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 Promises At Indigo Bay @EllynOaksmith @BOTBSPublicity @sarahhardy681

Promises At Indigo Bay
By Ellyn Oaksmith
Rated: 4 stars ****

Romantic with a twist and some gorgeous scenery sets up Promises At Indigo Bay by Ellyn Oaksmith. I am delighted to be closing this blog tour with a review.
Thanks to Sarah Hardy and Bookouture for inviting me to the blog tour and for providing a book to review from.

About the Author

Promises at Indigo Bay authorEllyn Oaksmith is the USA Today and Kindle bestselling author of the Blue Hills Series, featuring the Alvarez family.

After graduating from Smith College and attaining her MFA from The American Film Institute, Ellyn began her writing career as an award-winning screenwriter in Hollywood. Her books explore the same themes as her screenplays: grit, humor, family and love.

Ellyn lives on one of Seattle’s many hills with her husband and spends as much time as possible on the water as part of a competitive rowing team.

Ellyn Oaksmith is the USA Today and Kindle bestselling author of the Blue Hills Series, featuring the Alvarez family.

Promises at Indigo Bay cover

Blurb

Our life together meant more to me than he could possibly imagine. I just wanted another night. I thought I knew what was coming. A proposal. If only it had been that simple.

Things are finally working out for Stella Gallagher. Unlucky in love and faced with limited options in her small town, she was beginning to give up on romance altogether, until mysterious Italian Paolo Gentillo moved to Chelan…

Paolo is smart, kind, gorgeous and, most importantly, they’re completely obsessed with each other: Stella has finally found her match. Everything would be perfect, except there are things she hasn’t told Paolo—she doesn’t know how he’s going to feel about her when he finds out about her past…

So when Paolo proposes, Stella panics: it’s way too soon. She wants to be with him, but suddenly they’re talking about forever. He doesn’t even know the real her, she’s scared to face up to her secret, and she’s never felt so alone. Is the damage from her past going to threaten her chance at a perfect future?

A heart-warming story about learning to trust in yourself and the people you love, Promises at Indigo Bay will show you that it’s never too late to try for your happy ending. For fans of Robyn Carr, Carolyn Brown and Debbie Macomber. 

Promises at Indigo Bay cover

Review

Izzy at 60 years old has grown to love Pavarotti and Paolo who released her in a way from a more hemmed in life and breathed new life into her and loves her just the way she is. He also bought a boat and seems quite the adventurer and romantic. All seems most idyllic when they are out in it, but the atmosphere changes after a while when something happens in the water that later turns stormy.

There’s also Carmen, Izzy’s best friend, who she confides in and it seems all is not straightforward and feels untoward with Paolo when he proposes with the thought of deportation after a work visa runs out, looms over him. There is some humour as well when she meets his mother, but all the way through I found myself wondering what sort of relationship this all could be and if there would be any sort of happy ending or if she would leave him. There is something sinister in the relationship and perhaps some secrets, but it builds and then seems to ease off every so often, which works to a certain extent and develops some of the atmosphere. Paolo seems to have a bit of a temper about him at times and the man you think he is, is perhaps not how it is at all. It does have its intriguing moments, I felt, could be a little stronger at times, it is still a good read and moves along at a pretty good pace and with some momentary humour with gorgeous scenery and a beautiful ending.

Social Media Links:

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#Bookreview by Lou of The Winter Garden By Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @simonschusterUK

The Winter Garden By Heidi Swain Rated: 5 stars *****

The Winter Garden is a gorgeous, uplifting book by Heidi Swain that covers amazing ground within a community of people in Nightengale Square. Follow the blurb and review below to find out more. Thank you very much to Simon & Schuster for accepting my request to review.

The Winter Garden cover

Blurb

***The sparkling new Christmas novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Heidi Swain!*** Will love bloom this winter?   Freya Fuller is living her dream, working as a live-in gardener on a beautiful Suffolk estate. But when the owner dies, Freya finds herself forced out of her job and her home with nowhere to go. However, with luck on her side, she’s soon moving to Nightingale Square and helping to create a beautiful winter garden that will be open to the public in time for Christmas.   There’s a warm welcome from all in Nightingale Square, except from local artist Finn. No matter how hard the pair try, they just can’t get along, and working together to bring the winter garden to life quickly becomes a struggle for them both.   Will Freya and Finn be able to put their differences aside in time for Christmas? Or will the arrival of a face from Freya’s past send them all spiralling? The Winter Garden is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Cathy Bramley and Sarah Morgan.

The Winter Garden cover

Review

Eloise Thurlow-Forbes is an octogenarian estate owner in Broadmeadows, country estate, Suffolk and sad events kick start something new and positive in Freya Fuller’s life. It seems very apt at the moment with all that is going on in the world. Certain things in her life, she decides need to change, such as her job, where she isn’t entirely happy. There is a bit of strength of character shown in the way she works things out and speaks up about how things were. This starts off as a journey of self-discovery as Freya stumbles over local radio stations that guide her to Nightengale Square that has a community garden at Prosperous Place, a place with a history and one that is going to have a future in the fact that people have come together to do renovations. It’s a gentle way of guiding readers to where  the destination is going to be. There is then planning and plotting between Freya and Luke for turning the garden one fit for winter. Both she and Luke have some heartache in their lives and there seems to be a positivity in the book about them turning their lives around and there are elements of mental well-being within what is a gentle, cosy read as the colder months come in.

The book has stories within it of other characters and how they came to be in Nightengale Square that make a community working towards the aim of transforming the garden. It is realistic and not all plain-sailing. There are ups and downs between people and much that I think readers will be able to relate to, as they get to know each other and try to work together to meet the same goal; but tempers fray at times and romance buds amongst them. In the story, it’s as people try to create Winterfest, but the same applies for any group of people coming together trying to do something new and also discover more about themselves and each other. The book doesn’t shy away from mental health conditions and it is shown in bursts as you get to know the characters as their backgrounds are revealed. The book, however, gives a sense of positivity as the “Grow Well” group develops and all feels authentic as the story moves along in its build up to Christmas, feel-good vibe that has a lot of compassion and community throughout.  

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 The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley @MsAmeliaHenley @HQstories @RandomTTours #TheLifeWeAlmostHad

The Life We Almost Had
By Amelia Henley
Rated: 5 stars *****

Amelia Henley Banner

Romance can be beautiful and come when you least expect it, but can bring so many twists and turns. Elegantly written, this romantic fiction bring uplifting and heartwarming to despair and heartache all with a large pinch of hope and courage that is quite the page-turner as it becomes ever more absorbing and an addictive read.

Thanks to HQ Stories and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the blog tour and for providing such an elegant and gorgeous physical copy of The Life We Almost Had.
Read further for the blurb and full review.

The Life We Almost Had Cover

Blurb

This is not a typical love story, but it’s our love story.

Anna wasn’t looking for love when Adam swept her off her feet but there was no denying their connection, and she believed they would be together forever.

Years later, cracks have appeared in their relationship. Anna is questioning whether their love can really be eternal when a cruel twist of fate delivers a crushing blow, and Anna and Adam are completely lost to one another. Now, Anna needs Adam more than ever, but the way back to him has life-changing consequences.
 
Is a second chance at first love really worth the sacrifice? Anna needs to decide and time is running out…

A beautiful and emotional love story that asks, how far would you go for a second chance at first love? Perfect for fans of The Man Who Didn’t Call and Miss You.

The Life We Almost Had cover with flowers.jpg

Review

Each chapter takes readers to Anna, Adam and Oliver in this beautiful, purposeful, romantic story of life.

Anna and Adam meet in unconventional circumstances, when love strikes.
It shows in a believable, honest way how relationships can break-down, but gives a kind of hope that second chances can occur.

Ann was supposed to have gotten married, but was dumped only two weeks before and can’t help but look up her ex-fiance’s Facebook Page. Nell, her best friend, is a wise soul, who tries to help her out with this compulsion, in urging her to unfriend him and taking her mind off things in the best ways possible, until an incident, whilst swimming. It’s all written with the upmost believeability and with so much that women, who have experienced having a bad relationship experience, will be able to relate to. The water scene is also descriptive that you can totally imagine what it would be like in a difficult situation. What happens next, is when Adam comes in, being all brave and handsomely masculine, with a romantic idealism. It’s enough for even the most confident of swimmers to not mind being in challenging circumstances; not when the chivalrous Adam is about anyway.

A holiday romance that is so spontaneous that it captures and wraps you up with love as the conversation of Anna and Adam as they click together are just sublime, about life, university and the truth of not being a high flyer, which in itself is so refreshing and dreams, such as Anna wishing she was a writer and Adam wanted to travel.

It’s so incredibly heartwarming and uplifiting and Adam is sure to be the man of every woman’s dreams.

It isn’t all plain-sailing though as unknown things like the possibility of endemetriosis starts to show and so does some of the stress and tension that it can cause in a relationship. Being unable to conceive is a hard-hitting subject, that is written with such realism, but altogether with the strife, heartbreak and the romance intertwined, makes rooting for this couple easy, as the likeable groundwork to Anna’s and Adam’s personalities has already been done, earlier in the book. The way the effect of this issue affects both men and women is balanced so well and adds an understanding to the book, that endemetriosis emotionally affects both in a couple. It’s a pleasingly mature way of observing this in the writing as it would be so easy to write from just a female perspective. It is also, surprisingly thought-provoking at how couples can feel and can end up.

There’s a twist to the tale and things take a heartbreaking turn for Adam, which makes for a story of so much hope as he becomes unwell and it becomes even more of a page-turner, with a change of pace and urgency to continue.
The way scientists look at patients and the way partner’s do is highlighted well, with the contrast of the cold, hard medical experiement to push whatever boundary and the warmth, human touch of a partner who see a human-being much more. It’s strong and again, honest. This in turn, introduces Oliver Chapman and also hynotherapy for Anna.

There’s a spiralling, unravelling that appears in Anna’s and Adam’s lives in unconventional ways, that then made, my memory anyway, cast back to the swirling water near the beginning, whether it was intentional or not, it’s cleverly written. RIght to the end, it’s an enthralling book that is heartwarming and uplifting and this will sustain any reader through what becomes utter despair and heartbreaking for the characters.

It is so worth reading the utterly heartbreaking author’s note at the end to understand why this book was written and to know why there is such a sense of heartbreak within this wonderful book that covers just about every single emotion.

There are then questions for Book Clubs.

I took a read of an excerpt from the next book, I am very intrigued to see how that unfolds too as it gets off to a brilliant start.

The Life We Almost Had BT Poster