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Year In Review

My 20 Favourites of 2020

I can’t quite believe that 2020 is over! It’s been a strange year and I think we’re all hoping that 2021 brings better things and that we can soon get back to a new normal.

It was my second full year of blogging and once again I read more than I had even hoped to. I had set my Goodreads challenge at 120 and managed to read 177. That’s 27 more than in 2019.

As you can probably imagine, reading so many books made putting together my favourite twenty books of the year a difficult task. That last spot in particular had four other books that I really wanted to include and it was a real struggle to know which should make the final spot.

Here is my list in the order that I read the books:

  1. Firewatching by Russ Thomas
  2. The Foundling by Stacey Halls
  3. Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  5. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  6. What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
  8. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
  9. The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith
  10. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  11. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  12. All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
  13. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  14. Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons
  15. The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
  16. The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby
  17. The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  18. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn
  19. The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
  20. The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Out of the final twenty, sixteen are by new to me authors, nine of them debuts. I found that 2020 was a strong year in terms of fantastic debuts, with others such as The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, Pine, The Memory Wood, The Wreckage, The Holdout, If I Can’t Have You, Dear Child, The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon, Shiver, The Push and The Thursday Murder Club standing out in particular.

So what almost made it? Contenders for this list included Three Hours, Pine, The Memory Wood, In Five Years, The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, If I Could Say Goodbye, The Push, Strangers, Dear Child, The Ice Cream Girls, All My Lies Are True and The Thursday Murder Club.

My favourite book of the year was not a difficult choice. Though there were many that were good enough to take the title, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is the standout book of the year for me. I can honestly say that I’ve thought about this stunning debut every day since I read it in April. Do yourself a favour and read it if you haven’t already. I’m just hoping it’s not too long before I can read another book by the talented Stephanie Scott.

Did we have any of the same favourites? What was your book of the year? Let me know in the comments.

Keep an eye out for a post tomorrow with the top 20 lists of some other bloggers and which 2020 book we recommend most of all.

*Thank you to the tagged publishers for my #gifted ARCs.

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Domestic Fiction

I read this book as part of a readalong with One More Chapter. Thank you to Claire for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.

But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?

A heartfelt story of life, death, friendship and family perfect for fans of Gail Honeyman

MY REVIEW:

“This is her decision. The ending to her story.”

Gloriously uplifting, this was a balm for my soul. It wrapped itself around me like a warm hug and was exactly the read I needed. 

The characters in this book are truly special. I instantly loved Eudora. Fiercely slightly cantankerous, she has a strength that is evident from the start. She prefers her own company and keeps interaction with others to the bare minimum, despairing of the selfishness of modern society. But behind her spiky facade, there’s a warmth to her that she can’t conceal. She was a fabulous character that I fell completely in love with and will stay in my heart forever.

“She isn’t used to having such a force of nature in her life. This little girl is like a grenade full of joie de vive and Eudora has no idea why she has been chosen as a friend.”

The trio of Eudora, Stanley and Rose was sheer perfection. I loved how Stanley and Rose brought out Eudora’s softer side and how they complemented each other, creating a truly special friendship. And I think everyone could use a Rose in their life.

“The older she gets, the more redundant she feels. It’s as if her life is a long corridor lined with different doors leading to activities past and present. In her youth, she could enter through any number of these doors… Now, most of the doors are marked with strict ‘no entry’ signs… It’s not the end of the world but it’s a shrunken world, which makes her feel a lot less useful.”

But this is more than a cosy read. There’s a depth to this book that the author expertly weaves in amongst the tenderness, joy, humour and heartache. She touches on the harsh truths of aging and how our society treats the older generation, highlighting in particular their isolation and pain. But it is her exploration of the subject of death, and in particular if a person should have the right to choose how and when they die, that is the most powerful part of this story.

“If I can have the choice of how I live my own life, why can’t I choose how to die my own death?”

The author tackles this emotive and controversial subject with honesty, sensitivity and humour, helping the reader to see why someone might want to choose to die without being terminally ill or depressed. She also touches on our fear of death as a society, and questions if thinking any life is better than none at all, showing us how it really feels to be isolated, infirm, living with pain or dementia and asks if those people should be part of the conversation rather than just legislators. 

This is one of those books that will take you through every emotion, but I dare you to try and read it without a smile on your face. Joyous, heartwarming, poignant and thought-provoking, this spectacular novel is a contender for my book of the year. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Just have tissue at the ready and be prepared to fall in love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

After a career in bookselling and publishing, Annie Lyons published five books including the best-selling, Not Quite Perfect. When not working on her novels, she teaches creative writing. She lives in south-east London with her husband and two children.

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