Monday, January 11, 2021

Top Ten Reads of 2020

2020 - I almost feel like just saying the year out loud is all that needs to be said.  This past year was an experience that I hope and pray we don't repeat.  My reading suffered at times more often than not.  I still had an amazing year quality wise - according to Goodreads my average rating was 4.3 - which feels about right when I think about it.  I have a tendency to set books aside that aren't working for me rather than finishing (and hating) them.  I finished 59 books total for the year which is on the lower side (according to Goodreads this ties my lowest year of reading since I've been keeping track on there which was back in 2017).  Living through a pandemic just meant that I was unable to concentrate on reading like I usually do - it is what it is.  I did read some really great books though that I'm excited to share about with all of you.  Here are the ten best books that I read in 2020:

Long Bright River by Liz Moore - This book deserves ALL of the hype that it received this year in my opinion.  What do you say about a book like this?  It was outstanding.  I fell into the pages of this book and was absolutely swept away.  The author brought the characters to life in a way that has me still thinking about them...still thinking about how realistic their struggles were and how true to life they are for so many....just wow!  This is a book that deserves to be talked about and widely read. I cannot wait to see what Liz Moore comes up with next!

In the Dark by Loreth Anne White - This book on the other hand didn't get the hype that it deserved in my opinion.  DON'T MISS OUT ON THIS AMAZING BOOK!  This book is the best tribute to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None that I've read (besides the original book itself of course).  I loved this one so much that I instantly added ALL of this author's backlist to my TBR.  READ this book if you enjoy isolated mysteries that keep you guessing the entire time in the best of ways!

When You See Me by Lisa Gardner - Four books into this series and this author can do NO wrong in my opinion!  This mystery series is one of my absolute favorites because every book has been such a page turner filled with suspense!  I don't think that you have to start all the way at the beginning with book one (I didn't) but would suggest starting with the 1st book featuring Flora Dane which is Find Her.  This book gave us so many answers in regards to Flora which has me itching to see where the series goes next.  SOO GOOD!

The Good House by Tananarive Due - Wow!  This book absolutely blew me away in the best of ways.  Stephen King who?  Kidding - sort of - not really.  In all seriousness, I cannot begin to comprehend how more people aren't talking about this author and this book.  It's horror which I know isn't for everyone (it does have truly scary moments) but there is so much more to it.  Out of all of my favorites of the year - this is the one that I keep recommending over and over again in the hopes that many other readers will find it and love it like I did! I will be reading more by this author in 2021!

The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda - This book was another one that I felt flew under the radar (of bookstagram at least) which is an absolute shame!  This book was gorgeously heartbreaking at times and hopeful at others.  It had characters that I STILL think about and a storyline that I won't forget about anytime soon.  I need to read EVERYTHING else that this author has written!

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James - This book was one of the creepiest books I read all year (alongside The Good House of course).  This book was both dark and atmospheric making it a VERY suspenseful read.  And within the pages of this book the author manages to look at both violence against women and how victims are viewed in society by the way they lived.  Wow!  This is another author where I'm going to need to read EVERYTHING that she has written because this book was so damn good!

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea - This is the 2nd year in a row that this author has made my top reads list of the year.  This book was page turning suspense at its finest!  I loved that in this book we were given the chance to learn more about Rory and Lane but was written where it could also be read as a standalone (I do recommend starting with Some Choose Darkness though if possible).  This book was a dark and thrilling read that I couldn't get enough of!

Don't Look For Me by Wendy Walker - This is my 1st book by this author but certainly won't be my last!  This book was a page turning, anxiety filled ride that I couldn't get enough of.  The author also really looks at a mother's grief over the loss of a child which wasn't always easy to read but yet... (I'm noticing a theme here of loving thrillers that take a look at some deeper issues as well).  I'm so excited to have found this author and will be checking out her entire backlist!

And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall - This book was made my top reads of the year list easily!  There is just something about the way that this author writes that I just cannot get enough of.  It's the rhythm...the way that she keeps me guessing at every turn of the page...and the imperfections of her characters that keeps me coming back for more.  I'm determine to read this author's entire backlist which is why I'm already reading another of her books currently.

The Dead Season by Tessa Wegert - I actually read both books in this series (this is the 2nd) in 2020.  I've seen Death in the Family on a lot of favorites of the year list but for me this book is where it is at.  This book was a slow burning mystery filled with suspense in the best of ways.  I was absolutely there for the ride that the author was taking me on every step of the way.  I highly recommend both books in this series and I will be impatiently waiting for book three!

Looking back, I really did have such an amazing year of reading really great books.  There are at least six more books that could have been on this list.  Honorable mentions include the following - A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight, Cut to the Bone by Ellison Cooper, Revolver Road by Christi Daugherty, Shatter the Night by Emily Littlejohn, All The Best Lies by Joanna Schaffhausen, and Tuesday's Gone by Nicci French.  I could keep going which says it all.  

What book or books were your favorites of 2020?

Monday, January 4, 2021

January Books I'm Excited About...

I thought it would be fun in 2021 to share some of the books that I'm really excited about each month!  Let's acknowledge the fact that this is most likely not ALL of them.  I really get excited/want to read WAY more books than I actually even read in a year.  Story of a mood reader I guess....and someone that literally wants to read ALL of the books!  This list might even help me prioritize the books that I want to read but that remains to be seen (as I'm writing this first post in 2020).  Here are just some of the books releasing in January that I am most excited about (with the disclaimer that I have no idea if publishing dates will be moved all around like they were in 2020):

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner is a new standalone that I am SO excited about.  This is labeled as "a propulsive thriller featuring an ordinary woman who will stop at nothing to find the missing people that the rest of the world has forgotten."  YES PLEASE!

If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier has such a gorgeous cover!  This book is described as "When her favorite true crime podcast host goes missing, an adrift young woman plunges headfirst into the wild backcountry of Northern California and her own dangerous obsession."  I'm here for it!

Every Waking Hour is the 4th book in Ellery Hathaway series which is an absolute favorite of mine.  I don't care what this one is about - I'm going to read it!

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins has already been getting some pretty great reviews that I've seen.  This is all I needed to hear before I wanted to pick it up: "A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins's The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda."

Bloodline by Jess Lourey sounds like a darker thriller which I can never resist.  This description has me itching to pick it up: "
Perfect town. Perfect homes. Perfect families. It’s enough to drive some women mad…"

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce sounds SO good!  It's described as "An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history--and the men who drove her to it."

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous is the newest book by an author that I've been wanting to try.  This book is listed as "The USA Today bestselling author of The Au Pair returns with another delicious, twisty novel--about a grand estate with many secrets, an orphan caught in a web of lies, and a young woman playing a sinister game."

A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion is one of those books that as soon as I read the description was instantly added to my TBR.  I NEED to know what happens in this book!  "A haunting, suspenseful literary debut that combines a classic coming of age story with a portrait of a fractured American family dealing with the fallout of one summer evening gone terribly wrong."

What book or books are you looking forward that are releasing in January?