I hope you all had a lovely time and are looking forward to 2020. Believe me, if the world of books is anything to go by, 2020 is going to be a brilliant year! Please see below my book recommendations for the coming months. These are all cracking great reads – all easily getting my top rating of 5 stars!!!
Happy New ‘reading’ Year everyone. Enjoy! 🙂
Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson
I read this book months ago and I swear, I’m still suffering from my book hangover! This is an evocative, poignant story of first love that made me laugh and cry. It also introduced me to some damn good music!
Mix Tape is the story of two Sheffield teenagers that fall in love in the late 1970s. Sharing a passion for music, Daniel is the first boy to make Alison a mix tape. But then Alison abruptly disappears from Daniel’s life leaving him heartbroken.
Over 30 years later Dan is now living in Edinburgh with his partner and son. Out of the blue Dan is reminded of Alison and finds her on Twitter. He tweets her with a link to a song from their first ever date in 1978.
Forgetting her role as a wife and a mother for a few minutes, Ali is consumed by the powerful memories that Dan’s tweet has evoked. She can’t resist the urge to reply. And so as Dan and Ali share their memories and feelings for each other through the power of songs – some old, some new – a new mix tape is created.
But is this enough? Or will one of them do something that will change everything?
I adored this book; it is so evocative with a moving story that hooked me from beginning to end. I actually created Dan and Ali’s mix tape as a Spotify playlist as I read along. Each song, including music from Blondie, John Martyn and the Arctic Monkeys is so telling and loaded with meaning. It’s a beautiful mix tape and one of my favourite playlists. 🙂
Mix Tape is published on 23rd January 2020.
A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone
A Dark Matter is the brilliant first novel in a brand new crime series set in Edinburgh. It’s full of dark, dry wit with kick ass, female characters and has a gripping, intriguing plot.
When her husband Jim suddenly dies, it’s up to Dorothy Skelf – alongside her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah – to take charge of the family businesses; the long standing funeral home as well as Jim’s private investigating business.
As each of the women struggle to come to terms with their grief of loosing Jim, Dorothy discovers that Jim was secretly paying another woman £500 a month for years. Jenny fights the emotions she feels for her ex husband whilst trying her luck as a private investigator, attempting to solve a very unusual adultery case. And Hannah is in turmoil when she discovers that her best friend has vanished without trace.
I’m so lucky to have been invited to be on the UK blog tour of A Dark Matter to help publicise its publication later this month – so I’ll be reviewing this great read in more detail in a few weeks. But in the meantime what I will say is that I love Skelf woman – warm, flawed, strong and so unforgettable!
A Dark Matter is published on 23rd January 2020.
The next two books are written by debut authors represented by the Madeleine Milburn Agency, the agency that represents Gail Honeyman, the author of the bestseller Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Madeleine Milburn is an expert in recognising raw literary talent, as although Eleanor Oliphant and the two books outlined below are different, all share a raw, heartbreaking and page turning, hopeful narrative. Just like Eleanor Oliphant took the book world by storm, And the Stars Were Burning Brightly and The Silent Treatment are destined to do so also.
And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando
And The Stars Were Burning Brightly is a modern masterpiece. Yes, it subject matter is traumatic as it deals with teenage suicide and bullying, but it is written in such a tender, authentic manner, it is also so beautiful and hopeful.
Nathan is struggling to come to terms with the suicide of Al, his older brother. He cannot understand what would have driven Al to kill himself, who was a straight A student, artistic and had a dazzling future ahead of him. Grieving and angry, Nathan goes in search for answers. He soon discovers Megan who was Al’s friend and also struggling to come to terms with the traumatic death of her sensitive, talented friend.
Written from the point of view of both Nathan and Megan, this is an emotionally charged novel skilfully exploring their grief, anger and desperate need to fit in. Yet through Danielle’s Jawando’s amazing writing style, Al’s voice is forever present in this novel ensuring he burns brightly throughout this heartbreaking, beautiful narrative.
I cried most of the way through reading And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, but I couldn’t put it down. It is such a powerful page turner. Everyone needs to read this beautiful book – it is that powerful.
And The Stars Were Burning Brightly is published on 5th March 2020.
The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves
This stunning, character driven read tore my heart to pieces but also filled me with love and hope. Written with such depth and emotional intelligence, I couldn’t put it down.
The Silent Treatment is the heartbreaking story of Frank and Maggie. Married for 40 years, they have spent their adult lives together. The love story of their relationship is truly beautiful.
So why has Frank not spoken to his wife for the past six months? And when Maggie can’t take his silence any more, what will she do?
I absolutely loved the tone of this book. Initially written from Frank’s point of view, I was enthralled by the story of how he and Maggie fell in love and brokenhearted reading their struggles as a married couple. Even though they were faced with such pain, their love was so strong.
The Silent Treatment is so moving and unique. Frank and Maggie really captured my heart; especially Frank. His love and devotion to Maggie is so tangible.
The Silent Treatment is published on 2nd April 2020.
One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie
Described as the ‘most raucous debut of 2020‘ and ‘told with raw, acid humour,’ I was desperate to read One Year Of Ugly. I finished it just the other day and I can definitely say it lives up to its reputation! One Year of Ugly is sheer brilliance!
It tells the story of the lovable Palacios family, who having fled from their home country Venezuela, are now living as illegal immigrants in Trinidad. Told from the point of view of 24 year old Yola, the Palacios’s appear to be settling into their new life under the radar.
But when Yola’s Aunt Celia suddenly dies, the family are visited by a local crime lord called Ugly. Aunt Celia kept a massive secret – she owed Ugly thousands. But now Celia is dead, it is now the family that has to repay the debt.
This sounds pretty dark, but believe me, this book is far from dark. It is hilarious and refreshing. When writing this sensational read Caroline Mackenzie purposely used humour to portray the dangers, hardships and prejudices of being an illegal immigrant – and she does this to great effect.
And then there is Roman who is Ugly’s right-hand man. Roman, a dangerous man is charged with keeping a beady eye on the family. Yet the sexual tension between Roman and Yola is explosive.
I really believe everyone is going to be raving about One Year Of Ugly. Everything about is brilliant. I think there is also talk about it being made into a Netflix series, which will be ace!
One Year Of Ugly is published on 14th May 2020.
Well that’s it – my first book recommendations for 2020. I hope my suggestions have inspired you.
Wishing you all the best for 2020! And happy reading everyone! 🙂