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Our Favorite Reads of 2020

I believe this is new for our “Best Of” week, but I challenged each of our reviewers to pick their favorite release of 2020, whether they reviewed it or not. Some of them weren’t too happy they had to pick just one, though this place would be absolutely lawless if I didn’t make rules!

Here are our favorites of the year! We’d also love to hear about your best read of 2020!

 

  • The Hidden Moon

    The Hidden Moon by Jeannie Lin

    Author: Jeannie Lin
    Released: August 27, 2020 by Jeannie Lin
    Genre: , ,
    Series: The Pingkang Li Mysteries #3

    A well-bred lady and lowly street hustler team up in a historical murder mystery set during China’s glittering Tang Dynasty. Part of the best-selling Lotus Palace series.

    Impetuous and well-educated, young Lady Bai has always been the forgotten daughter between two favored sons. However, when Wei-wei’s older brother is tasked with investigating a high-profile assassination, he turns to his clever younger sister for assistance.

    Gao is a street-wise scoundrel with a checkered past and a shady reputation. He knows better than to set his sights on the high-born Lady Bai, but when she asks for his help, he can’t refuse.

    As the unlikely pair chase down a conspiracy that reaches from the gutters of the capital to the imperial palace, Wei-wei is intent on seeing justice done, while Gao is determined to solve the mystery just for her – even if the attraction between them can never be more than a moment’s longing.

    Aarya: I want it known that I rebuke the concept of choosing ONE favorite book of 2020 (I read nearly 200 books this year! This selection is a special exercise in torture). Since I’m under duress, my pick is The Hidden Moon by Jeannie Lin (*sighs sadly in the direction of Rebecca Roanhorse, Sarah Hogle, and Milla Vane*). I first glommed the Pingkang Li Mysteries and Lin’s other historicals during a frenetic weekend a couple years ago. After reading the 2016 novella The Liar’s Dice, I was devastated to realize Wei-wei’s full-length romance with the scoundrel Gao didn’t exist. At the time, I sent the author fanmail and inquired about Wei-wei and Gao’s book; she replied that she dreamed about writing their story, but was uncertain if it would ever come to fruition since they were an “impossible pairing.” I was crushed. I wanted Wei-wei’s story right in that second. Imagine my surprised delight when Lin announced The Hidden Moon in August 2020. Just when I had lost all hope! The Hidden Moon met my ridiculously high expectations, and is the perfect illustration of why Jeannie Lin is one of my favorite authors. I loved a lot of books this year, but this has a special place in my heart.

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  • You Should See Me in a Crown

    You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

    Author: Leah Johnson
    Released: June 2, 2020 by Scholastic Inc.
    Genre: ,

    Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

    But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

    The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

    Amanda: I was really waffling back and forth on what to pick, but I decided going with the fluffier option is probably for the best. We all need more feel-good, charming reads and this YA debut fit the bit. It’s bubbly and effervescent with a delightful, tenacious heroine you root for right from page one.

    Read Tara’s review!

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  • The Once and Future Witches

    The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

    Author: Alix E. Harrow
    Released: October 13, 2020 by Redhook
    Genre:

    In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

    But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

    There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

    Carrie: I found this book about sisters and female power, set in a fantastical USA in 1893, to be immersive, suspenseful, and inspiring. There were other books I reviewed this year that got higher grades from me but this book, with it’s challenging narrative and impeccable language, has stuck in my head in a “this book changed me for the better” way.

    Read Carrie’s review!

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  • Or What You Will

    Or What You Will by Jo Walton

    Author: Jo Walton
    Released: July 7, 2020 by Tor Books
    Genre:

    Or What You Will is an utterly original novel about how stories are brought forth from Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award-winning author Jo Walton.

    He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god.

    But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. He has played a part in most of those novels, and in the recesses of her mind, Sylvia has conversed with him for years.

    But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.

    Now Sylvia is starting a new novel, a fantasy for adult readers, set in Thalia, the Florence-resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before. Of course he’s got a part in it. But he also has a notion. He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether. All he has to do is convince her.

    Catherine: Like Aarya, I reject the very idea of choosing ONE book to rule them all this year. I read so many novels that I absolutely loved. But I keep finding myself mentally going back to Or What You Will, I think because I read it at a time when things were feeling very bleak here in Melbourne, and it both held my attention and took me completely out of myself. Everything else I’ve enjoyed this year has been very fluffy, which this is most certainly not, but it felt like the holiday I really needed, and Walton’s Firenze/Thalia, with its incredible food, and its genderbending social mores and its Shakespearean characters who are not quite as we know them from the plays is still taking up space in my mind five months after reading it. (And yes, I really did buy seven copies of it as Christmas presents.)

    Read Catherine’s review!

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  • The Lord I Left

    The Lord I Left by Scarlett Peckham

    Author: Scarlett Peckham
    Released: January 27, 2020 by NYLA
    Genre: ,
    Series: The Secrets of Charlotte Street #3

    He’s a minister to whores… She’s a fallen woman…

    Lord Lieutenant Henry Evesham is an evangelical reformer charged with investigating the flesh trade in London. His visits to bawdy houses leave him with a burning desire to help sinners who’ve lost their innocence to vice—even if the temptations of their world test his vow not to lose his moral compass…again.

    As apprentice to London’s most notorious whipping governess, Alice Hull is on the cusp of abandoning her quiet, rural roots for the city’s swirl of provocative ideas and pleasures—until a family tragedy upends her dreams and leaves her desperate to get home. When the handsome, pious Lord Lieutenant offers her a ride despite the coming blizzard, she knows he is her best chance to reach her ailing mother—even if she doesn’t trust him.

    He has the power to destroy her… She has the power to undo him…

    As they struggle to travel the snow-swept countryside, they find their suspicion of each other thawing into a longing that leaves them both shaken. Alice stirs Henry’s deepest fantasies, and he awakens parts of her she thought she’d foresworn years ago. But Henry is considering new regulations that threaten the people Alice holds dear, and association with a woman like Alice would threaten Henry’s reputation if he allowed himself to get too close.

    Is falling for the wrong person a test of faith …or a chance at unimagined grace?

    Claudia: Perhaps it is not surprising this was an early 2020 read; later in the year, several books definitely deserved more attention than I could give them. I enjoyed the funny and tender moments in this book and it had some of my favorite setups in romance.

    Read Claudia’s review!

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  • The Silence of Bones

    The Silence of Bones by June Hur

    Author: June Hur
    Released: April 21, 2020 by Feiwel & Friends
    Genre: , ,

    June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody YA historical mystery tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

    I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
    Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
    Eyes, but I mustn’t see.

    1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

    As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.

    But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

    Ellen: Anyone keeping up with my reviews probably won’t be surprised by this pick, but this layered, poetic historical mystery has stuck in my mind for months. One of the most moving, thought-provoking, and well-crafted books I’ve ever read.

    Read Ellen’s review!

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  • Bitterburn

    Bitterburn by Ann Aguirre

    Author: Ann Aguirre
    Released: October 31, 2020
    Genre: , , ,
    Series: Gothic Fairytales #1

    Amarrah Brewer is desperate and grief-stricken.

    For ages, the town of Bitterburn has sent tribute to the Keep at the End of the World, but a harsh winter leaves them unable to pay the toll that keeps the Beast at bay. Amarrah volunteers to brave what no one has before—to end the threat or die trying.

    The Beast of Bitterburn has lost all hope.

    One way or another, Njål has been a prisoner for his entire life. Monstrous evil has left him trapped and lonely, and he believes that will never change. There is only darkness in his endless exile, never light. Never warmth. Until she arrives.

    It’s a tale as old as time… where Beauty goes to confront the Beast and falls in love instead.

    Elyse: This is hands down my favorite adaption of Beauty and the Beast. It keeps all of the elements I love–like the library and the Gothic castle, but gives the heroine far more agency.

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  • Strange Love

    Strange Love by Ann Aguirre

    Author: Ann Aguirre
    Released: January 15, 2020
    Genre: ,
    Series: Galactic Love #1

    He’s awkward. He’s adorable. He’s alien as hell.

    Zylar of Kith Balak is a four-time loser in the annual Choosing. If he fails to find a nest guardian this time, he’ll lose his chance to have a mate for all time. Desperation drives him to try a matching service but due to a freak solar flare and a severely malfunctioning ship AI, things go way off course. This ‘human being’ is not the Tiralan match he was looking for.

    She’s frazzled. She’s fierce. She’s from St. Louis.

    Beryl Bowman’s mother always said she’d never get married. She should have added a rider about the husband being human. Who would have ever thought that working at the Sunshine Angel daycare center would offer such interstellar prestige? She doesn’t know what the hell’s going on, but a new life awaits on Barath Colony, where she can have any alien bachelor she wants.

    They agree to join the Choosing together, but love is about to get seriously strange.

    Maya: Ann Aguirre party!!!! I just read this and I love it so much. I also met a dog right after I read Strange Love that reminded me of the dog in the book. Much like the doggy in the book, he is the sweetest boy!! But anyway, a love story about two individuals whose strengths were not recognized as being valuable by the societies they came from, but were immediately seen by their partners as being wonderful was really reasonate for me. Also, I loved the side story of REVENGE.

    Read Elyse’s review!

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  • Network Effect

    Network Effect by Martha Wells

    Author: Martha Wells
    Released: May 5, 2020 by Tor.com
    Genre:
    Series: The Murderbot Diaries #5

    You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you’re a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you’re Murderbot.

    I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

    When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

    Drastic action it is, then.

    Sarah: Given how many times I’ve re-read the series and this book, this is not a surprise. Murderbot got me through 2020, no question. And as Hapax pointed out in the comments, this is indeed an aromantic asexual romantic suspense novel. With aliens. And snark.

    Read Sarah’s review!

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  • Take a Hint, Dani Brown

    Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

    Author: Talia Hibbert
    Released: June 23, 2020 by Avon
    Genre: ,
    Series: The Brown Sisters #2

    Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…

    Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

    When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

    Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

    Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

    Shana: I’m extremely glad this book exists. It’s sweet. It’s charming. It likes to replay as a movie in my head (why has no one optioned it yet?!?!)

    Read Maya’s review!

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  • The Duke Who Didn’t

    The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan

    Author: Courtney Milan
    Released: September 22, 2020
    Genre: ,
    Series: Wedgeford Trials #1

    Miss Chloe Fong has plans for her life, lists for her days, and absolutely no time for nonsense. Three years ago, she told her childhood sweetheart that he could talk to her once he planned to be serious. He disappeared that very night.

    Except now he’s back. Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, has returned to the tiny village he once visited with the hope of wooing Chloe. In his defense, it took him years of attempting to be serious to realize that the endeavor was incompatible with his personality.

    All he has to do is convince Chloe to make room for a mischievous trickster in her life, then disclose that in all the years they’ve known each other, he’s failed to mention his real name, his title… and the minor fact that he owns her entire village.

    Only one thing can go wrong: Everything.

    Sneezy: This book made me feel seen and transcendent in a way few books do. It reflected my experiences with culture, place, and being racialized. I especially appreciated how delicious the food was, and how it was used in the story. This story was incredibly sharp, gave all the catnip and none of the trite grit, and flounced with effervescent glee away from the typical romance plot line.

    Read Catherine’s review!

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  • The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea

    The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

    Author: Maggie Tokuda-Hall
    Released: May 5, 2020 by Candlewick Press
    Genre: , ,

    A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

    Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

    Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.

    Tara: I am joining Aarya and Catherine in their protest, since there were four books this year that were standouts for me. However, rules are rules, so I’m rolling with the one that I gave the highest grade. The Mermaid, the Witch and The Sea does so many things well. I love how queer it is with lesbians and nonbinary characters (and even more than one way to be nonbinary!). The world-building is spectacular and I especially love the central message that we all get to write our own stories.

    Read Tara’s review!

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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    SusanH says:

    This isn’t as hard for me as usual since I read so few new releases this year. It was the year of rereading and blacklists.

    It isn’t a romance, but my top read was The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I loved the writing and the focus on art, memory, and mortality.

    My favorite romance was Ilona Andrews’ Emerald Blaze, but it’s the fifth book in one of my favorite series. I definitely don’t recommend starting with it, as you would miss a lot of important character development and world building.

  2. 2
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    I wish I could list all ten of my favorite 2020 reads (actually there are 14, if you count the four books that were published before 2020 but that I only read this year), but I’ll try to stick to the rules and only offer my absolute favorite book of 2020. Even then I’m cheating a little bit because it’s the three books of N.R. Walker’s Missing Pieces Trilogy (PIECES OF YOU, PIECES OF ME, PIECES OF US), but since they tell one overarching story (two men in a long-term relationship and what happens when one of them is severely injured in an accident and loses all memory of his partner) I’m counting them as one book. A beautifully-written story about ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges and meeting them with decency, grace, and love.

  3. 3
    squee_me says:

    For me it’s a tie between The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham and The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan. Heroines I can relate to and beta heroes. I loved both of these books so much!

  4. 4
    MirandaB says:

    My favorite was Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. There was some info-dumping, but the gloriousness that was El overcame it.

  5. 5
    Kate says:

    I read Hibbert’s Brown Sisters 1&2 earlier in the year; they’re smart & fun! She has a Christmas Kobo exclusive ebook & audiobook called TANGLED UP IN YOU, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ve been working on THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES and was really enjoying it, but then my sweet kitty collapsed during a vet appointment and I lost her. It’s hard to focus on reading now, while I’m haunted by the what ifs.

  6. 6
    MirandaB says:

    I’m very sorry about your kitty.

  7. 7
    Carrie G says:

    Bitterburn looks good. I’m adding that.

    If I had to pick one book published this year that made the biggest impression it would be Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall, and narrated by Joe Jameson. Laugh out loud funny, poignant, sexy, and with a perfect narration.

    Runner-ups include Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by LorettaChase, narrated by Kate Reading
    A Dangerous Kind of Lady by Mia Vincy and narrated by Kate Reading (I mean, she’s fabulous!)
    And the Annette Marie Guild Codex: Spellbound and Guild Codex: Demonica series.

  8. 8
    Sue the Bookie says:

    Neither a romance but a tie between SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James and ARCTIC FURY by Greer MacAllister. Both brave heroines who go into the unknown to solve a disappearance.

  9. 9
    Qualisign says:

    @CarrieG. Ditto to everything!

  10. 10
    Penny says:

    @Kate I’m so sorry for your loss. When my kitty died of mammary cancer a few years ago I felt haunted by what if’s too – what if I’d noticed the bump sooner (she did not like belly rubs, so I’d no idea how long it had been present), what if I’d brought her to a different vet… I mourned her like I would a sister. I still miss her. Our connection to our animal companions are real and the grief is real, don’t let anyone minimize it. Hugs.

  11. 11
    Penny says:

    “(And yes, I really did buy seven copies of it as Christmas presents.)“

    @Catherine – do you want to be friends??

    I really got into audiobooks this year. My eyes are just so tired sometimes… anyway, I’ve found I have a different favorite audiobook vs ebook (is this cheating? Maybe so!)

    Audiobook: CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo. I feel like this book is best heard rather than read. The rhythms of the words as spoken are beautiful. Plus it’s a lot easier to ugly cry and still get through the end while listening.

    Ebook: I’ve been working through my TBR and my favorite this year is an older one by Alyssa Cole – A PRINCE ON PAPER. I just really appreciated Nya’s arc, living in the aftermath of physical and emotional parental abuse. She’s a complicated character and I really enjoyed her story. The book has some issues (the mashup of French and German that Johan speaks is super distracting for example), but Nya resonated for me.

  12. 12
    Kate says:

    @MirandaB @Penny Thank you so much for your kind and understanding words.

  13. 13
    Lisa F says:

    Dani Brown, The Lord I Left and You Should See Me In a Crown are all excellent!

    My condolences, @Kate!

  14. 14
    Lake says:

    Devil’s Day Party by CM Stunich.

    The Groundhog Day premise is one I normally do not like at all, and I am so-so on books about high school students so I read it mainly because I like most of the author’s other work as light reading, but this one ended up being my favorite book of the year, the only one I wrote a Goodreads review for. From that review:

    This book transcended all the things I usually dislike about the high school setting and the plot premise, turned all the weaknesses into strengths.

    The story has heart, exploring how we make connections with people among the flawed pieces of what happens when young adults fall in love, deal with parents and siblings, struggle to be honest with friends, work to find their place in their own lives.

  15. 15
    TinaNoir says:

    My Favorites this year –

    IF I NEVER MET YOU – by Mhairi McFarlane – fun writing. Interesting characters with layers. Dry British humor. Fake dating. And a heroine who reacts to stuff like a real life person not a book person.

    SMOKE BITTEN – By Patricia Briggs – Clever plotting. A lot going on but all wrapped up great. Intriguing, unexpected development from last book. Opens up new questions about old characters.

    SWEEP WITH ME – By Illona Andrews – They remain the best at packing a LOT of story into a novella.

    PALADIN’S GRACE – by T. Kingfisher – Such. Great. Humor. I love humor in romance and it is a surprising rarity. This was a delightful surprise.

    JUST A HEARTBEAT AWAY – by Cara Bastone – Nice, meaty age gap romance that was sexy and had a great story.

  16. 16
    Darlynne says:

    A tough, tough choice, rules are rules (also meant to be broken, but I will not contribute to potential lawlessness). So:

    SET MY HEART TO FIVE by Simon Stephenson. Sweet baby Jebus, this book made my heart sing and rejoice in a way I’d thought gone forever. Rediscovering the beauty of emotions through the lived experience of an android in a not-so-far-off future was an antidote and vaccine to everything that ailed me, i.e., 2020. As a result, I vow to use more exclamation marks in my writing (mostly in my head) and to remember what wonder feels like. Ha! Humans! I cannot!

  17. 17
    BrandiD says:

    I could barely get through any books this year (ironic, given how little I’ve been doing) and so few of them stuck with me that I had to go back into my online backlist to see what I had read. However, the one that made the strongest impression — so strong that I bought it in hardback — was The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Something about the fairy tale setting, the vignettes, the story circling back in on itself again and again….it all really worked for me.

    Hugs @Kate, our cats are family and it’s so hard when they leave us.

  18. 18
    Kareni says:

    A 2020 non-romance: V.E. Svhwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
    A 2020 romance: Leonie Mack’s My Christmas Number One which @DDD had recommended.
    Most reread book in 2020 (but not released therein) is SK Dunstall’s Linesman.

  19. 19
    Kareni says:

    Hmm,the above should be V.E. Schwab.

  20. 20

    […] Our Favorite Reads of 2020 – Smart Bitches Trashy Books […]

  21. 21
    Bona says:

    Just one? HEADLINERS by Lucy Parker

  22. 22
    Susan/DC says:

    As always, when forced to choose I go back and forth and miss deadlines as I dawdle, but I think my favorite 2020 book is “Love Lettering” by Kate Clayborn. I adored Reid, the hero, intense and brilliant, and watching him fall in love made me believe in Romance (definitely with the capital R) all over again. The book is also a love letter to aspects of New York City, and I appreciated it all the more after the devastation of the corona virus. Many other excellent books were published in 2020, but this one was a January release, and, as they say, you always remember your first.

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