waverley Station and into the city, which is accurately depicted. I know this as I go into Edinburgh a fair bit. It leads to the end of what is an incredibly poignant story that shows an enormous amount of humanity and hope, even when things seem to be at their bleakest. It honestly is such a strong and courageous book that I feel could, if enough people read and really think about it, could feed a lot of good into society and help people talk about their issues and to think of others differently. It’s such an amazing book and one of those rare books that I don’t think will leave me any time soon.

On another note – please don’t suffer in silence. As the book alludes to, it is never too late to reach out. Here is a link to Samaritans. It is free and confidential http://www.samaritans.org

Write Up by Lou of Q&A with Cecelia Ahern @Cecelia_Ahern @BeccaKBryant @LizDawsonPR #Postscript

Q&A with Cecelia Ahern
Ahead of the paperback publication of Postscript
the sequel to PS. I Love You!

I have been given a great honour of joining a small group of book bloggers to collaboratively interview PS. I Love You author Cecelia Ahern. She has now published the sequel – Postscript, in which the hardback is available now. The paperback is available 1st October 2020.

First – the blurb of Postscript and a short review, with a more full on review to follow at a later date. Do follow the blurb, the short review and then onto the Q&A where you can find out some really exciting information about Postscript, what she is writing next and much more…

The PS, I Love You Club.

These are the six words written on a card handed to Holly Kennedy. They’re words that are engraved on her heart – because PS, I Love You is how her husband, Gerry, signed his last letters to her, letters that mark a year she will never forget.

Now, the mysterious club wants something from her. And if Holly can find the courage meet them, she’ll learn what it really means to live life to the full.

Because every love story has one last thing to say…

Postscript pic

Short review

Postscript is just amazing as it tackles so many themes from health issues to grieving. It’s a beautifully written book that has so much emotion within it. The health issues have clearly been researched, but don’t dominate. There is plenty of positivity in this book. It is, even after all these years, is at least as good as PS I Love You, if not a bit better in how it is written. Nothing is lost and there’s everything to gain when reading this, including feeling that it is a really emotional journey, but one taken with passion and feels heartfelt. It’s a great book to get reacquainted with Holly and other characters and meet some new ones too.

Cecelia Ahern pic    Postscript pic  
Q&A

How did you spend Lockdown?

Building Hogwarts Lego. That took about 4 weeks and worked on it for about an hour every evening.
She danced and cooked and walked a lot and got excited when the Irish government also increased the distance of travel from 2km to 5km and could go to a coffee shop to buy a coffee.

Cecelia also has 3 children of the ages of a nearly 1 year old, an 8 and a 10 year old. She hopes never to do homeschooling again.

Do you think as a writer lockdown suited you well?

She reckoned it doesn’t suit everybody, perhaps not extroverts who get their energy from being around other people. She is comfortable about not socialising all the time. She did however miss her family.
She was on maternity leave until May. She then started to edit her new novel (more about that later).#

What sort of research she went into for health issues within the book, such as Cancer and MS?

She wanted to not get into Hollie’s appointments too much to get a balance. There were many drafts and some were more involved than others. There were 4 people who were ill. She wanted more of an introduction to each illness. MS she was fairly familiar with beacause she takes part in the MS Readathon in every year in Ireland.
She wanted to introduce a brain tumour so Hollie was watching a young man going through the same thing.
She thoughtfully pointed out that everyone doesn’t experience the same thing in every illness. She didn’t want to be vague or wishy-washy, but also not too caught up in it. She wanted to concentrate on some of the hope.
She also talked candidly about emphasemia, which is in the book too, as her grandmother had it and had smoked all her life. She talked how there was still humour, even though she was going round with an oxygen tank near the end of her life and wanted some of the humour to come through, which she does well.

From Writing PS I Love You and so many years later, Postcript. How was it for you to write the sequel?

She was never going to write Postcript as she was perfectly happy with how it ended and PS. I Love You was a huge success. PS. I Love You made her and she didn’t want a sequel to break her. She also likes writing different books year on year.
In 2012 she thought about the things that you do for people you’re going to leave behind, so got inspired to write a story from the opposite perspective of PS. I Love You and also then from the perspective of people about to say goodbye and the preparations. She really wanted to put Hollie in it and look at it from Gerry’s perspective. She then had to find the seeds she planted in PS I Love You, like sunflower seeds within that book.
She talked about how it was really challenging to write. In Postcript she has to look at the letters again and looking at the positives and not so and wanted to address how there was conflict between them.
She started to write before she told her publishers to see if she could and felt emotional enough about it, which she did.

Who did you write the book for?

She wrote it for her and those who really love PS I Love You and had it in mind that so many people loved that book. She also looked at the tone of the book and also show the writer she was then and the writer she is now, but without taking too many wild leaps, like in her short story collection, and went back to the humour and sweet tone of PS I Love You.

How did you feel when Postcript went out to readers?

She said that a lot of people have read it before-hand and tries not to get hung up on that, but hopes it is better than the first novel.

The members of the PS I Love You Club. How did you decide which problems to bring into the club and are there any you thought of and discounted?

I wanted to have different illnesses. She knew from the beginning she wanted a mother and the Will idea. Geneka is her favourite. She wanted a mother and a Will and having her want to learn to write letters for her child.

Film

Postcript will be made into a film. Hillary Swank emailed Cecelia wanting to read Postcript. She will be in the film because she said of all the films she has made, PS I Love You is mentioned the most and everyone involved in that film say the same thing. The same production team and writer will be involved again in the film. She has a lot to juggle from the book and the PS. I Love You film.

What author inpires you in your work most of all?

She reads fiction and loves crime fiction, especially Karen Slaughter and Lee Child and Jane Casey. She loves One World Publications because they publish and translate from all over the world. She also loves poetry, such as those from Sarah Cross. She also reads YA novels.
If she ever wrote a crime novel, she would write golden-age crime novel, not the forensic side.

Her next novel is called Freckles, due in autumn 2021. It’s works around the theme that comes from a phrase “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
It’s about a character who is very logical and straightforward parking-warden. She hears this expression and starts to look at the people around her and wonders if she wants to be the average of those five people and if she could curate her life in who she wants to be. So, she reaches out to certain people to see if she can be the average of those.
There is also a lot going on in her life that makes her want to do this.’

Postcript is published in paperback on 1st October.

Postscript pic

#BookReview by Lou of #NewBook – Just Like You by Nick Hornby @nickhornby @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks

Just Like You
By Nick Hornby
Rated: 5 stars *****

Excellent observations and a whole mix of life, romance and politics and everything you would expect from Nick Hornby within his fabulously astute writing style. It’s all brought together to make a great story in Just Like You, with relatable characters.

Thank you very much to the publicist at Viking Books for allowing me to review Just Like You.

Blurb

Lucy married just the sort of man you might expect: a university graduate who runs his own business. Unfortunately he turned out to have serious dependency issues.

Joseph is shaking off the memory of his last date, a girl who ticked all the right boxes and also drove him up the wall.

On an average Saturday morning in a butcher’s shop in North London, Lucy and Joseph meet on opposite sides of the counter. She is a teacher and mother of two, with a past she is trying to forget; he is an aspiring DJ with a wide-open future that maybe needs to start becoming more focused. Lucy and Joseph are opposites in almost all ways. Can something life-changing grow from uncommon ground?

Nick Hornby’s brilliantly observed, tender and brutally funny new novel gets to the heart of what it means to fall headlong in love with the best possible person – someone who may not be just like you at all.

Review

What an opening paragraph!!! It’s powerful, enigmatic and thought-provoking, all with one question that is posed in Spring 2016.

Lucy and Emma are characters so many women will be able to relate to as they talk about things you only would with a best friend. Lucy is on the look out for a man, encouraged by Emma. Written down, the list of attributes and desires in someone in the male species of humans, is so funny! True and to the point, but full of wit, when it’s actually in written. The atmosphere is jovial to begin with and gets deeper as the book progresses, whilst the writing shows Nick Hornby has observed people very well and all is written so naturally, in a way that these people could be within your own street.

It’s an interesting observational book that takes readers into the world of blind dating and society quirks of schooling and the private and comprehensive systems, that Nick Hornby gets spot-on. 

There’s also a comprehensive look into society when it comes to attitudes of sport and race through the butcher – Joseph and his dad and other events that have happened politically. At the heart of it all however, is a moving and deep romance that also covers a considerable age-gap, which I feel works well is quite refreshing to read about, since this is a book that covers a lot of what is happening in the world and has very nicely also not shied away from this too.

Moving back to the dating. there’s also the conversation within the book that consist of how people view each other about who is dating who, in terms of skin colour and the way words are phrased. It’s a deep story. Somehow, I expected it to be a romance with deep undertones. It’s such an emotional book with plenty of humour. It’s also about how you think a person is very similar to you would be the one, without a doubt, and yet, it doesn’t always work out like that and sometimes complete opposites really do attract and shows very honestly that all is not always simple when it comes to that tug of the heart-strings. It has a solid realistic story of romance, not one that’s so unachievable and yet desireable all the same like in the movies, but romance that isn’t always so perfect and this is what makes it all rather compelling and so likeable and want to get to know more and more about the characters lives.

It’s written well, as there are clearly emotive points being made, but the plot of the story as a whole is rather like an honest observation of society and bravely doesn’t hold back in its astuteness.