My Top 5 Reads of 2020 plus a bonus one!

I’ve read some really great books this year and its going to be tough picking a top 5 but these are the ones that really stood out for me and I keep recommending to people! Not all of them were published this year but some were and at least one got a little lost in the pandemic. So in no particular order (apart from the bonus because it isn’t published yet) here are my top 5 reads of the year….

Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret.

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

I loved this book so, so much. I found it because The Write Reads invited me on a blog tour for it, otherwise I’m not sure I’d have discovered it. I loved it so much I read all the available books in the series back to back after it and I’m reading the latest one now. Highly recommend for all fantasy fans especially those who love the ‘animal companions’ trope. You can read my original review here.

Grave Secrets by Alice James

Agatha Raisin meets Sookie Stackhouse, with croquet and zombies. Toni Windsor is trying to live a quiet life in the green and pleasant county of Staffordshire. She’d love to finally master the rules of croquet, acquire a decent boyfriend and make some commission as an estate agent.

All that might have to wait, though, because there are zombies rising from their graves, vampires sneaking out of their coffins and a murder to solve.

And it’s all made rather more complicated by the fact that she’s the one raising all the zombies. Oh, and she’s dating one of the vampires too. Really, what’s a girl meant to do?

This book was a hugely fun read and just what I needed. A fresh new take on the Zombie genre with an entertaining heroine. I can’t wait for the next book in this series – it will definitely end up on my pre order list. You can read my original review here.

The Chalet by Catherine Cooper

Four friends. One luxury getaway. The perfect murder.

French Alps, 1998

Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 years later

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.

This one took me by surprise. I was invited to read an e-ARC of it and I accepted because it sounded like it could be good. I didn’t expect to be so gripped by it. This was probably the book I finished the fastest this year as I snuck pages in wherever I could as I needed to find out what happened next and who lived and who died. My original review is here.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

Another book that I had lower expectations of going in. However I was soon gripped by the humour and skill of the writing. I fell in love with the characters and loved learning about them while watching them solve crimes. Such a clever and wonderful addition to the crime genre, I look forward to re-joining the Thursday Murder Club for their next adventure. My original review can be found here.

Body Language by A. K. Turner

Camden mortuary assistant Cassie Raven has pretty much seen it all. But this is the first time she’s come face to face with someone she knows on the slab. Someone she cared about. Her friend and mentor, Mrs E.

Deeply intuitive and convinced that she can pick up the last thoughts of the dead, Cassie senses that there must be more to the ruling of an accidental death. Is her grief making her see things that aren’t there, or is her intuition right, and there’s something more sinister to her friend’s death than the ME thinks? Harbouring an innate distrust of the police, Cassie sets out to investigate and deliver justice to the woman who saved her life.

I discovered this book when I was offered the opportunity to read a sample, I got so sucked in to the story that as soon as I got to the end I hopped over to Netgalley to see if the e-ARC was available to request and was delighted to be approved to read it. I loved the characters and the sensitivity that life (and death) in the mortuary were handled with. My full review can be found here.

Plus an extra entry to….

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

Joe Tournier has a bad case of amnesia. His first memory is of stepping off a train in the nineteenth-century French colony of England. The only clue Joe has about his identity is a century-old postcard of a Scottish lighthouse that arrives in London the same month he does. Written in illegal English-instead of French-the postcard is signed only with the letter “M,” but Joe is certain whoever wrote it knows him far better than he currently knows himself, and he’s determined to find the writer. The search for M, though, will drive Joe from French-ruled London to rebel-owned Scotland and finally onto the battle ships of a lost empire’s Royal Navy. In the process, Joe will remake history, and himself.

I loved this story, there was just something wonderful about it and should make my top list, but it was an ARC that isn’t published yet, so it didn’t seem quite right on the main list as not many others will be able to read it yet. It was fantastic though and I highly recommend it! My review can be found here, if you want to know more.

Looking at this list I was slightly surprised at how many Crime books featured compared to Fantasy as the latter makes up more of my reading overall. I guess that’s probably something to do with my reading mood this year as well as the books themselves.