Top Books of the Year

Top 20 Books of 2020

Ok…. so this year was weird. I think we can all agree with that. Not our typical year. I didn’t write as many reviews as I normally do. But give me a break. I had a baby. During a pandemic.

Anywho…. even though I may not have written a ton of reviews, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading my pants off in between working, momming, and wifing. A total of 73 for the year. So here’s what you’re waiting for. The top 20 of 2020 (in no particular order).

Intensity by Dean Koontz

What in the name of holy hell? I read the first chapter of this book and almost put it down.  Like for good.  Because I couldn’t take it anymore.  Read at your own risk, but if you do, make sure you have some oxygen nearby because you might stop breathing.

The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

Burbs. Proud parents. Academic competition.  Upper middle-class suburbia at its finest (or lowest).  You decide.

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

If you’ve ready any of Cleeton’s other books, you’ll know why she’s on the list again this year.  She usually screams Cuba, but this time she screamed Key West and I wasn’t mad about it.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

SECOND. FAVORITE. BOOK. OF. ALL. TIME!  Read it right now.  You can thank me later.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Follow the struggles of a Mexican woman attempting to seek safety for her and her son from the cartels by making it onto American soil.  Lots of controversy surrounding this book, but it opened my eyes in a way they weren’t before.

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

This felt very Tom Sawyer.  Coming of age tale.  Epic journey.  Loved.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

The strangest romance novel you may ever read.  Does age matter when it comes to love?  Your answer may change after reading this one.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

All the quotes.  So much highlighting.  Every woman.  Every mother.  Every person.  Read this book and enjoy its greatness.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

I fell in love with these characters.  I loved this concept.  Diane is such an epic writer and this one was no exception.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

What would you do if you knew you were going to die in the next 24 hours and there was nothing you to do to stop it?  Why would somebody create that kind of technology?  Sounds awful, right?  Buckle up and enjoy.

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Looking for an epic romance for Pride Month?  Royalty meets romance meets wit and humor meets LGBTQ.  F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

Agree with the death penalty?  Tell me how you feel after you read this book.  How did it make me feel?  Angry. Angry. Angry.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

How could I get through this list without including Kristin Hannah?  She’s my girl.  Here she is with an oldie but a goodie. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Book of the Year winner from BOTM.  Light skinned black twins go their separate ways.  One lives as a black woman.  One “passes” as a white woman.  Feast your eyes in fascination on how the evolution of their lives differs based on the perceived color of their skin. 

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

I don’t know how Abi Dare even wrote this book, because the main character’s voice felt so incredibly authentic.  One of the top 5 Book of the Year finalists for BOTM and it sure deserved it.  Want to understand African poverty?  Here’s your chance.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

The main character pissed me off…. because… well…. independent women and all that stuff.  But I would pick this book up again just to read the nostalgic first paragraph of every chapter. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

In a book rut?  Tired of reading the same old stuff?  If you’re looking for a book that is totally unique and lyrically beautiful, this is it.  Major hangover when it was over.  One of the 5 Book of the Year finalists for BOTM. 

Anxious People by Frederk Backman

Here’s what I know about Frederik Backman.  The dude’s books are hit or miss for me.  But when he hits, he’s a f*cking genius.  While I was reading this book, I can’t tell you how many times I thought, “Only a special type of brain could have put this all together this way.”  Yet another top 5 finalist for Book of the Year. 

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

Underrated and underrepresented throughout the bookish community, this is a hidden gem.  And it’s free on Prime Reading.  Don’t say I never gave you anything.    

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

This is the final rose tonight.  Where are my Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise fans at?  If you just raised your hand, this is your next read. 

———————

There you have it. Now, we can’t afford to start 2021 on the wrong foot, so go catapult yourself into a read you already know is going to be great.

General Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Thriller

The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

The Perfect Daughter by D.J. Palmer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Out April 20, 2021!

I have such mixed feelings about this book. Here are a collection of my feelings:

1. I though the twist was pleasantly unexpected, which is difficult to do with today’s thrillers.
2. The middle of the story was a little bit slow, and it felt like the characters were having the exact same conversation 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 times, which got a little monotonous as the reader.
3. I typically enjoy stories told from multiple perspectives, but I struggled a bit with it here. Without titling the chapters or being clearer at the outset of each chapter, it sometimes took me a bit to figure out who’s perspective I was reading. And to be honest, the entire perspective told by Jack seemed unnecessary and misplaced.
4. I wasn’t really sure what Jack’s film had to do with anything. It was an odd detail that never really developed.
5. At times, I felt like Grace was being a little overzealous about really small discoveries that she felt might change the course of the case. But to me as the reader, those discoveries were completely insignificant and their ability to impact the case was kind of a stretch.
5. I really enjoyed the concept of multiple personalities and the philosophical question about whether or not somebody should be held accountable to something one of their other personalities did or didn’t do.

Overall, solid 3 star read. I think I’m in the minority here as others seem to have loved it so read it and decide for yourself.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, D.J. Palmer, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-



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Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult), Science Fiction

The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey

The Future Is Yours by Dan Frey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Out February 9, 2021!

Love love love the format of this book. I’m always drawn to books that are written as letters, emails, text messages, and any other format other than typical prose.

I have seen some say that they had a hard time connecting with the characters because of the format, but I had the opposite effect. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters in a different way and seeing how their relationships evolved over the course of the story.

I am always on board for a book about time travel or bending time. It makes my brain hurt in a wonderful way, trying to think through the repercussions, and this book was no exception. It gave me a Black Crouch type of feel which I love.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Dan Frey, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-



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Bookish Happenings

Home Sweet Houser at 100 Reviews on NetGalley!

Going to make this short and sweet but just wanted to share that I’ve officially reached 100 reviews on NetGalley!

100 Book Reviews

For those of you who don’t know what NetGalley is, it is a platform that publishers use to communicate with bloggers and reviewers.  It’s a way for publishers to provide electronic advanced copies of books to reviewers in exchange for them reading and reviewing the book.

For more information on reviewing through NetGalley, read my blog post titled The Baby Book Blogger’s Guide to ARCs.

I joined NetGalley two years ago when I started this blog and have made it a point to be responsible with requesting and reviewing books.  I’ve seen far too many people request dozens of books from publishers and then never read or review them.  So I always make a point to only request those books that I’m going to read (my feedback percentage is currently at 97% so I have provided feedback on almost all of the books I’ve committed to reading with a few waiting in the hopper).

Reaching 100 reviews felt so unattainable when I started this blog, but I’m super happy to have provided feedback on 100 books for publishers in the last two years and to get the word out for these fantastic authors and books.

Okay, I’m out of here.  Off to read the next 100!

Fantasy

Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

Ruthless Gods (Something Dark and Holy, #2)Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Just published!

To be honest, I have such mixed feelings about this book that it’s hard to rate it. This is the second in the Something Dark and Holy series and after reading the first book, Wicked Saints, I knew I wanted to continue reading the series.

This series is essentially about two countries at war, Tranavia and Kalyazin; one country believes in blood magic and the other believes in gods. They’re in an age old conflict about their beliefs.

The books follows two primary characters, Serefin who is the king of Tranavia and Nadya who is a cleric from Kalyazin, both trying to end the war in their own way. There are several secondary characters that impact the story as well.

Things I liked:
1. The characters. I enjoyed the individuality of the characters and appreciated that the author gave us some additional insight into the thoughts of the secondary characters in this book.
2. The overall premise of the story. I like the idea of two countries at war. I like the magical elements. I appreciate the twists and cliffhangers.
3. The further exploration of the gods. We learned some additional back story that I found interesting and thought added depth to the story.

Things I did not like:
The execution. I really struggled with the author’s writing in this sequel. I struggled a bit with the first book as well but this one seemed to be particularly difficult to follow. Here are some things I found tough:
-I had a really hard time visualizing space/location. I didn’t feel like the author did a great job describing the setting, especially for a book set in a fictional world where the reader has no frame of reference to draw from.
-The timeline was difficult to follow. I felt like the timeline would jump around a lot. One second the characters would be in one place doing something and then POOF the next second they would be somewhere completely different doing something else. And there wasn’t a great transition or explanation as to how they got there.
-The fictional language. I appreciate that the author is creating her own fantasy world and has created a language to go along with that. But there were times when random words were used throughout the story and there was no explanation or translation as to what they meant. It felt both useless and distracting. They’re also really difficult to pronounce with lots of letters side by side that don’t feel like they should go together (i.e. towy dzimyka, Telich’nevyi, Volokhtaznikon, etc.).

Overall, I feel like I’ve invested time in this series so will probably continue to read it when the next book comes out. But, if I knew then what I know now, I might not have started in the first place. This series has a lot of potential but I just wish I liked the writing more.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Emily A. Duncan, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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