Books I Read In 2020

Book Review Into The Water by Paula Hawkins Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel The Holiday by T.M Logan The Need by Helen Philips A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard


Reading has always been a passion of mine. Since a very young age I was reading independently and disappearing into worlds of fantasy and wonder. Books were an escape from my sometimes scary, often confusing reality. As I got older I began to read less, not because I didn't want to, it was more that as I got older, life got fuller and things such as 'self care' and reading for pleasure took a back seat. One positive of the Coronavirus pandemic is that it allowed me to prioritise myself a little bit more and perhaps I needed to escape reality again. I've spent the last six months reading a few chapters before going to sleep and it has been so beneficial. When I read I sleep better, feel more relaxed and have something to get excited about. Nothing beats going to bed on 'new book day'. The joy of perusing my virtual collection and choosing a new adventure is so exciting. My enthusiasm also leads me to talk more. Seems silly but I find talking about books to be therapeutic. If i'm struggling with my mood you can ask me what i'm reading and i'll instantly come alive. It's been a real pleasure rediscovering my love of reading and I wanted to share with you the books I've discovered throughout 2020.

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins 4/5

I really enjoyed The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins so thought I'd try something else by her. I preferred Into The Water as it was less predictable and kept me guessing until the end. The story focuses on a mysterious body of water renowned for it's association with death and disappearance. The reader explores the various characters within the close knit community to figure out 'whodunnit' but as the story unfolds more and more questions are raised. 

I had so many different theories as I read this book and none of the twists and turns were predictable. It lulled in parts but soon picked up the pace again. I found it to be a really enjoyable, engaging read.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 5/5

This book has one of the strongest starts I've ever read, even more so in the current climate. I was gripped from the outset. It's uncomfortable and a little scary but it draws you in perfectly.

The story follows several people, unknowingly intertwined, as they face the end of the modern world. It explores the concept of humanity, what makes us who we are and what makes us behave as we do but it does it in a subtle way. It makes you contemplate your life and how you would cope with the end of the world. It has just the right balance of science fiction to create a near on perfect apocalyptic tale. 

The Holiday by T.M Logan 5/5

I loved this book. A murder mystery that two thirds of the way through has yet to refer to a murder!?! It's  really clever book full of twists and turns. I didn't anticipate any of it and it kept me guessing all the way through.

The key narrator is a woman in emotional turmoil. The character is so well written I was amazed it was written by a man as the female lead was so authentic and believable. I loved it so much I've already sourced more books by the same author.

The Need by Helen Philips 3/5

The first few chapters scared the living daylights out of me! Double checking shadows, jumping at noises, it really put me on edge and even now, months after finishing it I still think about it and scare myself. A few chapters in and the horror subsides and the books more reflective side comes through.

It's essentially a book about what it means to be a mother, the lengths a mother would go to and the 'village' that they say helps to raise a child. I found it very relatable even with the science fiction element involved. It definitely got me contemplating my own role as a mother and debating what I would do in similar circumstances.

The one thing I didn't like was the end. The story felt a little drawn out then ended abruptly and unclearly. It certainly leaves things open to interpretation but I would have preferred a more solid ending in this case.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 5/5

I held it together until the final line and then I sobbed. This is a beautifully tragic story about a boy, his mother and a very real monster. I knew it was going to be moving but I didn't anticipate that it would actually make me cry. It's the sort of book that stays with you long beyond the final page. A word of warning though- if you've recently lost someone or you have grief that is still very raw it maybe be best to stay away from this one for a while.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey 5/5

A previously unknown infection sweeps across the globe. Society as we know it is decimated. It seems children are less severely impacted by the illness, they mysteriously seem to have partial immunity. Dystopian fiction or current events? It's getting increasingly hard to tell.

This is a brilliant book. A well thought out plot with characters so easy to relate to. It's heartbreaking in places and the ending is so bittersweet. It has echoes of current events but is distant enough to enjoy as apocalyptic fiction. I'm actively going to seek out the film as I think it would be well worth watching- something that's surprised me as I'm definitely in the 'the book is better than the film' category.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris 5/5 

It feels wrong to say I enjoyed this book due to it being true story but I found it to be a genuinely enjoyable read. It recounted the pain and suffering of those in Auschwitz but it did so whilst simultaneously showing the fighting spirit of humanity. It remained dignified whilst still portraying the horror. I was uplifted by the main characters determination to survive.

As it's a story rather than a survivors tale it was easy to get lost in the human connections and the blossoming romance, it made it more comfortable to read. In contrast the documentation and authors input at the end of the novel brings some much needed reality and reminds you that these events happened to real, verifiable people. It's a must read book and I headed straight onto the sequel.

Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris 2/5

This book was a real struggle and quite a disappointing sequel. Though I was keen to find out what happened to Cilka and I enjoyed discovering about the Gulags and was genuinely shocked at how some Auschwitz captives faced even more adversity beyond the concentration camps the story felt very repetitive and the romance felt fictional and unrealistic compared to that of Lale and Gita in the prequel.

I think you can tell this book is an amalgamation of survivors tales rather than a specific person;s story like in The Tattooist of Auschwitz and I think this book suffers because of it. Overall I was sadly unimpressed.

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard 5/5

A book within a book. A very interesting format that tells the tale of serial killer, The Nothing Man and the sole survivor of his attacks Eve Black. We read the story from The Nothing Man's perspective as he reads Eve Black's book recounting the night she survived the attack so you get both viewpoints. It sounds complicated but it's very easy to follow.

It's a dark, chilling book that doesn't shy away from details. It gave me the creeps and made me check under the bed! It's got a few twists and turns, some a little predictable but that didn't take away from how gripping I found the story.

This is probably one of the best books I read throughout 2020. It was so well written that I kept forgetting it wasn't a true story and I wasn't reading a true survivors account. I will definitely be looking out for more by the same author. 

I've really enjoyed getting back into reading and i'd love for you to share any suggestions for books to read in 2021 and if you've written a post for the books you've read throughout the last year then let me know, I'd love to read it.

I publish full reviews after each book under the Books category and I write mini reviews on my Instagram as I finish a book so why not follow my 2021 reading journey over there.

Thanks For Reading,


 Do you love to read? Is there a must have book that you can't wait to share? Why not link your blog review posts up to my Books We've Been Reading blog link up? 


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6 comments:

  1. Sounds like you have read a fantastic selection of books recently. I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz last year also and really enjoyed it for the same reasons you described. The final passage from the son had me absolutely sobbing. I'm yet to read Cilka's Journey - once the pandemic hit I needed more light hearted reads, but it is on my list. I recommend The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes if you are looking for something else to read :) #KCACOLS

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  2. Like yourself I haven't had the time to read books in quite a while. However, after reading your book list I will be reading the girl on the train asap xx #KCACOLS

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  3. I rarely find time to read books these days, but I used to love reading (from a very early age, just like you). I like murder mysteries, so 'The Holiday' sounds particularly appealing to me, in your selection above x #KCACOLS

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  4. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is on my list of books to read.

    I didn't realise Paula Hawkins had written other books - I'll have to add that to my list too!!

    #KCACOLS

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  5. There's a couple of books that are right up my street! Thank you for sharing and linking up with us for #KCACOLS

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  6. There are some great sounding books here. I really need to follow your advice and start reading in bed each night. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

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Thank you for supporting me on my journey to raise awareness about mothers on the autistic spectrum. We do exist, we just need people to know we do!

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