01 July 2020

Fellow Reviewers Share Their 2020 Mid Year Favourite Books

Just like that and we're in the second half of 2020! Can you believe it? This time last year I asked some of my favourite reviewers to share their 2019 Mid Year Favourites and it was so much fun I'm doing it again. This year I'm pleased to introduce three new reviewers and I hope you'll be tempted by their favourite books of 2020 so far.

Veronica Joy

I’m Veronica, book lover and reality TV watcher. I blog at The Burgeoning Bookshelf or you can find me on Twitter. My original reading preference was the fantasy genre but since joining Goodreads in 2011 my reading has expanded to include historical fiction, women’s fiction, crime and some young adult. Since having grandchildren I have added children’s books to my list and I love reading with them. When I’m not reading you will probably find me watching some cringe worthy reality TV show. It’s been extremely difficult to knock my mid year favourites for 2020 down to two books. But here they are.

House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon book cover
House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon
House On Endless Waters is set in present day Amsterdam. Yoel, a well known author, travels from Israel to Amsterdam to promote his latest book. He is reluctant to go as he has promised his mother that he will never return to the place of his birth. A chance visit to the Jewish Historical Museum brings him face to face with his past and sets off a roller coaster of emotions that will keep Yoel in Amsterdam until all his questions are answered.

The story is told in a unique dual timeline where the author has included both timelines in one narrative. The historical part being Yoel’s thoughts on the book he is writing on his mother’s life and this is blended with the story as if it is happening in real time.

This was a heart-wrenching story of the lengths many had to go to to protect their family. You can read my full review here.

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox book cover
How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox
How It Feels to Float is an own voice story of teenager Biz’s life with mental illness. Biz lost her father when she was young and this had a major impact on how she saw the world and how she saw herself.

This is a story of intergenerational mental illness with themes of friendship, sexuality, grief and depression it will pull at your heart strings. Fox adds elements of magical realism and it blurs between what is real and what is not. The story is, at times, hectic and mixed up much like I can imagine Biz’s mind would be.

I do hope Biz’s story helps people understand a little more about living with mental illness not only from the sufferers point of view but also from those that love and support them. You can read my full review here.

Bree Testa

I’m Bree and I’ve been blogging at 1girl2manybooks for over 10 years now. I originally started blogging as a way to get back into reading after having my first baby. I read quite widely with strong connections to romance, YA and contemporary fiction. It’s been a personal challenge of mine to read more non-fiction in the last couple of years as well and I quite often use fiction books to leapfrog into non-fiction. For me, the perfect day is a new book and endless cups of tea!

Choosing just two books that are my favourites from 2020 so far was always going to be a hard task and I did spend quite a lot of time thinking about it. In the end I decided to go with one non-fiction and one fiction.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller book cover
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
My first book is Know My Name by Chanel Miller. This is a memoir, written by the victim of a sexual assault case that “went viral” when her victim impact statement was published in its entirety on Buzzfeed, under a pseudonym. The letter was shared and viewed millions of times and Chanel Miller chose to take back her identity by writing this book, presenting her side of the story. It’s a very frank and honest account and details the difficulty in prosecuting sexual assault cases, even when there are witnesses, like in this one. It’s a look at the way in which victims are portrayed vs the perpetrator, the aggressive lines of questioning and the things that defense attorneys will focus on: a victim’s drinking, dress style, motives for being at a party.

This is a hard read - and I fully concede that it’s not a book everyone will be able to explore. It’s a difficult, distressing topic and at times I found myself feeling extreme anxiety whilst reading it, even though I knew the outcome of the case. It’s brutal, raw, agony at times but it’s also thoughtful questioning and a critique of not just the process of reporting a sexual assault but also the sentencing laws and even the definition of ‘rape’. Read my full review on my website.

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke book cover
The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke
My second book I decided to go with The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke. This was the sort of book where it looked like I’d enjoy it based on the feel/description but I had no idea how much I was going to love it. This book took me on the most unexpected journey of twists and turns. It’s such a beautiful story, about a song written, left behind, picked up and shared around the world by a variety of people who each put their own special twist on it. It comes to mean many things to many different people. It brings people together, it is the cause of people coming into each other’s lives.

I loved the way the author chose to tell the story, which feels a bit disjointed at first but as you settle into it, becomes the perfect way to see the impact on so many people. This is the sort of book that takes you through a whole range of emotions, gives you things to grieve over but then later on, things that make you laugh and feel warm and fuzzy inside. There are so many layers to this story, it’s fantastic. I know it’ll be the sort of book that stays with me for a long time. Read my full review on my website.

Claire Louisa

I’m Claire Louisa, I’m an avid reader and reviewer, an art therapist and sometimes artist. I read a wide variety of genres and am always willing to try something new. I read a lot of historical fiction, my favourite is Australian historical fiction. I also read a fair bit of erotica, romance, LGBT romance and contemporary fiction. My reviews can be found at Claire’s Reads and Reviews, on Facebook or Instagram. I also am the Speculative Fiction Round-up Editor for Australian Women Writers Challenge which is not a genre I read a great deal myself, but I do enjoy seeing what is out there and expanding my reading to include some of the great books I get to showcase.

This year has been a bit all over the place as far as reading goes, I’ve been through a bit of a slump, as have many people, but I’m hoping I’m on my way back to devouring books. I’ve had a couple of stand-out reads this year but I’m going to pick two historical fiction novels that I found hard to put down.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams book cover
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
The first is The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. I read this via The Pigeonhole which breaks books up into staves and sends you one each day, which was frustrating in a way because I wanted to keep reading, but it allowed me to really savour this novel.

This book is now firmly on my list of top 10 books for 2020, it was an interesting, emotional and powerful novel, covering so many subjects. It is a beautiful and engaging book and I had no idea where the story was going to lead me, right through to the end, Pip Williams never failed to surprise me. There were parts where I was silently begging her not to take me where I thought we might be going, and from the other readers' comments, as we read, I wasn't alone in this. There were also parts that caused me anger, grief, happiness, and so many other emotions, but I have to admit that the final stave had me in tears more than once.

Pip Williams has a way with words, her ability to convey what people are thinking or feeling, to describe a situation or the environment, to put words themselves into context was remarkable and beautiful. There were so many lines I'd have loved to have pulled out and shared. You can read my full review on my blog.

The Scottish Boy by Alex de Campi book cover
The Scottish Boy by Alex de Campi
My next choice is The Scottish Boy by Alex de Campi. I truly loved this novel, it had intrigue, romance, and sex galore as well as fighting and dirty politics as was consistent with the time of 1333. An LGBT historical novel set in the 1300s, a time I knew nothing about, and a time I am glad I didn't live in. It was certainly a violent time with wars going on for land and titles continuously, as well as plots to take France or Scotland or for France to take England, so much scheming going on I don't know how anyone, especially Edward III slept at night.

Harry is young and eager to become a knight, he has very little idea of what this truly entails only having fought and trained in tournaments. Turning up just after a fight he was hoping to be in, he is pulled into a scheme he has no understanding of, but which will change his life completely.

The book spans many years, many plots and intrigues and Harry has to learn who he wants to be and who he can truly trust. There are some surprising alliances formed and I really enjoyed the way I was at times not sure where everything was leading and how it was going to end up. Read my full review on my blog.


Huge thanks to Veronica, Bree & Claire for their contributions and for being part of this mid year Carpe Librum collaboration.

I was super happy to see so many Australian authors make the list and 
I hope you enjoyed the variety of recommendations. I've had my eye on The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams so it was great to see it on Claire's list. Have you read any of the books featured? What caught your eye?

Carpe Librum!

Would you like to comment?

  1. Thank you Tracey, it's great seeing the varied books that other reviewers have loved this first half of the year. I'm with Veronica Joy on How it Feels to Float, that was a deeply moving book for me, with a subject matter I kniw much about and could completely empathise with Biz, the main character.

    1. You're welcome Claire, and glad to hear you enjoyed How It Feels to Float as well. It was fun seeing what you all chose to highlight and I'm yet to have a double-up. I wonder if that'll ever happen. I guess we'll have to wait until next year now :-)

  2. I have Dictionary of Lost Words on my shelf to get to, hopefully soon. And The Lost Love Song is one of my favourites for this year as well.

    1. Oooh, interesting to hear you have one of these on your TBR and thought so highly of another. Great stuff, thanks for sharing Marg.

  3. Thanks for having me on your blog Tracey. I love that we all chose different books. I have a few new titles to add to my TBR pile now.

    1. You're welcome Veronica and I loved the variety in the selections as well. I'm also stoked that you have a few new titles to add to your TBR, perfect!!!

  4. Thanks for sharing these titles, none of which I’ve read but have now added to my wishlist!

    1. Brilliant thanks Shelleyrae, I'm so glad it added to your TBR.


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!