BEST BOOKS OF 2020
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2020 was a great year for books. I read and listened to so many new authors. And many have become auto-buy authors and I couldn’t be more happy about it. It’s also the year I read the most diverse of any years, and it’s something I want to continue. Because as you can see below, many of these diverse books made it on my “best of 2020” list. And I hope you’ll give them a chance if you haven’t already read them.
But 2020 is also the year I re-read the most. It was an exhausting year for me and re-reading keeps me sane. I also had the least amount of 5 star books this year, only seven. BUT instead of just making a list of seven books, I decided to include all the books that were this close to becoming re-reads. And every single book, from the list below, deserves a spot on my bookshelf.
So, from me to you – my most heartfelt book recommendations. Read them, enjoy them, and maybe recommend them yourself.
So, let’s get started with the BEST BOOKS OF 2020:
FIVE STAR READS
Wild at Heart (Wild, #2) by K.A. Tucker
This book is probably my most favorite book of the year. I’ve already read it THREE times – February, April and in September. And I still can’t get enough of Jonah and Calla. It’s not easy to find a couple that works this well for me. So, if you like me, and enjoy a wonderful romantic and emotional romance set in Alaska – you better grab yourself a copy.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: THE SIMPLE WILD | WILD AT HEART | FOREVER WILD
Calla Fletcher returns to Toronto a different person, struggling to find direction and still very much in love with the rugged bush pilot she left behind. When Jonah arrives on her doorstep with a proposition she can’t dismiss, she takes the leap and rushes back to Alaska to begin their exciting future together.
But Calla soon learns that even the best intentions can lead to broken promises, and that compromise comes with a hefty price—a log cabin in interior rural Alaska that feels as isolating as the western tundra.
With Jonah gone more than he’s home, one neighbor who insists on transforming her into a true Alaskan, and another who seems more likely to shoot her than come to her aid, Calla grapples with forging her own path. In a world with roaming wildlife that has her constantly watching over her shoulder and harsh conditions that stretch far beyond the cold, dark, winter months, just stepping outside her front door can be daunting.
This is not the future Calla had in mind, leaving her to fear that perhaps she is doomed to follow in her mother’s fleeing footsteps after all.
Fortuity by Jewel E. Ann
Jewel E Ann is the author who gave me LOOK THE PART, the one romance that I would give 6 stars if I could. So, getting another gem from her was unexpected. My expectations were zero, which made this book an even better surprise. I loved it all. Wonderful writing, and a beautiful story.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: FORTUITY | LOOK THE PART
Forty-something Gracelyn Glock is living the dream.
No retirement plan.
And since her self-imposed man-ban—no need to shave above her knees.
After a tragic accident, Gracelyn inherits her ten-year-old nephew. She signs a lease on a San Diego beach house and learns their neighbors for the summer are a sexy anatomy professor and his young daughter.
Professor Nathaniel Hunt has spent the last decade being a single dad … and not having sex.
So when he discovers Gracelyn has a peculiar outdoor stripping ritual, a million inappropriate thoughts fill his responsible mind.
When kisses are stolen, man-bans are broken, and summer comes to an end, will hearts stay in one piece and hope stay alive? Or will saying goodbye destroy everything?
A standalone contemporary romance.
Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon
This book was one amazing read!! If you never read her books, or an historical romance before, this book will blow your mind!! Incredibly well researched and beautifully written. There is a reason why her books are so popular and well regarded, but this one is my favorite of all, besides the YA novel Making Faces.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: WHERE THE LOST WANDER | MAKING FACES
In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.
The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.
But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.
When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary
I didn’t expect to love The Switch as much as I did her debut novel The Flatshare. But the one thing I realized while reading The Switch was that I really LOVE the author’s writing. I adore the way she writes stories with ordinary people. And for someone who loves witty dialogues, her books are cat nip. It doesn’t matter what the book is about, she makes me smile and laugh. Her books are down to earth, sweet, endearing, charmingly British and just plain adorable. I’m so looking forward to her next book, as I said I don’t even care what it is about.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: THE SWITCH | THE FLATSHARE
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
This was the first book I ever read that was written in free verse, and it will always have a special spot in my heart!! Few words, but incredibly powerful!! The audiobook was amazing, narrated by the author himself. It gave me goosebumps and made me tear up. It was such an amazing book, with all these emotions packed in a beautifully formatted book.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: LONG WAY DOWN
A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he?
As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator?
Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.
And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.
Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.
She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey
I don’t often read non-fiction, but the few I read so far left HUGE impressions on me. She Said as well as Catch and Kill should be read, just because the #METOO movement is happening RIGHT NOW. It’s eye opening, surreal, and hard to imagine that this is actually possible.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: SHE SAID | CATCH AND KILL
On October 5, 2017, the New York Times published an article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey–and then the world changed. For months Kantor and Twohey had been having confidential discussions with top actresses, former Weinstein employees and other sources, learning of disturbing long-buried allegations, some of which had been covered up by onerous legal settlements. The journalists meticulously picked their way through a web of decades-old secret payouts and nondisclosure agreements, pressed some of the most famous women in the world–and some unknown ones–to risk going on the record, and faced down Weinstein, his team of high-priced defenders, and even his private investigators.
But nothing could have prepared them for what followed the publication of their Weinstein story. Within days, a veritable Pandora’s Box of sexual harassment and abuse was opened, and women who had suffered in silence for generations began coming forward, trusting that the world would understand their stories. Over the next twelve months, hundreds of men from every walk of life and industry would be outed for mistreating their colleagues. But did too much change–or not enough? Those questions plunged the two journalists into a new phase of reporting and some of their most startling findings yet.
With superlative detail, insight, and journalistic expertise, Kantor and Twohey take us for the first time into the very heart of this social shift, reliving in real-time what it took to get the story and giving an up-close portrait of the forces that hindered and spurred change. They describe the surprising journeys of those who spoke up–for the sake of other women, for future generations, and for themselves–and so changed us all.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
This memoir was probably one of the BEST I ever listened to. I laughed so much, and although the topics weren’t all light hearted, but the way the author told them will always endear me to him. He narrated the book in a genuine way. And his humor was right up my alley. I think I was listening with a big smile on my face for most of the book. It deserves ALL THE STARS!!!
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: BORN A CRIME
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.
BEST BOOKS OF 2020
Here are the other books that are highly recommendable:
BEST ROMANCE BOOKS
Rich Prick by Tijan
There is really no rhyme nor reason when it comes to me falling in love with certain romance books. All I can say is that they just work. And Rick Prick worked for me. Lots of NA drama, with a grumpy alpha hero, some insta lust, and a shy heroine who catches his eye. Sometimes I’m really not picky when it comes to this kind of entertainment – lol.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: RICH PRICK A Shy Girl Bad Boy Sports Romance
He walked into school on his first day and owned it.
I guess that’s what happens when you’re a prick, rich, and you’re best friends with the ruling school’s king.
Also didn’t hurt he’s drop dead gorgeous.
That’s all fine.
I mean, I have nothing to do with them.
I’m a loner, invisible, and that’s how I wanted it to be.
I was even proud of it, until I wasn’t.
Until I saw a girl kneel before him.
iUntil I couldn’t look away.
Until he caught me watching.
His name is Blaise Devroe. My name is Aspen Monson.
He only knew how to get, command, and demand attention. I knew how to do everything but that.
And this is our story.
When the Time Is Right by M. Mabie, Aly Martinez
I don’t ready very many friends to lovers romances but I’m so happy that I picked this one up. Well written, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. If you haven’t read any books by Aly Martinez yet, her The Darkest Sunrise duet was a 5 star for me – SO GOOD!!!
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT | THE DARKEST SUNRISE
Fate doesn’t always happen overnight.
Hudson Bradley is the cockiest, most stubborn, hard-headed man I’ve ever known. And for fifteen years, he’s been my brother’s best friend.
But lately, what I’m feeling for him isn’t friendship at all.
Why is my heart racing every time his blue eyes lock on mine?
Why does every word he rumbles in my ear make my body come alive?
And worst of all, why did I bet him that I could find a woman he and his son would both love?
If I hadn’t given up on love altogether, Hudson would have been perfect for me. After all, he was there the day my world fell apart. He’s spent the last six years piecing me back together.
There are a million reasons why we could never work, but after a single kiss, I can’t remember any of them.
Now that the time is right, I have to make him mine—before I lose him forever.
Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover
I’ve only recently started having luck when it comes to Colleen Hoover books. It started with Regretting You, which I totally fell in love with. It was my first 5 star book by the author, but Heart Bones was almost as good. I love a good YA novel, and Heart Bones was all kinds of emotional, but also gave me all the beach vibes I’m loving. I’m so looking forward to her upcoming books, especially if they are romance novels.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: HEART BONES | REGRETTING YOU
Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah Grim’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself.
With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim. Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan.
Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface.
She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. Which means they’re drawn to each other. With an almost immediate connection too intense for them to continue denying, Beyah and Samson agree to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling. What Beyah doesn’t realize is that a rip current is coming, and it’s about to drag her heart out to sea.
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis
I’m a big fan of British romances, and Dear Emmie Blue was probably one of my favorite this year, next to The Switch and Boyfriend Material. It was charming, heart-warming, and emotional – the trifecta of romance. The love story was sweet and well done. It was much more emotional than expected but I loved what the author did with it, and will keep my eyes on the author.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: DEAR EMMIE BLUE
At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.
Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job.And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?
Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans?
Fatal Fraud by Marie Force
I LOVE this series with all my heart! I’m a huge fan of power couples. A couple that goes through thick and thin and only becomes stronger throughout the series. And I can guarantee, that you will fall in love with Sam and Nick’s love story. They have this amazing connection and I just love their family and friends. I drop whatever I read for a new FATAL book.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: FATAL FRAUD | FATAL AFFAIR – BOOK ONE
A dangerous truth revealed…
A prominent member of the D.C. community has been murdered, pulling Lieutenant Sam Holland into yet another high-stakes homicide investigation that has her trying to connect the dots between a dead woman and the friends and family who’d turned against her right before her untimely death.
With numerous scandals still fresh within the department’s ranks, Sam is asked to revisit a cold case from her first year on the job that will continue the department’s reckoning with the past well into the future.
All the while, Sam’s husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano, faces mounting pressure to declare his intention to run for president in the coming election, leaving the second couple feeling the strain at home—and on the job as the family endures the first holidays without their beloved patriarch, Skip Holland.
As always, when things become too hot to handle on the job, Sam and Nick turn to each other for solace in the storm.
On the Wings of War by Hailey Turner
For the record: I’m a HUGE fan of Urban Fantasy (thanks to Ilona Andrews) and I’m also a HUGE MM romance fan (check out my best of list here), and this series is the best possible combo of both of these genres. I love the author’s writing, which is key!!! And I love a charismatic couple that grows with each book. Throw in some mystical creatures. Lots of action and an amazing cast of characters. And I got myself an auto-buy series. IT’S SO GOOD!!!!
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: ON THE WINGS OF WAR | A FERRY OF BONES & GOLD – BOOK ONE ( currently free)
Remembering the dead will always give them life.
The coveted Morrígan’s staff is up for sale on the black market to the highest bidder, and SOA Special Agent Patrick Collins will do whatever it takes to ensure the Dominion Sect doesn’t get their hands on it. Returning the weapon to its rightful owner is another step on the long road toward clearing Patrick’s soul debt, but he won’t walk it alone. Jonothon de Vere won’t let him.
Obeying the gods means Patrick must travel to London. For Jono, it means facing a past he thought he’d left behind forever. His return to England isn’t welcome, and neither is their pack, but Jono and Patrick will face the antagonism together. Politics aside, their priority must be the mission, but the bone-chilling secret they uncover in the London god pack will have far-reaching repercussions no one can ignore.
A race against time takes Patrick and Jono from the streets of London to the bright lights of Paris, where hospitality is thin on the ground, the air is filled with whispered prayers for the missing, and the Morrígan’s staff will end up in the one place it should never have gone—a graveyard.
For beneath Paris lie the long-forgotten dead, and when they rise to walk again, the living can only hope to die.
Age of Deception by T.A. White
I love anything with romance in it, and if it’s not fantasy, science fiction works as well. Especially if the author writes one epic tale!! I found this author while researching online, and although she has a couple different series, this one is by far her BEST!!! I’m hooked!! And I also feel that the books are only getting better. Complex, layered, and never boring – this series will please anyone interested in fantasy and science fiction.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOKS: AGE OF DECEPTION | RULES OF REDEMPTION – BOOK ONE
War hero and daughter to two Houses, Kira is just beginning to learn how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Agreeing to accompany her father’s people back to their homeworld, Kira Forrest prepares for the fight of her life. She’s agreed to undertake the Trial of the Broken, a rite of passage every member of her father’s House must pass. It offers a path to independence and freedom that is too tempting to deny.
Not everyone welcomes this lost daughter of Roake. There are those who fear what her presence might bring to light. Betrayal stalks the halls of Kira’s birthplace—its roots embedded deep in the events that claimed her parent’s lives and set her on her current path.
Walking the wire’s edge between truth and deception will test the person Kira has become as she separates ally from betrayer. An old enemy has put into motion a plan that could topple the balance of power in the universe. Letting them succeed spells doom—but the price might be more than Kira is willing to pay.
BEST BOOKS OF 2020
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
I love a good memoir. I might not read a lot, but the few I read have been excellent, and Open Book is one of those that deserve a spot on my bookshelf. And I just loved how open the author was about her struggles. The memoir was candid, fresh and engaging. And BTW the audiobook was narrated by Jessica Simpson herself and she did a fantastic job. All in all this memoir makes a great gift for Christmas, and it’s a book the author can be proud of.
Jessica tells of growing up in 1980s Texas where she was sexually abused by the daughter of a family friend, and of unsuccessfully auditioning for the Mickey Mouse Club at age 13 with Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling before going on to sign a record deal with Columbia and marrying 98 Degrees member Nick Lachey.
Along the way, she details the struggles in her life, such as the pressure to support her family as a teenager, divorcing Lachey, enduring what she describes as an emotionally abusive relationship with musician John Mayer, being body-shamed in an overly appearance-centered industry, and going through bouts of heavy drinking. But Simpson ends on a positive note, discussing her billion-dollar apparel line and marriage with professional football star Eric Johnson, with whom she has three children.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
I’ve read some amazing books this year, and All Boys Aren’t Blue was one of them. A memoir that is incredibly powerful, honest and raw at times. It opened my eyes, and I feel like reading it made me a better person. Also, this one and Felix Ever After are the two books I talked about the most this year. Both were just amazing!!!
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE | FELIX EVER AFTER
In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Bluecovers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.
BEST BOOKS OF 2020
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin
Without a doubt the BEST thriller I read this year! Not only was the book captivating to no end, I actually listened to the entire audiobook in one day. But the audiobook was also one of the BEST this year. The format and combination of crime podcast and rape trial coverage made this book unputdownable. MUST READ if you are ok with triggers.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: THE NIGHT SWIM
After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.
The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago.
Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.
Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Another book that was just perfect as audiobook. With all the different medias, interviews, phone calls and texts, the format of audiobook was done to perfection. And it didn’t hurt that the story was also very well done. A YA thriller that kept me glued to my phone and has me looking forward to a sequel.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER
Everyone in Fairview knows the story.
Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.
But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?
Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.
This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.
Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
Wow, this book NEEDS to be turned into a movie!! It was SO GOOD!!! Atmospheric, incredibly well written, captivating and just different! It’s being compared to “Ocean’s Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist” and that’s exactly how it felt. If you are interested in something different, this is the book to read.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: BLACKTOP WASTELAND
Beauregard “Bug” Montage is an honest mechanic, a loving husband, and a hard-working dad. Bug knows there’s no future in the man he used to be: known from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida as the best wheelman on the East Coast.
He thought he’d left all that behind him, but as his carefully built new life begins to crumble, he finds himself drawn inexorably back into a world of blood and bullets. When a smooth-talking former associate comes calling with a can’t-miss jewelry store heist, Bug feels he has no choice but to get back in the driver’s seat. And Bug is at his best where the scent of gasoline mixes with the smell of fear.
Haunted by the ghost of who he used to be and the father who disappeared when he needed him most, Bug must find a way to navigate this blacktop wasteland…or die trying.
Like Ocean’s Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist, S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is a searing, operatic story of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race, and his own former life of crime.
BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOKS
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
2020 was the year to explore new authors for me. And falling in love with Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing was something I did easily. I listened to THREE of her books this year, and this one is my favorite. But I must say the other two, POET X and Clap when You Land were also very good. I can only recommend this book, it’s a sweet story, thoughtful, beautifully writing, and one of these feel good novels that will leave you with a smile. Also, it will make you HUNGRY.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH
With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.
Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
WOW, another book that was exceptional!!! Beautiful. Thought provoking. Heart warming and fun! I can’t recommend this one enough. The book was real, honest, eye opening, sweet, and enchanting. And again, I had the feeling that I learned something from this book.
☞ REVIEW | GET THE BOOK: FELIX EVER AFTER
Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune
This might have been the funniest book I listened to this year. I still remember how I walked each morning, listening to the audiobook and laughed my butt off. I was lucky I was the only one on the trail, because it would have been embarrassing. This cute and unique YA novel was just the right thing during the pandemic. It’s a funny mashup between fanfic and super hero novel, and it worked!!
Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.
Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?
After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).
BEST BOOKS OF 2020