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.

Blog Tours book reviews Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – April 2020

Collage 2020-04-30 11_38_38

I can’t believe we’re a third of the way through the year already. April has been a strange month for the world with us being in lockdown. For me, that’s meant mostly getting used to not having a quiet house during the day Monday to Friday, which is when I do a lot of my reading and blogging. I’ve also had to hand over my laptop to our eldest as his is broken so I’m restricted in my times I can write.

In terms of reading, April has been another strong month for me. I’ve read thirteen books, taken part in fifteen blog tours, two cover reveals, one readalong and one buddy read. So here is what I’ve read this month:

  1. Mine by Clare Empson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Strangers by C.L. Taylor ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Philosopher’s Daughters by Alison Booth ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. All In Her Head by Nikki Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton ⭐⭐⭐.5
  7. The Switch by Beth O’Leary ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. I Am Dust by Louise Beech ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. What’s Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  11. The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The House Guest by Mark Edwards ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. So Many Lies by Paul J. Teague ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can read the synopsis and reviews for what I’ve read this month by clicking on the links above except for The House Guest, which will be reviewed next month.

So many great books means it’s hard to choose a favourite. And this month it was almost impossible. I loved Hamnet and was sure nothing would top that; until I read the breathtaking debut novel, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours. I still think about that book many times each day and am constantly recommending everyone read it. So if you haven’t yet bought a copy you can use the links in my review to do it now! Other books I feel deserve a shout out are the fantastic thrillers Strangers and All In Her Head, the heartwarming and uplifting The Switch, and the brilliantly sinister I Am Dust. Each of these were also contenders for my book of the month.

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted copies of the books and the blog tour organisers for all their hard work.

What have you read this month and what was your favourite? Comment below.

Blog Tours book reviews

What’s Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Published: April 21st, 2020
Publisher: W&N
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Literary Fiction

I am thrilled to be opening the blog tour today for this spectacular debut novel. Thank you to Anne from Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to W&N for the gifted copy of the book.


A gripping debut set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime, What’s Left of Me Is Yours follows a young woman’s search for the truth about her mother’s life – and her murder.

In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the wakaresaseya (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings.

When Sato hires Kaitaro, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Sato has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitaro’s job is to do exactly that – until he does it too well.

While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitaro fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter Sumiko’s life.

Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, What’s Left of Me Is Yours explores the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.


“I realised that of all the lies we are told, the very best ones are close to the truth.” 

Do you ever find yourself deliberately slowing down your reading speed so you can savour a book and make it last? That’s what I found myself doing with this novel; feeling the need to soak it all in and appreciate the sheer beauty within its pages. 

Sumiko Sarashima was raised by her grandfather, Yoshi, following her mother’s death when she was just seven years old. She’s always believed that she died in a car accident, but then a phone call from the Ministry of Justice rocks her world – her mother was murdered. Her grandfather has lied her whole life and everything she knows about her mother and herself is an illusion. Sumiko embarks on a quest for the truth, battling the strict and rather antiquated Japanese laws to slowly unravel the mystery of her mother’s death and to find out who she really was.  

What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is, quite simply, a masterpiece. Compelling, evocative, atmospheric and affecting, this is a book you need to read. Themes of truth and justice are woven throughout the story as it reveals the seedy, shadowy underbelly of Japanese law and the devastating long-term effects on its citizens. But at the heart of it is a story about love and the lengths some will go to in the name of it. A tragic story of a family torn apart by love, resentment, secrets and lies, the author explores the long-term effects of grief and learning your life was an illusion. 

Stephanie Scott is an extraordinary new talent. I fell under her spell within the first few pages as the poetic prose tells the story with beauty and fluency. Flawlessly crafted, it has a calm, graceful pace that builds to a tense and shocking climax. One of my favourite aspects of this novel is the fascinating and eye-opening insights into the Japanese beliefs, way of life, laws and culture. I was charmed by things such as the traditional way Sumiko’s name is chosen and shocked at how harsh and austere their laws were and how little rights their citizens have in circumstances such as divorce and as victims of a crime. The work that has gone into this book: the detail and research, jumps from the pages, as does the stunning Japanese landscape that is portrayed with a rich, vivid imagery that transported me to a place I’ve never been and made me feel like I was seeing it right in front of me.

The story is told through a variety of voices: young and old, men and women, that are sensitively and expertly written; each voice is distinct, offering a unique perspective. Sumiko is the only narrator in the present day, the others giving their voices to flashbacks that slowly tell the story of events leading up to, and immediately following, Rina’s death. I loved Sumiko and Rina. Sumiko is a strong woman who knows where she’s going in life until the phone call forces her to reassess everything and begin a journey of self-discovery and being forced to begin the grieving process for her mother all over again. Rina was a character full of so much joy and so many plans for the future. It tore me apart reading it knowing she was living her final months and all that she would live to never see. 

The catalyst for Rina’s tragic death is her love affair with Kaitaro. Their story is beautifully written, a meeting of two souls finding true love, but it is also complex, with so much hidden beneath the surface that casts a shadow over their happiness, unbeknown to Rina. I could not fathom how they would get to a place where he took her life and was convinced he was innocent for so long. 

An absolute tour de force, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is a lyrical, immersive, thought-provoking, dark and breathtaking debut. Everyone needs to read this book and I will be telling everyone I know, and even those I don’t to read it.  BUY IT NOW!

Stephanie Scott Author Pic


Stephanie Scott is a Singaporean and British writer who was born and raised in South East Asia. She read English Literature at the Universities of York and Cambridge and holds an M.St in Creative Writing from Oxford University.




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