I love books. I have always loved books. I have two floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled to the gills with books, plus a pile by the couch and a few stuffed in other nooks and crannies. I have an assortment loaned to friends and a couple loaned to me by them. My Amazon birthday wishlist is 90% books. Books. Books. Books.
A new book is always exciting. A new world awaits just inside the pages. From a young age, adventures and fantasy books drew me in and let me explore and imaging worlds all my own. Through a special program at school, I was able to write and have my very first story bound in a hard cover. It was about a girl who helped solve a mystery of some ancient Egyptian jewels that went missing from a museum. What a wonderful way that my teachers helped my love of writing and books.
On this World Book Day, I started thinking about my favorite books. It is pretty impossible to pick one ultimate favorite so I have decided I would look back at my reading list from 2020 and share a few of the ones I loved the most.
2020 threw a massive amount of curveballs into everyone’s lives. Through it, I managed to read more books in a single year that I had probably ever. I read seventeen books including three separate book series, one non-fiction and one script book. The stories ranged from fantasy and science fiction to romance and noir. Alright, enough of the statistics, let’s get into the books!
The Royal We and The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I fell in love with Heather and Jessica through their blog- Go Fug Yourself. They are witty and approachable. Reading their posts is like chatting your best friends about all things fashion, royal and more. I read The Royal We back when it was originally published in 2015 and thought it was suiting to give it a re-read during the run up to the release of the sequel, The Heir Affair, that was released July 2020.
The novels are the tale of an American girl and her unlikely romance with a fictional British royal. With real, well researched locations and nods to their real life counterparts, following Bex and Nick on their journey of trying to navigate life together and through the Firm is fun and exciting. The Royal We left off on quite the juicy cliffhanger to deal with and The Heir Affair did not disappoint. While it was one of the longest books I read in 2020, it was one of the fastest reads I had. I couldn’t put it down. Heather and Jessica craft their chapters so well, you need to keep reading! It’s just that simple.
I am not a romance reading kind of gal usually, but this one ticks the boxes. It has the right mix of real life strife and awkwardness, fantastic settings and scenery, a lovable crew of characters that you wish could be your real life friends and main characters that you root for from start to finish.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman has been my most favorite author for several years now. I devour every novel and short story I can get my hands on. My husband took me to an Evening with Neil Gaiman event and I will never forget it. He read lots of his works including one of my favorite short stories, “Click Clack the Rattle Bag,” and he answered questions. In answering one of the questions, he gave a piece of advice; there are no such thing as aspiring writers. You are either a writer or you’re not. And to be a writer you have to write. And write and write some more. It was like the words were tapping me on the shoulder, “Well, Shanel? Are you a writer or not?”
I had not read Stardust till this past year when asked to borrow my mother-in-law’s copy. I don’t think I will ever be able to choose an official favorite amongst Gaiman’s work, but Stardust instantly became one of the most highly favorited works I’ve read to date. I adore how he interweaves the stories between the three parties that are in search of the fallen star. There is a subtle wit and word play that is present in all of Gaiman’s works, but it shined (no pun intended) in this fantastical world of Faire.
I literally recommend everything by Neil Gaiman. If you haven’t read anything by him, why don’t you try Stardust. It’s magical and adventurous and will give you a brief reprieve from our world’s stresses.
I hope you find some magic or a new adventure in the next book you read. I also encourage you to shop at your local independent bookstore. Most of them have websites and go the extra mile to make your purchase special.
(I am not paid to promote any book or store. My recommendations are just from my heart!)