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Handwritten Girl’s Top 12 Books Of 2020

Top 12 Books Of 2020It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a strange old year. For some of us, we either lost our reading mojo and for others, we discovered a new passion that helped us escape the chaos of the world.

For me, my reading dipped regularly. Sometimes, I couldn’t be found without a book in my hand and other times, I left a pile of half read books in my path unable to find one to catch my attention.

If you’re looking for book ideas for yourself or for others for Christmas, check out my top 12 books of 2020, for some ideas.

Click on the links to read my thoughts on the books and why these books might appeal to you.

‘The Dilemma’ by ‘B.A. Paris
‘The Minute I Saw You’ by Paige Toon
‘The Other Passenger’ by Louise Candlish
‘Grown Ups’ by Marian Keyes
‘My One True North’ by Milly Johnson
‘The Last Charm’ by Ella Allbright
‘My Dark Vanessa’ by Kate Elizabeth Russell
‘Just My Luck’ by Adele Parks
The Lockdown Diary of Tom Cooper’ by Spencer Brown
‘The Flipside’ by James Bailey
‘Invisible Girl’ by Lisa Jewell
‘After The Silence’ by Louise O’Neill.

Although these books are available on Amazon, please consider buying from an independent bookseller to help supporting local businesses during this time.

After The Silence By Louise O’Neill

After The Silence‘After The Silence’ is the latest book by Irish author, Louise O’Neill.

On the day of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s wild party at their big house a violent storm engulfed the island of Inisrun, cutting it off from the mainland. When morning broke Nessa Crowley’s lifeless body lay in the garden, her last breath silenced by the music and the thunder. The killer couldn’t have escaped Inisrun, but on-one was charged with the murder. The mystery that surrounded the death of Nessa remained hidden. But the islanders knew who to blame for the crime that changed them forever. Ten years later a documentary crew arrives, there to lift the lid off the Kinsella’s carefully constructed lives, determined to find evidence that will prove Henry’s guilt and Keelin’s complicity in the murder of beautiful Nessa.

Louise O’Neill is back with another fantastic book with a deep exploration of female characters and toxic relationships, with a shocking end that kept me awake far later than my bedtime intended.

For me, Louise has become that author, who’s book I have to read on its publication day and after completion, I then sit back with my thoughts at the genuinely gripping and atmospheric writing.

The story is primarily seen through the narrative of Keelin Kinsella written in the past and present tense. The past sequences are about her life, her family and meeting her second husband Henry Kinsella, who’s family was a blow in to the remote island and brought much needed economy to Inisrún. Keelin falls for Henry’s charm and security and they marry. But on her 37th birthday party, a young girl was found murdered at the house and this later became known as ‘The Crowley Girl’ and although no one was ever charged with her murder, all fingers pointed towards Henry. Now 10 years later, an Australian film making duo want to make an anniversary documentary about the murder and talk to everyone involved, including Keelin and Henry.

‘After The Silence’ is a new angle for Louise, as it’s the first murder mystery from the Irish author, but having said that, it’s one of the best mysteries that I’ve read in a while.

The setting of the small rural and remote island where only access is available via a boat, gives an eerie and claustrophobic vibe to the story. It’s a small close knit community that was torn apart from the murder and never recovered, with speculation and conspiracies shared at every opportunity.

The characters are extremely interesting in this book, particularly Keelin. She left an abusive relationship for the sake of her eldest son and thinks that she has found love and security with Henry but it comes at a price. He’s controlling and manipulating and has people come to house to do her hair and make-up instead of letting her leave the house. He says that it’s for the best for her, as people have turned against them since the murder. She’s convinced that he’s only looking out for her but as time goes by, Keelin begins to wonder if she has left one abusive marriage for another. Through the past and present sequences, we see Keelin change in character, she becomes meeker and more subdued as her wings become more clipped. Henry is a charming and charismatic man, who boasts wealth and statue but after the death of the young girl, the village have turned on him even though he denies any involvement and hopes the documentary will prove his innocence.

Like Louise’s previous books, ‘After The Silence’ focuses on toxic relationships, gas lighting and inter partner terrorism (a new one for me). She explodes coercive control and writes in great detail, how much a person can change with slowly being chipped away. This story evoked some extreme reactions in me from profound sadness to raging anger to think that there were men and women in the world that are exposed to this type of treatment on a daily basis, unaware of how they were going to be treated to walking on eggshells and not create a negative reaction. It’s also evident that Louise went to huge lengths of research for this book, exploring relationships and police procedures.

As well as the past and present sequences, there are also extracts from the film makers interviewing residents of the island and this makes for really intriguing reading, as they all have their own thoughts and opinions on the night as well as Henry and Keelin Kinsellsa.

As the story is set on a remote island, there are elements of the Irish language throughout it and this gave an almost folklore vibe to the story as well as the tight knit community who all seek to find justice for the young girl.

A compelling dark and twisted story of murder and devastation, ‘After the Silence’ is an atmospheric and psychological story about the justice for a young girl that raises unanswered questions and takes a look at what really goes on behind closed doors when everything is quiet.

You can buy ‘After the Silence’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Jake Woodhouse Writers Tip

The CopycatJake Woodhouse is the Sunday Times bestselling author of ‘After the Silence’, ‘Into the Night’, ‘Before the Dawn’ and ‘The Copycat’ is the fourth book in the ‘Amsterdam Quartet with Inspector Jaap Rykel’series.

Today Jake shares his writing tips for aspiring authors.

There’s an oft-quoted but of advice which is something along the lines of, write what you know. This is terrible advice. Write about what you don’t know, and learn something in process.

Read more about Jake and his writing journey

Jake Woodhouse

The CopycatJake Woodhouse is the Sunday Times bestselling author of ‘After the Silence’, ‘Into the Night’, ‘Before the Dawn’ and ‘The Copycat’ is the fourth book in the ‘Amsterdam Quartet with Inspector Jaap Rykel’series

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
    I got into writing after waking up from an emergency operation to find a nurse checking the clipboard hanging at the bottom to the bed. She said, with a name like that you should be writing thrillers. Which was really weird because the truth is I’d always wanted to but for some reason, fear probably, I’d done many things (musician, winemaker, entrepreneur) but never written a word.
  2. Can you tell us a bit about your new book, ‘The Copycat’
    ‘The Copycat’ deals with two issues which are becoming hot topics and are often seen as being two sides of the same coin, mental health and drugs. However, in researching it, my opinions changed drastically and the novel is a reflection of this much more nuanced and less clear cut view.
  3. What made you decide Crime?
    Crime is universal really, most good stories whether they’re put in the crime genre or not have some element of ‘crime’ or disturbance against the natural order. That’s what all fiction is really about anyway.
  4. Who’s your favourite villain or hero?
    Tough one, I’d say Johnny Utah in the original ‘Point Break’. He was a member of the establishment who goes through a personal transformation which puts him in contact with a world he never knew existed, and one he ultimately will sacrifice everything in his old life for.
  5. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    T.C. Boyle, James Ellroy and Thomas Pynchon. Though I suspect it would be less of a book club and more of an all out wild ride.
  6. If you could rewrite any book, what would it be and why?
    I’ve never been asked this… I’m not really sure what book I’d want to rewrite, sounds like an arduous task which would inevitably offend the original author.
  7. What do you find to be the hardest part of the writing process?
    Everything which isn’t the writing!
  8. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    The opening of Don Winslow’s ‘Savages’ (you’ll have to look it up). Can’t get better than that. Also T.C. Boyle’s opening to ‘Drop City’

    ‘The morning was a fish in a net, glistening and wriggling at the dead black border of her consciousness, but she’d never caught a fish in a net or on a hook either, so she couldn’t really say if or how or why.’

    Out of context it makes very little, if any, sense. But in the context of who the character is and what’s she doing it’s a brilliant evocation of her state of mind and serves as a perfect setup for the novel to come.

  9. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Probably the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer, hands down the most original, startling, weird and ultimately satisfying pieces of fiction ever to be committed to paper.
  10. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    There’s an oft-quoted but of advice which is something along the lines of, write what you know. This is terrible advice. Write about what you don’t know, and learn something in process.
  11. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    My dogs (though really at my feet is better, they tend to get in the way on my desk).
  12. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website.
    I do but they’re top secret so the old I-could-tell-you-but-I’d-have-to-kill-you thing would sadly apply.

For more information about Jake Woodhouse go to his website

You can buy ‘The Copycat’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.