My favourite reads of 2020:
1. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
What Lies Between Us is a truly addictive read that left me wide-mouthed in shock after every chapter, and that tension doesn’t stop until the very last page.
I went into this book knowing nothing about it. I hadn’t even read the synopsis, only seeing that it was getting great reviews. And I’m so glad that I did it that way. The synopsis doesn’t give away too much, but without knowing about Maggie and Nina’s relationship or the situation they are both in, there were so many shocks early on for me.
2. After The End by Clare Mackintosh
An emotional exploration of the bonds in marriage and parenthood, After The End is a powerful and heart-wrenching story about the different paths a vital decision can lead us on in life.
Clare Mackintosh explores the story beautifully, using her own painful experiences to shape a narrative about one of the worst situations two parents can find themselves in. It’s almost impossible to read it and not think “What would I do in this situation?”. But it was a question I didn’t want to give any more thought than that. I read the whole book with my hand on my heart and felt every ache of regret, hope, and devastation that these characters were faced with.
3. Blindsighted (Grant County #1) by Karin Slaughter
I’ve read a few of Karin Slaughter’s books before, two from her Grant County/Will Trent series and a few of her standalone books, and she instantly became one of my favourite authors. So, I decided to start at the beginning with the first book in her Grant County series, Blindsighted.
Having already gotten to know Sara, Jeffrey and Lena a little, it was great to read about how these characters came into being. And because of Slaughter’s excellent narrative, I already felt familiar with the town and the people who live there. Her characters are so well-crafted and her settings are so well described that I instantly felt at home with them, with her books having such a good continuity that the years between each story is made to feel seamless. Still, it was great to see where her series began, and it’s been a fantastic journey to see how certain relationships started off and how certain conflicts were set in motion.
4. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Rich in detail in both setting and character development, The Guest List is a tense, atmospheric, and engaging thriller that’s slow-burn will leave you open-mouthed in shock. Like the guests, you are completely left in the dark until the book’s explosive ending. There’s no guessing who’s done it this time; first, you have to guess who’s body has been found. Is it a murder committed out of vengeance? Or has somebody succeeded in keeping their secret in their past? There are so many twists in this exhilarating thriller that it is certainly one that will be hard to top this year.
Told in short chapters through four alternating narrations – The Bride, The Bridesmaid, The Plus One, and The Best Man – the story comes together through lavish character descriptions and in-depth details that lead up to the event of the big day. I don’t normally like reading a book with too many points of view, but Foley uses this narrative technique impeccably well. Every narrator stands out on their own, so there’s no confusion over who said what or in regards to their interlinking relationships with the other guests.
5. Circe by Madeline Miller
A beautifully written and character-driven retelling, Circe is a captivating story of womanhood that gives a distinctive voice to one of Greek mythology’s underrated heroines. With lush descriptions and a strong lead character, it’s a complex but breathtaking story that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
As a story of Greek mythology, it has everything you want from it: adventure, monsters, betrayals and magic. There are even a few twists with how the story of the fates weaves into the plot which I loved, as well as the mention of some of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and Odysseus.
6. The Housewarming by S.E. Lynes
The Housewarming is a heart-wrenching story that gripped me from start to finish, and I’ve been thinking about it for days. Incredibly well written and emotionally-driven, it’s a well-paced story with a shocking turn of events, and I highly recommend you give this one a read!
From the opening paragraphs alone, I instantly knew this was going to be a book that I loved. I related to Ava immediately. It’s tough being a mother. Like Ava, I cherish the brief moments of peace you manage to find during the day, whether it be doing a menial task or scrolling through your social media, to enjoy a few minutes of silence and take a moment to breathe. But I also know how all the while, you’re thinking about how anything can happen in those few minutes of silence, and that worry is always in the back of your mind.