Favorite Books of 2020


Long Bright River by Liz Moore
This was one of the first books I read last year and the utterly suspenseful and human story of two sisters with divergent lives.
Original review here.

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
Such an impressive debut from Wetmore, I think Valentine deserves a bit more hype! It's pretty bleak, but perfect if you love a tense and compelling read.
Original review here.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
I escaped into this fantasy series last year, reading all four books, which is something I never do. If I DO read a series, I usually take my time. These books were such fun, and ACOMAF was definitely my favorite of the bunch.
Original review here.

Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Over the years I've been discovering how much I love graphic memoirs and Jacob's book was such a unique take on the genre with her collage inspired depictions of her life. The way she uses color and repeating pictures is so clever, and the writing is beautiful.
Original review here.

Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann
Speaking of graphic novels, this was my favorite kids read this year by a mile. This book takes on all kinds of issues around the stigma of menstruation and was so uplifting and empowering. A must read.
Original review here.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Yes, I am late to this party! I understand now! I love, love, love a book that turns everything on it's head with an amazing ending. It left me breathless, and enraged, but mostly in awe.
Original review here.

Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia
Thrillers or horror are not normally my thing, but the buzz around this book had me so curious. I'm SO GLAD I read Mexican Gothic! So atmospheric, creepy, and with a great build up to a completely nutty ending that had my jaw on the floor. Such a fun ride.
Original review here.

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
This was definitely the best nonfiction book I read this year. Raw and eye-opening. A must read.
Original review here.
The hype was REAL with this book! I flew through the pages of this lovely story of an immortal woman who will never be remembered.
Original review here.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Last book of the year and one of the best books of the year! I loved The Mothers by Brit Bennett, too, and this one did not disappoint. A great story with thoughtful layers on what it means to be our authentic self.
Original review here.


December Book Reviews


Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis
“She’d never lived in such a place before; the freedom dizzied her. It was strange, she thought, how you could live all your life in a home defined by people who loved you and took care of you and shared ancestors with you and yet did not entirely see you, people whom you protected by hiding yourself.”
This novel about a queer group of women who establish a home together, literally and figuratively, during the dictatorship in 1970s Uruguay was just beautiful and heartbreaking.
I am really glad that I waited until after our elections here in the US to start reading it, because it is quite terrifying how Uruguay went from a modern democratic society to a fascist rule (and back again). Definitely an eye opening read on that front, but mostly this was an epic character driven story about friendships and how they grow and change. I wanted to reach out and embrace each of these women, they felt so authentic. If a novel that follows beloved characters through decades of heartbreak and triumph appeals, definitely pick up Cantoras.

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Adding my Holidaze post to the pile that has been all over the ‘gram! If you saw my book stack thoughts last week wherein I was hesitating on this one, I obviously went ahead and let curiosity get the better of me. The reviews seem to be all over the place, and it also seems that people are are all over the place on their CLo favorites! I have only read two of their books, one I loved (Love and Other Words) and one that I felt was meh (Josh and Hazel) if that helps give context for my thoughts on Holidaze.
I guess I have a soft spot for the childhood friend turned romantic interest, because I actually ended up enjoying this one! A lot of folks had issues with the time loop theme, but I thought it served the story, and the impetus for Maelyn’s decisions, very well. It reminded me of Groundhog Day of course, but also of the very excellent Netflix show Russian Doll, and Before I Fall: a fantastic YA novel by Lauren Oliver. Though, that book is NOT light in tone. Holidaze was a perfectly fun and light holiday romance, and I’m glad I dove in.
The second in the Bridgerton series is just as entertaining as the first. Julia Quinn does a fantastic job with setting a scene, witty and humorous banter, and most importantly, empathetic characters. I really felt for Anthony and Kate, especially as someone who lost a parent at a young age.
I have a love/hate relationship with great book series. Like Louise Penny, it’s wonderful to have a trove of reliably great books to read. But on the other hand, finding the balance of not binging and fitting in ALL THE BOOKS is painful.
This book seemed to come out of nowhere to win the Goodreads Choice award for fiction, and I’m glad I finally read it! It’s a lovely, albeit melancholy, novel about a character who gets the opportunity to explore the parallel lives she could have lived, while in a sort of purgatory after attempting suicide. So, fair warning on that front.
I found the idea of fixing past regrets and trying on different lives so compelling, and flew through this relatively short book, curious to see where Nora’s choices would take her. But somewhere along the way, I realized that I wanted more depth than breadth from the story. I mean, the existential themes of the book are DEEP, but my connection to the main character and her relationships were not. Although, one of the things I think Nora has to learn is that she needs to live for herself and not others, so delving into her relationships was not the focus. For me as a reader, a novel focused mostly on plot and messaging makes for a REALLY GOOD read, but not a GREAT one.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama
The longest it’s taken me to read an audiobook is now six weeks! But this behemoth, with another to come (!), was worth it and did not feel like a slog at all.
What can I add to the discussion on A Promised Land!? It’s deserving of all the accolades. I found that it bounced nicely between the political and personal, and there’s something for everyone - whether it’s foreign policy, environmental issues, or family life in the White House. Obama moves seamlessly through myriad of subject matter.
I am always glad to listen to the audiobook when the author narrates, and the emotion comes through in this memoir. I was especially moved when he talks about climate, as well as the anecdote about coaching his daughter’s basketball team.
I think I enjoyed Becoming a smidge more, probably because I could identify with Michelle more easily. But I miss Mom and Dad equally, and it was a joy to listen to his soothing ‘everything is gonna be okay voice’ for the last months of 2020. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
“You don’t have to explain anything to me,” she would say. “it’s your life.”
“But it’s not,” Stella would say. “None of it belongs to me.“
“Well, you chose it,” Loretta would tell her. “So that makes it yours.“
Last book review from 2020! And this is one of the reasons why I do not post my favorites of the year until well into January.
I was quite confident that I was going to love The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. The Mothers landed on my favorite books of 2016 - I even got to meet the author and get my book signed that year! And, of course, all of the reviews are glowing, rightly so.
The story of twin light-skinned Black women, one deciding to ‘pass’ as white, and how it reverberates with their daughters was propulsive, gorgeously written, and so thought-provoking. What does it even mean to be white? Aren’t we all playing a part in our daily lives? The way Bennett layers these ideas with each and every character is fantastic. I don’t know how much more praise I can add to the pile other than to absolutely recommend picking it up, and share another favorite quote...
“Her death hit in waves. Not a flood, but water lapping steadily at her ankles. You could drown in two inches of water. Maybe grief was the same.”