The only criteria to get into my ‘top’ books list of the year is enjoyment. I don’t take into account literary merit at all, as it’s my opinion that any book enjoyed is a great book. I’m not ashamed to say that I have no snobbishness at all about books. I love reading both classics and popular fiction. The books listed below are my favourites for 2020.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I read this book in the first few days of January, and knew immediately that I’d read the first book for 2020, that I would rate five star. This novel, is about a family bordering on crisis, who make the impulsive decision to move from city life in the USA to live their life, isolated and off the grid in Alaska. What seems like a life that couldn’t be anything but blissful, turns into a nightmare, as the family stumbled from one drama to another. I found the storyline to be gripping and unforgettable. It really did get under my skin and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I read it very quickly and would describe it as unputdownable. As I write this now, I’m remembering how I felt way back in January, when reading the book. I find it difficult to write too much about the story line without spoiling the book for future readers. All I can say is, please read this book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole by Olav Thyvoid
The following words are what drew me to this book, other than the cuter than cute dog on the front cover – “the wisest and most inspiring book on friendship ageing written by a dog, that you will ever read” How could I possibly resist a book written by a dog? Of course, I could not. Tassen, the four legged narrator of this story just wants a simple life. He loves his master, a world war 2 veteran, who dies in the first few pages. It’s not giving anything away to divulge this plot line, as it’s covered on the blurb. His master’s wife then takes over his care and that’s when things get interesting, and not always to Tassen’s liking. There are so many animal insights in this book, some comical and some sad, as he has imagined conversations with himself about what he sees around him, and what he supposes his Mum Mrs. Thorkildsen is up to, as she goes about her daily activities. Even though there is a thread of humour through the book, the story is definitely not light and superficial. As an older person, I could very much identify with the themes of ageing, death, and companionship. I found this book so funny that it made my cry with laughter. It was also sad enough to make me cry genuine tears. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Love That I have by James Moloney
Margot has left school to take up her sister’s job in the mailroom of Sachsenhousen prison camp in Germany in 1944. She is horrified when told she has to burn letters belonging to the prisoners, and starts to save some of the letters, intending to send them on to the families of the prisoners. Margot gets caught up in creating her own story around one of the prisoners. This story is about her imagination, and her real life as she finally is able to meet with Dieter who is the writer of some of the letters. This novel is a beautiful story of sadness, love, loss and heartbreak and courage. This is a World War 2 book with a difference.
A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
The summary on the blurb describes this book perfectly ” What if Elizabeth Macarthur – wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in the earliest days of Sydney – had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? And what if novelist Kate Grenville, had miraculously found and published it? That’s the starting point for A Room Made of Leaves, a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented”. I love historical fiction and especially Australian historical fiction, so I was always going to enjoy this book. I did get caught up in this novel and the imagined life story of Elizabeth Macarthur. I’m sure the story that Kate Grenville conjured up was so much more exciting than Elizabeth’s life actually was with her tiresome husband. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Collaborator by Diane Armstrong
The Collaborator is based on a remarkable true story that happened in Budapest during World War 2. Three women are linked by a secret that threatens to destroy their lives. This is a story of heroism and betrayal with a little romance thrown in. Once I was immersed into the story, I couldn’t put this book of 500 pages down, and finished it in a very short time. Another one for lovers of war history. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Macquarie by Grantlee Kieza
Another Australian historical novel that I loved. Lachlan Macquarie had a huge part of the early development of colonial Australia into what eventually became a prosperous society. This book traces his life and career from his early days in England. Macquarie was a controversial figure and still is so. There are many questions about the legacy he left behind, after his time at the top f the hierarchy in Sydney. The author uses Macquarie’s very detailed journals to build a picture of his life, and to some extent explain the reasons for taking the sometimes controversial actions that he took. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
I love audio books. I listen to them in the garden, when working, and on the long drive to work, which was 5 or 6 days every week, up until March. As I haven’t worked since March, due to the pandemic, there has been less time than usual this year for listening. But I have managed to listen to 34 books this year. I looked up last years audio books and was surprised to see that I’d listened to 52 audiobooks. The books listed below are my pick as top four audio books read during 2020. I borrow my audio books from the library app Borrowbox.
The Crazy House Series by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
There are two books in The Crazy House Series which was written for young adults. I was a little way into the story of book 1, The Crazy House before I realised this, but didn’t let it deter me from reading it, as I was loving the story. These books tell the story of seventeen year old Becca who disappears suddenly. We learn that she is thrown into a horrific prison and told not to cause trouble if she wants to survive. Her twin sister Cassie, while trying to find her, ends up in the same prison. Becca and Cassie go from one drama to another as they try their hardest to survive. In book 2, The Fall of the Crazy House, the sisters manage to escape the prison, but only just. They are now very highly trained fighters and survivalists. There is a war to be won, but the girls will need to draw on all their skills, and become what they despise, in order to win. I loved this book of fantasy and adventure and read it in record time, as I couldn’t stop listening. I never thought I would choose a James Patterson book as a highlight of the year read. This book didn’t feel like a James Patterson book at all. It had the imprint of the co-author all over it. This Crazy House series was my most loved audio book for 2020. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Matilda Saga Series BookS 1 & 2
Written by wonderful and much loved Australian author Jackie French, these books tell the story of Australia’s history from the 1890s to the 1970s. The story in the first book, A Waltz for Matilda, is woven around the iconic Austalian ballad, Waltzing Matilda, and tells the story of the young Matilda and her struggles to survive on the land as she tries to successfully build up the sheep farm that was left to her by her father. The Girl From Snowy River, book 2 in the series, uses The Banjo Patterson poem, The Man From Snowy River to tell the story of Flinty McAlpine, amazing young horsewoman who lives in the high country and faces many challenges in her life. I’d highly recommend this series as a means to learn about our history in an entertaining way. These books are marketed as being for young adult readers, but to me, they cross any age barriers. There are nine books in the series, which shows how popular they are. I’m looking forward to reading all books in the series. The covers on all books in this series, are very beautiful. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay and Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein
Sarah Krasnostein has lived an amazing life as a husband, father, drag queen, sex worker and wife. Instead of becoming deeply hurt by the traumatic life she had lived, she took the opportunity that was presented to her, to become a trauma cleaner, going into people’s houses after crimes had occurred, to clean up the mess. She looks after the houses lovingly as she brings them back to life, along with the people who have been deeply scarred. Everyone she comes across is treated with respect and love, and has no idea of the trauma that she herself has been through in her life. This is a true story that has won many awards, and could have been a really difficult book to read, but the sense of humour that comes through the writing saves it from that. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Smuggler’s Wife Series by Deborah Challinor
There are four books in this series of New Zealand and Australian Historical Fiction set in the 19th century. I loved following along with the adventures of Kitty and Rian as they make their fortune from many schemes, including trying their luck on the Victorian Goldfields. Kitty is 18 years old when we meet her and we follow her life through until she is almost 50. I loved this series. It had everything l love in a novel – history, Australian goldfields history, adventure, drama and a little romance. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
What was your favourite book of 2020? I’d love to hear about it and promise to reply to all comments.
This post is linked to Denyse’s Monday link up Life This Week
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