What I’ve Been Reading… The Bumper Catch-Up Edition {contains affiliate links}

Did anyone else, when we entered our first Covid lockdown, promise themselves that they were going to use the time wisely, only to find themselves binge-watching the entire Netflix catalogue, or was that just me??

I had such grand plans for achieving All The Things in the time we had at home, one of those things being ticking off more of my reading list (which grows longer by the day), but the reality was that I read less than I did in a non-locked-down world as I soon came to realise that my train commute to and from work is where I find that precious uninterrupted time to lose myself in a good book.

So, rather than tell you about what I did(n’t) manage to read during the past few months, I thought I’d kickstart my book focussed posts by telling you about the books I’ve read this year and have absolutely loved – hopefully you’ll find something in there that takes your fancy too!

For anyone interested, I’ve started an Instagram Book Club and would love you to come and join if you fancy it! It’s free, low-pressure (one book each month) and is just a fun place for us to have a good natter about the latest title – a little bookish community that I hope will be a lot of fun! December’s book is The Holiday by TM Logan. You can find it on my Amazon Shopfront here (FYI, if you buy a book via my shopfront it uses affiliate links so I make a teeny tiny commission – honestly, it’s miniscule – but I just want to be fully transparent with you all, as always! You can read more about that here if you’re interested)

So, without further ado, here are my best reads of the year so far!

Rebecca by Dame Daphne du Maurier

This book was given to me for my birthday by my best friend of 15 years as it’s her favourite book ever and she wanted me to have it. I had no idea what it was about before I started reading it, but within the first few pages I was absolutely entranced by it. A story of love, death, lies and jealousy, all set in an incredible mansion in the British countryside in what I think to be the early 1900s, but completely timeless in the way it’s been written. It was only as I got towards the end of the book that I realised we are never told the name of the main character, and for me that somehow makes it all the more magical. A new favourite book of mine, everybody needs to read this!

The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy

Following the story of Harriet in modern day Paris and her grandmother, Claire, in the very same place during the war, this story walks us through Harriet’s discovery of everything that happened to Claire and how that has affected her own life throughout the years as a result.

I think this is the book that made me feel the most out of all the books I’ve read this year – it is absolutely beautiful and moved me almost to tears at some points as it tells the story of life, love and friendship during the war and Nazi Occupation. The pain, loss and strength of those who were captured is told so respectfully and the characters all felt so real, with their own pain and heartache feeling like it was jumping right off the page and into mer. You have to read this, it’s incredible.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

I couldn’t get enough of this book and was absolutely gutted when it was finished! A tale of lost love, starting again and long-lost skeletons returning from the closet they had been firmly locked in, all with a potential serial killer lurking in the background.

I honestly couldn’t wait for my commute to and from work each day so I could read more of this and I’ve told everyone and anyone that will listen that they have to read this – so: YOU NEED TO READ IT!

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I had seen this mentioned online by so many book bloggers who loved it and I thought the storyline was so unique and quirky that I had to read it too! Following the story of two people who share a one-bedroom flat; one sleeping in the bed during the day, one sleeping there during the night and agreeing they would never be home at the same time, meaning they never met each other and only communicated by notes left each other. Despite this they offer real friendship and support to each other as they go through their own respective life dramas, and we see this blossom throughout the pages. This is a real heart-warming light read that felt like a breath of fresh air in those early lockdown days when everything felt so uncertain.

The Curious Case of Faith and Grace by David B Lyons

I ended up downloading this after my mum tagged me in a Facebook ad about it twice (she didn’t remember doing it the first time) and, honestly, I’m so glad she did because I really enjoyed it! Telling us the tale of Faith and Grace, two young twin girls who are suspected of – and charged with – the murder of their parents, this book leads you on a trail of evidence and investigation as the truth is sought. Really well written, I couldn’t wait to settle down each day and read the next bit!

Playdate by Alex Dahl

I loved this book! A child goes for a playdate with her new school friend, but when he mum goes to pick her up she finds the house is empty – it was an AirBnB rental and the temporary tenants have left, taking her daughter with them. I thought the whole concept of this story was so clever, I honestly didn’t know what to think half the time I was reading it and it kept me hooked from page to page. A true thriller that I think would translate really well onto TV or film!

My Daddy Is A Hero by Lena Dehally

This is one for those of us interested in true crime – an absolutely heart-breaking but brilliantly researched and written account of the murders of Shanann, Bella, Cece and Nico Watts. One of the most shocking familial multiple murders in living memory, this book gives you an insight that wasn’t to be found in documentaries or newspaper articles. It does contain upsetting details though, so I recommend caution if you feel it may upset you.

Life In Pieces by Dawn O’Porter

I’ve been a fan of Dawn’s for such a long time (she was my journo of choice when I was in my early 20s) and every time she brings out a new book I’m there right away to get my hands on a copy. Life in Pieces is different from her previous offerings, being a real life diary-style account of her experience of 2020, encompassing lockdown, politics in America (where she now lives) and the death of one of her best friends (the lovely Caroline Flack), as well as the more everyday happenings like potty-training, home-schooling, opossums and bees in her garden, and the panic of not being able to find any limes for her margaritas. My favourite thing about Dawn – and what has made me stick with her for the past 13 years – is how real she is and the honesty she always approaches the world with. She’s the kind of woman that you just want to be best mates with! (Dawn, if you’re reading this, please be my friend, thanks very much).

And there we have it, my top reads of 2020 so far! My plan going forward is to write monthly “What I’ve Been Reading” updates as I know people love a good book recommendation (I do anyway!) so I thought they might be useful to some of you. Let me know if you go ahead and get hold of any of the books I’ve spoken about today, and let me know what you think of them once you’ve finished them – I love a good chat about books!

PS. Don’t forget to join @OurInstaBookClub!

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