Monday, 21 December 2020

My 2020 Reading Challenge - Update #5

Books marked * were either sent via Netgalley to review or as PR sample but all views are my own

 Finally, it's time for my last reading update of the year! Kinda scary to think we're already at the end of 2020. Throughout the year I've been updating you on how I've been getting on with my goal of reading 100 books in 2020 and whilst at times I didn't think I'd do it, I've just finished book 102! It's not been too long since I last shared a reading update but if you're new to my blog, I basically share a little review of each book I've read every few months and I personally find it's a nice way to look back at the end of the year when I choose my five favourites and it hopefully give you some recommendations too! So, I better get started. Here are the books I've read in the run up to Christmas.Stack of books held up in front of a bookshelf

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh - ⭐⭐⭐ 

I was so excited to read this after seeing so much about it online but it did also make me worry that I'd go into it with too high expectations! I was so intrigued by the story, two sisters both blaming one another for their fathers murder and I found myself going back and forth constantly over who I believed. I was also really intrigued by Eddie, one of the sister's lawyers. I'm not usually a big fan of crime fiction and I can't say that this has made me want to read much more of it but there's no denying this is brilliantly written and such a fascinating premise.

The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt* - ⭐⭐ 

I shared a review of this book once I'd read it so I won't go into it too much but on the whole, I enjoyed it. It's the first LGBT book I've read and I really enjoyed finding out more about Sophie and Nora's past relationship whilst hoping they'd end up together all the years later. It did take me quite a while to get into it though and I can't say I loved the majority of the characters.

The Split by Sharon Bolton* - ⭐⭐ 

I was a little disappointed with this. It had some really tense moments throughout and I genuinely did not have a clue what this was going to be about or where it was going to go but I just found it so hard to picture anything that was happening. It was SO different to any book I've read and just felt really overcomplicated at times.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

I absolutely loved this. I needed a really good romance and this was exactly that. Very much like One Day In December, it had a cosy festive feel to it at times, it had so many likeable characters and I just adored Minnie and Quinn, I felt the chemistry between them and rooted for them right from the very first moment they met. I'd love to see this as a film one day.This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens held up in front of Christmas tree

The Silent House by Nell Pattison - ⭐⭐ 

I had been waiting to read The Silent House for SO long. I went into it with high hopes. It's a story about a deaf family waking up to find their young daughter has been murdered in the night so I expected it to be very morbid and uncomfortable to read at times. I was just generally disappointed with it though to be honest. It never felt that tense, I thought it was quite predictable from the start who could and couldn't be trusted and nothing ever really wowed me throughout.

Pretending by Holly Bourne - ⭐⭐⭐ 

I never know quite how to feel about books by Holly Bourne. I have enjoyed the ones I've read so far and there's no denying Pretending is brilliantly written and focuses on some major topics for women but I can't say that I loved it. I'm not even particularly sure why, I feel really mixed about it.

All I Want For Christmas by Joanna Bolouri* - ⭐⭐⭐ 

This was the perfect Christmas read! A really fun, light-hearted book with so many funny moments throughout. Full of likeable characters that felt very believable and I really enjoyed that it was all Nick's perspective throughout, offering a male's point of view in a romance which often doesn't happen.

Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

As soon as it was announced Stephanie Meyer had finally written Twilight from Edward's perspective, I knew I was going to have to get my hands on it. I realllllllyyyy enjoyed reading this and I loved being able to know how Edward was feeling as up until now we've only ever had Bella's point of view. That being said I do think I'd have loved it more had I been about 14 or 15 again. I'll always love the Twilight books and films (in fact I went and watched the films again after reading this) but it's definitely not quite the same at 25 as it was when I was a teenager. 

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
I've seen so many people rave about this for years and just after starting Bear's Brownies & More, I thought it was finally the right time to get the book for myself. I've become really interested in the law of attraction and manifestation this year so I think I went into it with the right mindset and therefore really liked what I was reading. I can see why it might not be for everyone and there were some sections I felt a bit unsure about but generally it made me feel so good after reading it every time I picked it up. I found I was in a far more positive mindset, I felt so much more motivated and I genuinely think it's part of why Bear's Brownies has done as well as it has since I launched. Maybe that's crazy but I personally feel I've been putting positivity 'out there' into the universe and it's been rewarding me. It might not be for everyone but I know I'll be going back to this time and time again.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell - ⭐⭐⭐ 
I Found You was a classic Lisa Jewell book, a really intriguing story that gives very little away at the beginning, fresh characters that you genuinely care for and short and snappy chapters making it a breeze to read through. It's not my favourite of Lisa's though.  I Found You by Lisa Jewell book held up in front of bookshelf

The Prison Doctor: Women Inside by Dr Amanda Brown - ⭐⭐⭐ 
I read The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown last year but had no idea there was a follow up book until recently. As I enjoyed the first book so much, I was really excited to find out more about Amanda's work in Bronzefield Prison but whilst reading this, it just felt a bit flat. It was nice to get a bit more background about Amanda's life but a lot of the stories of the prisoners were the same and by the end I just thought was another book needed? 

Anatomy Of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan - ⭐⭐⭐ 
I'm really not sure what to say about this! It felt very current since the MeToo movement given it focuses on allegations of sexual harassment and men in power abusing their position and I was definitely intrigued from the very first chapter because of that. I thought one of the twists, though a little predictable was excellent. The ending felt quite rushed but I'm excited to see the Netflix adaptation with Michelle Dockery and Sienna Miller.

The Push by Ashley Audrain* - ⭐⭐⭐ 
Where to even start with this? The Push grabs you at the very first chapter and doesn't let go. I flew through it! I absolutely loved how short and snappy the chapters were and because of that I felt so invested in the story. I'll be sharing a review of this in January so don't want to give too much away but I thought it was such a thought-provoking look at Motherhood and the relationship between a mother and a daughter.

Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft* -  
A really heartwarming read. I loved getting to know Hannah and Nico and I loved that Sue has touched on some tough subjects throughout, eating disorders and addiction to mention a few. It didn't feel particularly festive though.

Two Wrongs by Rebecca Reid* -  
I absolutely loved Rebecca's last book, Truth Hurts so I was so excited to read Two Wrongs. This was quite a slow burn at the start but at one point it seemed to really step up a gear and things got far more interesting. I was really intrigued by all of the characters and I couldn't have predicted the ending but I do think I prefer Truth Hurts over this. 

The Open House by Sam Carrington* -  
I definitely feel I'm in the minority with not loving The Open House. It's got great reviews on Netgalley but it just wasn't for me. At the time of reading this I felt I was being particularly picky with books so maybe that's why! It seemed to takes ages to pick up the pace and by the time it did, we were near the end and it all started to feel rushed. I didn't like ANY of the characters and just found it all overly confusing at times.

Last Christmas by Greg Wise & Emma Thompson - 
I was quite disappointed with this to be honest. Last Christmas features stories from a range of people from those working in soup kitchens in Covent Garden to actors and celebrities like Meryl Streep, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman and Richard Ayoade. Each person shares what Christmas means to them and whilst I liked each essay being so different from the other, it kind of left me feeling a bit sad by the end! It definitely made me realise how lucky a lot of us are compared to some but I didn't find it to be the uplifting read it's sold to be! Emilia Clarke's story in particular about the last christmas with her dad was my favourite though.

The First Time We Met by Jo Lovett - ⭐⭐⭐ 
Ahh I absolutely adored Izzy and Sam. This was just the book I needed in the run upto Christmas. Full of charm, incredibly heartwarming and some of the loveliest characters in a book I've read for a long time. The story is very much along the lines of books like One Day In December so if you like a festive romance like that, you'll love this.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss - ⭐⭐ 
I can't say this felt this was particularly festive despite it's title but it is a lovely romance you can get lost in. It didn't wow me but it had some lovely moments throughout and I liked the characters.The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss held up in front of Christmas tree

The Other Daughter by Shalini Boland -  
I thought this was so predictable. From the first few chapters I kind of guessed where it could go so towards the end when what I expected to happen, happened, it wasn't a real shock. It had some good moments throughout and it was definitely tense in parts but nothing really stood out to me as a wow moment.

Life in Pieces by Dawn O'Porter - 
I usually really enjoy anything by Dawn O'Porter and whilst this is different from her other books as it's more of a diary entry than anything, as it was only 99p on Kindle I thought I might aswell give it a read. There were some moments throughout that I could relate to given we've all been in and out of lockdown this year and it's been hard for everyone no matter what our circumstances. There were funny moments and there were sad moments too, particularly whenever Dawn spoke about her late friend Caroline and I really felt like I got to know her a little bit. I can't say I LOVED it but I'm glad I read it.

Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews - 

I always tend to enjoy something by Carole Matthews. Whilst this isn't your typical Christmas romance, I still really liked it. It's not my favourite of Carole's and it's definitely a little unique in where the story goes but it's nice to have another book of hers ticked off my list.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling - 
I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, I watch the films every year around Christmas but whilst I remember reading some of the books when I was younger, it had been a long time so I thought it was about time I start them all again. It was so nice to get a bit more detail in certain parts that we don't get given in the films and it really did give me that magical feeling. 

So, that's my final reading update of 2020! I'd love to know if you've read any of these books and what your thoughts are too. I'm signing off now for Christmas and will be back in the New Year. I know under the circumstances it's probably not going to be the Christmas any of us hoped for or we're planning but I hope it's still special for all of you regardless. Fingers crossed for a much better year in 2021!

Merry Christmas xx

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Beautylymin said...

Wow, well done! 100 books is no mean feat! I love The Secret - I first read it around 10/11 years ago and it's one of those you can always refer back to x

beautyqueenuk said...

Wow that’s some feat! I’m two books off my goal and have Midnight Sun waiting to be read!

Heather Nixon said...

I haven’t read these - I’ve been in such a reading slump recently x

Kelly~Diane said...

Congratulations on achieving your reading goal. I haven't read any of these books but there are few that I like the sound of.

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