I think we can all agree that 2020 was a year none of us expected. If anything, 2020 has made me appreciate my love for reading. I’m not sure I could have gotten through this wild year without the help of books. I didn’t make it through my entire reading list, but I did knock off 27 of them!
Each book was a brief escape from the crazy world. I loved all 27 of them, but I’m narrowing it down to my top 10. I’ll put my full list at the bottom!
#10 Maybe This Time written by Kasie West
As someone who loves event planning, this novel was a hit for me. Pretty much, Sophie Evans is adding her floral touches at every event in town and you learn just how charming her town is at each one. Seriously, I’d live there if I could!
This novel follows nine events over the course of one year. What West does best in this novel is the enemies to lovers romance. Now, when I say this, I’m not saying Andrew Hart is a full throttle jerk. No. He’s just…one of those guys you think you have figured out at first glance. After Andrew is pretty much forced to help at these events, their relationship shifts over the year. Each event creates an impact on their relationship, good and bad.
This book made me feel young again. Don’t you remember what that high school love felt like? How all the details made you feel innocently giddy in a way you stayed up all night over analyzing? Just me?
This novel was a sweet read that made my heart incredibly thrilled. Sometimes, an easy, uplifting read can do the heart some good. If you’re a fan of Sarah Dessen, add Kasie West’s novels to your list. You won’t be disappointed.
#9 The Good Fight written by Jana Kramer and Michael Caussin
I’m recently engaged and a huge Jana Kramer fan. So this pre-order was a must! I love any TV show or movie she’s in, her music and her Whine Down Podcast with her husband Michael Caussin. Out of the three, it’s her podcast I’m always turning to. The Whine Down podcast is real and honest. It really has helped me see my relationship from a new perspective. And I say this, because it isn’t just Jana talking, but Michael, too! So the day I learned they were publishing a book, I pre-ordered that sucker immediately. And after reading The Good Fight…wow. This novel taught me to have empathy towards a loved one.
Throughout the novel, they cover fights and how they could have done them differently, while capturing the perspective of both sides. To me, having both perspectives was my biggest take away. Reading this book helped me see things in a way my fiancé does. Michael Caussin’s perspective opened my eyes to have a bit of insight to what my fiancé feels or thinks during situations. Not only that, but it’s helped me rethink my approach on how I communicate with him.
Whether you married, engaged or looking for your better half, I highly recommend this novel! Empathy and patience goes a longggg way & can create a common ground of peace rather than an uneven playing field of assumptions and unknown expectations in a relationship.
#8 The Rural Diaries: Love, Livestock, and Big Life Lessons Down on Mischief Farm written by Hilarie Burton
So, I’m also a big fan of Hilarie Burton. If you haven’t tied author #8 and author #9 together yet, their common denominator is acting on a show called One Tree Hill. One of my top 5 favorites.
Anyway…this book meant a lot to me because I’m such a fan. If you don’t know who she is, you might not find this book as interesting as I did. But it does come with a recipe to make dandelion wine, so it’s a win-win regardless, right?
This book was hard to put down honestly. I think the fact that I was reading someone’s journey and memories is why every chapter kept drawing me in. Hilarie Burton has a way of making you feel what she felt. She’s also pretty freaking bad ass. Like…damn! Read the book and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Not giving too much away, but anyone who can do what she did, while caring for a new born baby deserves a freaking gold medal in life. Reading her book taught me that I’m capable of so much more if I just block out the excess and get straight to doing what needs to be done.
Hilarie Burton is an absolute gem in this novel. Even if you aren’t a fan, just listen to her journey. She goes from being on one of CW’s biggest shows back to old roots of life to living on a farm with a ton of animals that, yes, she takes care of.
#7 Lady Midnight written by Cassandra Clare
I know this series has been out for a couple years now, but I finally got around to reading this in December. I’d read my #5 prior to this, so I went into reading this book with high expectations & WOW! Emma Carstairs does what she wants, when she wants and how she wants and I AM ALWAYS HERE FOR THIS!
Magnus Bane even makes an appearance!! And you have a brief bit of insight of what Alec, Jace, Clary, Simon and Isabel are up to. This drew me in and is why I even gave the series a chance. I’ll always want more from Jace and Clary!
Back to Lady Midnight… I really fell in love with Julian. My heart hurts for him. I’m keeping this present tense cause I’m still reading the series. For real though, he deserves a lot better. His role in his family is far too much for one person, but he does it so perfectly and that made me love him from the start.
My favorite scene (scroll if you don’t want a spoiler) is when Emma takes Julian’s lashes across her back. THAT! IS! LOVE! I love seeing females step in a save men, so while I hated that it happened to her, I was rooting for her courage and love for Julian. I’m real interested in learning what the ‘curse’ actually is for being romantically involved with your parabatai.
I had no idea that A Long Conversation was at the very end of this book until two weeks after reading Lady Midnight, so it was a nice little surprise. And the cliffhanger…my heart flipped!
Lord of Shadows is my next read so I’m eager to see what happens next for Emma and Julian. Not happy with the ending of this book, but that’s just Cassandra Clare doing what she does best: keeping people who are meant to be together apart.
#6 Untamed written by Glennon Doyle
This novel is like having a personal cheerleader inside a couple hundred pages. I’ll be honest. This book has a way of calling you out on aspects of your life that need some fixin. There were a number of times where the words hit close to home. Glennon Doyle speaks unapologetically and with a straightforward approach that made me feel heard. Yes. A book made me feel heard. And one of the book’s quotes has sunk skin deep.
“We can do hard things” – Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Sometimes, we need wake up calls that remind us of our potential and that life needs to be fully lived. Untamed truly changed 2020 for me. This year has really sucked, but this book gave my soul some much needed love. And if I had to recommend one of these over the rest, it’s this one. This book is a great big hug and the shoulder you need to lean on.
#5 Chain of Gold written by Cassandra Clare
I’ve never read a book by Cassandra Clare and not become obsessed. Maybe it’s my long dying wish to become a shadow hunter. Who knows. But like the rest of her books, Clare’s spell binding words in Chain of Gold (the first in this new series) forced me to stay well up past my bedtime to finish this book.
Set in 1903, Cordelia’s mother is desperate to find her a husband after her father had been accused of a crime. But finding a husband isn’t really on Cordelia’s mind when she moves to London. No. Cordelia has better things to do, like weave through the chaos of London being attacked by demons. Not to mention, she has to keep her feelings for a boy she’s known for years to herself because he’s got eyes for someone else…but when I learned why his eyes aren’t on Cordelia’s (insert shock and then anger here).
But the ending!! I was surprised and thrilled all at once and really can’t wait to see how the twist plays out.
Cassandra Clare has created this vast world of Shadow Hunters that stretches across decades of time. This first installment of her newest series is sure to take fans on a thrilling ride that I’m sure will not disappoint.
The second installment, Chain of Iron, releases in 2021 & you can bet I’ve already got my copy pre-ordered!
#4 Holidaze written by Christina Lauren
This book had me cackling! Oh my goodness. There’s one scene that I unfortunately felt too close to and my fiancé was like…what’s so funny? And when I told him he was like…yeah. That’s you. Out of all the books I read this year, Holidaze is the one I relate to the most.
I thought I’d get annoyed by the repeat of events, but Christina Lauren did such a good job at making each repeated event feel new. And once Maelyn put on some sassy pants and pretty much said “screw it” and starting doing whatever the hell she wanted, I could not put the book down. I found myself wishing I could be like Mae, unapologetically myself and just doing whatever the hell I wanted.
I feel like everyone needs a Benny in their life. He was my favorite side character and I wish he was real, so I could invite him to every family gathering.
This was my first Christmas themed read and I can’t for the life of me understand why. I’ve been against books that involve Christmas cause I feel like they’d be all Hallmark-ish but this book made me order three more Christmas themed novels. Also, if I had to pick on of my Top 10 books to be made into a movie, it’s this one!
#3 The Girl the Sea Gave Back written by Adrienne Young
The Girl the Sea Gave Back was my first read by Adrienne Young and now I’m obsessed with anything she writes. She’s also a great person to follow on Instagram if you love writing and are trying to pursue it as a career.
I felt so bad for Tova in the beginning of this novel. No one should be that confined, but that made me love the ending even more! This novel gave me major Viking vibes. Young is generous with her details which made me feel like I was by Tova’s side the entire journey. The book does start off a little slow, so keep that in mind if you do pick this one up. I promise, the action does pick up and you’ll not want to put it down! And you don’t have to read Sky in the Deep prior to this. Sky in the Deep is ten years prior to The Girl the Sea Gave Back with a new set of characters.
Out of my Top 10, this book has my favorite cover. It’s stunning and also the reason I picked the book up in the first place.
#2 Books 3-8 of the Throne of Glass series written by Sarah J. Maas
I combined all of these into one, because well…I didn’t want 6 of my 10 books coming from one series. If you haven’t read this series, make time! Sarah J. Maas is a gifted writer. She’s a wordsmith that easily creates easy to visualize scenes. Each novel was a page turner, but one of the many reasons I loved this series is how the female, Celaena/Aelin, is not only strong alone, but strong because of those she surrounds herself with. The cast of characters in this series is spectacular. Each one of them stole a piece of my heart. Yes…even Lorcan!
Aelin is a selfless, sarcastic, lethal warrior. I really adored each love story she had. Choal and Dorian were good for her and still to this day cannot choose between the two. At first, I wasn’t a fan of Rowan, but after finishing Heir of Fire I was sold.
Elide Lochan stole the show for me towards the end. Despite her past, she faced every challenge head on and the way she managed to turn Lorcan into a good man!! Elide and Lorcan, aside from Aelin and Rowan, were my favorites.
I did want more from Dorian and Manon, though. I’d be down for their own book. I mean, Choal got Tower of Dawn, so it seems fair right? Ugh…a girl can dream.
Kingdom of Ash was refreshing. Everyone sets out to save Aelin, which I found refreshing. Sarah J. Mass put her protagonist in the hands of the other characters and they did not let her down! I feel like we got to see a more vulnerable side of Aelin towards the end, which made her even stronger.
When I finished this series, I felt so empty. But I’ve added every book Sarah J. Mass has written to my TBR pile for 2021! Hopefully that fills the big hole the Throne of Glass series left on my heart.
And drum roll, pleaseee…..
My number one read of 2020 goes to…
#1 In Five Years written by Rebecca Serle
This book pulled just about every emotion known to mankind right from my body. I’d never had my heart broken in a way In Five Years managed to do. I read a particularly gut wrenching scene while sitting on the edge of my bed and my fiancé walked into the room confused as to why I was crying and I basically ranted about how unfair the scene was as if the characters in the novel were real.
I will say, I was not expecting the novel the play out the way it did and I think that’s why I loved it so much. I’m not sure how I’d react if I somehow got thrusted into my life five years from now for one hour, but Dannie handled it way better than I would.
Love. Friendship. Breaking free from the picture of perfection. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing this sweet book, stop waiting. This book is a treat! I truly loved how the book wrapped up and though it’s a sad ending, it’s my favorite ending in a book, which is why In Five Years claims my number one spot in my heart for 2020 reads.
Below are all 25 of my 2020 reads. And yes…I am reading Harry Potter. For. The. First. Time. Ever. I also listened to two audio books: Greenlights written by Matthew McConaughey and Sober Curious written by Ruby Warrington.