My Top 10 Books Of 2020

I had to wait for the last minute to make this list because I’ve read SO MANY good books this year and they just keep coming! I wish I could include them all, but unfortunately, that’s not how these lists work! These are the top 10 books I read this year that I’d recommend adding to your TBR pile:

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

1) Hollow Kingdom

This one was a HUGE departure from what I normally read, but I loved it so much! It made me laugh, cry, and think.

In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn

2) In An Instant

This is one of those books that breaks you, then puts you back together again. Keep tissues handy.

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

3) Heroine

Readers of Mindy McGinnis know that she doesn’t pull any punches. This book was raw and brutal and should be required reading for high schoolers.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

4) The Sun Down Motel

This book had all the atmosphere! It also gave me ghost story fever and influenced what I read quite a bit in the months after I finished it.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

5) Anna Dressed In Blood

You wouldn’t expect a YA horror book to be so good, but this one really was. It was deep and poignant and much more than I ever expected.

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

6) The Hand On The Wall

This entire trilogy was just so perfect, from the dual mystery, modern day and historical, to the characters. It was an absolute pleasure to read! (And I hear there’s a fourth book in the works!)

#NoEscape (Volume 3) by Gretchen McNeil

7) #NoEscape

I’m a big Gretchen McNeil fan, and this one did not disappoint! Plenty of suspense, horror, and so, so smart!

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

8) With The Fire On High

This book didn’t have a lot of suspense, it had zero horror, but it had a lot of heart. It had me cheering for the main character because I cared about her future.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

9) Home Before Dark

For some reason I got the biggest kick out of this book. It was a good balance of humor and horror, fact and fiction, and I really had fun reading it.

I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly   Jones

10) I’m Not Dying With You Tonight

This wasn’t the best written or the most emotional, but it kept me on the edge of my seat! Incredibly suspenseful because it was such a pertinent book for our times, 2020 in particular.

Have you read any of these? Where did they rank with what you read this year?

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

This book was engaging and kept me up late reading. Blake’s writing draws you in and keeps you in the story’s grasp. Good ghost scenes and action. Not as haunting as the first, but a good sequel.
This one was crafty. I thought I knew what I was in for, then it took a turn that had me worried I was mistaken, then *pow* it was back on track, hunting the characters down through the pages and delivering exactly what I wanted!

I just started:

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Monday (Mini Book Review) Madness

This week I read:

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This book was glorious and brutal and thrilling and heartbreaking and wrong. But SO right. You can always count on McGinnis to emotionally destroy you. If you need to cry, she’s your girl. If you need a lift and some strength, she’s your girl, too. Officially crushing on this author. (Is it wrong that I plan to use this book as my defense in court if I ever go on a rampage?)

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I felt kind of blah about this one. It was on a list of titles with killer twists, so my expectations may have been unfairly high. There were plenty of twists, but they left me underwhelmed – I didn’t experience the highs and lows I expect from a thriller. That said, it was well written and a different reader may really enjoy it.

I just started:

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ARC Review: Five Total Strangers By Natalie D. Richards

sFrom Goodreads: A hitched ride home in a snow storm turns sinister when one of the passengers is plotting for the ride to end in disaster.

When Mira flies home to spend Christmas with her mother in Pittsburgh, a record-breaking blizzard results in a cancelled layover. Desperate to get to her grief-ridden mother in the wake of a family death, Mira hitches a ride with a group of friendly college kids who were on her initial flight.

As the drive progresses and weather conditions become more treacherous, Mira realizes that the four other passengers she’s stuck in the car with don’t actually know one another.

Soon, they’re not just dealing with heavy snowfall and ice-slick roads, but the fact that somebody will stop at nothing to ensure their trip ends in a deadly disaster.

My Review: I read One Was Lost by this author last year and really liked it, so I was excited to get my hands on this one!

This book drew me in and kept my attention. Fast paced and suspenseful, every time I thought I knew what direction this twisty thriller was going to go it shifted gears and surprised me! Craftily plotted and with plenty of red herrings, the author keeps you guessing until the end. So get in the car and prepare yourself for a ride full of nail biting tension!

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Expected release: October 6, 2020

ARC Review: Even If We Break By Marieke Nijkamp

51210722From Goodreads:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp comes a shocking new thriller about a group of friends tied together by a game and the deadly weekend that tears them apart.

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

Are you ready to play?

My Review:

Heading in, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought the cover looked cool, and I read This Is How It Ends by this author several years ago and recalled really liking it, so I was excited to give this one a chance. 

What I got was a fast-paced, interesting YA mystery thriller.

Diverse characters and a suspenseful plot kept me turning the pages, but it was the mystery that kept me hooked. I enjoyed the way the characters’ RPG roles intertwined and influenced their realities, but found the game itself a bit distracting (although I’m sure there are people who will love it).

The mysterious ghost story about the cabin was a nice touch – I would have liked to see a little more of this element, if only to keep the reader guessing, as the ending was a little predictable – not enough was done to make everyone a viable suspect. But all in all I enjoyed this story and look forward to her next book!

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: The First To Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

52383175From Goodreads: 

Bestselling and award-winning author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan delivers another twisty, thrilling cat and mouse novel of suspense that will have you guessing, and second-guessing, and then gasping with surprise.

We all have our reasons for being who we are—but what if being someone else could get you what you want?

After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn’t know—she isn’t the only one plotting her revenge.

An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter, in too deep. A grieving widow who must choose her new reality. Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?

My Review:

Wow!!! Hank has done it again! This suspenseful tale is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end! Craftily plotted, oozing with suspense, and with just a touch of sinister intentions, this book will have you asking yourself – “Who isn’t lying?”

Great subject matter with a plausible storyline that kept me engaged and enthralled.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday (Mini Book Review) Madness

This week I read:

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You may have noticed by now that I love the whole trapped in an isolated situation with a killer trope. This one made for easy reading. While I figured out the who (but not the why) early on, I must say that the author did a great job of handling so many characters – I was able to keep them straight right away, which isn’t always the case. Recommended for readers who want a fun, quick paced, mystery. Not recommended for those who want an intricate, hard to solve mystery.

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This is the sequel to The Things You Find In Rockpools, which I loved. While this one was good, the author normalized the MC too much, losing some of the quirky charm that made the first book so appealing. Recommended for readers looking for a fun, if somewhat unbelievable, dual mystery. Not recommended for readers who are driven crazy by typos, etc. – while the first book was clean, this one was in dire need of a good edit. Dire. Need. My head almost exploded.

On audiobook:

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This was the second audiobook I’ve finished, and, again, I really wish I’d have read it instead of listening to it (it took me several months to finish). It seemed like a fun YA mystery thriller. There was a lot going on, and I feel I lost a lot in translation with the frequent gaps and breaks I took in listening to this. I liked it enough to read another of her books.

I just started:

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I used to LOVE this author, then her books sort of . . . lost my interest. Really looking forward to seeing if the spark is reignited!

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Monday (Mini Book Review) Madness

This week I read:

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I did not care for this book – not the writing or the characters or the plot. I almost put it down a dozen times, but one of the blurbs on the cover is by an author who I enjoy, and I trusted his opinion and figured there’d be a payoff at the end. There was a twist, and some people might enjoy this one, but for me it was a disappointment. 

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This book had an interesting premise, and the author certainly upped the ante with some of the storylines within the book. There was plenty of tension and suspense and some good twists woven into the plot. My only complaint for this one is that there were quite a few main characters, and it took a while for me to keep them straight, but otherwise this was a fun and engaging thriller.

I just started:

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Click the links to friend me on Litsy or Goodreads and unite our bookish communities!

Monday (Mini Book Review) Madness

This week I read:

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This book was EVERYTHING! I laughed, I cried, and still I want more! Irreverently funny, obscene, and yet at times poignantly deep. Totally not the type of book I typically read, but so worth the departure from my norm. The zombie apocalypse told from the perspective of animals, mainly a crow, as they try to rescue the pets locked in their homes and survive the zombies and changing world. 5 blinding stars! Recommended for everyone, because this is the first book I’ve read this year that makes me feel that way.

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I really enjoyed this one, despite being a bit disappointed by the direction it went. It was quick paced, tensely plotted, and kept my mind racing with thoughts about what must really be going on. Recommended for readers looking for a twisty thriller. Not recommended for readers who want a completely believable tale.

I just started:

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Click the links to friend me on Litsy or Goodreads and unite our bookish communities!

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