The Best Books I’ve Read in 2020

Now that we are officially halfway through 2020, I thought it would be a good time for me to tell you about the best books I have read so far this year!

My monthly wrap-ups have been nonexistent this year. I think I have written one. So, this serves as sort of a 6-month wrap-up with just good stuff. I am not going to include rereads in this; all these books were new to me in 2020.

First up is a book I am currently reading. I have about a quarter of the book to go, I am taking my time with it because it is so damn good, I don’t want it to end! This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and if you guessed¬†Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, you are correct!

Yes, Home Before Dark is the Horror Thriller of my dreams. When Maggie Holt was just a girl, she and her parents moved into a desolate Vermont mansion, Baneberry Hall. They were there for 3-weeks before they fled for their lives. Her father subsequently released a novel titled, House of Horrors, that tells of their time within the house that he claims is haunted.

Twenty-five years later, after his death, Maggie returns to Baneberry Hall for the first time seeking answers. Was her father’s novel a complicated lie or are the halls of Baneberry actually as haunted as he claims?

Told in alternating sections between Maggie’s current day timeline and excerpts from the Book, I am loving every single second of my time reading this! Horror fans rejoice, this is perfection.

Next up, I would have to mention King’s newest release.¬†If It Bleeds¬†is a four-story short-story collection that includes an anticipated release following one of my favorite characters from the Bill Hodges Trilogy,¬†Holly Gibney.

I felt this was such a great, well-rounded collection. I loved every single story. They all had completely different topics and feels, but somehow worked together perfectly. I actually think I loved this as much as Full Dark, No Stars, which is saying a lot, as that is currently my number one favorite short-story collection.

Keeping with the King, I have to mention¬†Duma Key,¬†which I read last month for a readalong with a bunch of folks in the Constant Reader community on Bookstagram. Firstly, I am so disappointed in myself for not picking up this epic story before now. It was soooooo good. I can’t believe it has been missing from my life all these years.

It follows a man, who after a devastating construction site accident, moves to a remote section of the Florida coastline to recover, both mentally and physically. There he rediscovers a passion for making art, but when Duma Key essentially begins communicating with him through his artwork, the real fun begins. Steeped in family lore and hidden secrets, this story contains beautiful friendships and a ton of hauntings. It is everything!

Even though I have owned a copy of this book since it was released in 2008, I had never even read the synopsis. I had literally no clue what this book was about going in and became completely entranced as the story unfolded. This felt like classic King to me; full of paranormal glee.

Taking a completely different turn, a YA-Contemporary that has blown me away this year would be, Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender. Following Felix Love, a transgender teen living in New York, this story is a journey of self-acceptance and discovery as Felix learns how important it is to love himself, in addition to accepting love from others.

After a fellow student creates a gallery listing Felix’s deadname, along with photos of him before his transition, he is rightly shattered. He vows to find the person responsible and make them pay. Along with his best friend, Ezrah, he sets out to do just that. For a while, Ez is on board, but eventually Felix goes rogue and continues his revenge plot on his own. During this time, Felix evolves a lot as a character, as he opens up to individuals he had previously blocked from his life and seeks to understand more about his own identity.

Speaking of YA, the YA Mystery/Thriller game has been very strong this year, as I have discovered two new favorites in 2020 releases. Those would be,¬†I Killed Zoe Spanos,¬†by Kit Frick and¬†A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder,¬†by Holly Jackson. Both of these novels follow teen girls doing some amateur sleuthing into unsolved disappearances in their hometowns.

In I Killed Zoe Spanos, Martina Green creates a podcast investigating the mysterious disappearance of Zoe Spanos. Throughout the book we get the transcripts of entire podcast episodes and it was such a phenomenal way to build out the story. I adored this entire book, start-to-finish; the podcast element being just one small portion of the fuller narrative.

In¬†A Good Girl’s Guide,¬†we follow high school Senior, Pippa Fitz-Amobi, as she investigates the disappearance of local girl, Andie Bell, for her Senior Capstone project. Andie’s boyfriend, Sal Singh, has been accused of murdering her in a jealous rage. Pippa knows Sal and is not buying this official story. She thinks the town is covering up something and she is hell bent on exposing the secrets.

Pippa is a fantastic character. I loved reading from her perspective. Even when things got really scary, she was dogged in her search. Never giving up and never allowing others to tell her she couldn’t do something. This was cleverly formatted as well to make it a highly addictive story!

Another favorite for 2020 thus far would be Julie Kagawa’s concluding book in the¬†Shadow of the Fox¬†trilogy,¬†Night of the Dragon.¬†Returning to the land of Iwagoto, we follow kitsune shapeshifter, Yumeko, and her friends as the continue to work to keep the infamous Dragon Scroll safe. They are quite literally on a quest to save the world, so no pressure.

As much as I did not want this series to end, I could not have dreamed up a more stunning conclusion. This story shattered my soul into a million pieces. It stole my breath, but also instilled a sense of love and hope. Kagawa is wildly imaginative and an exceptional storyteller. This entire series was flawless. All the stars.

And finally, a new favorite Horror novel for me would be Grady Hendrix’s 2020 release,¬†The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.¬†This story swept me away from the very first pages. I love the tone of Hendrix’s writing. This one, set in the 90s, felt like the 90s. Following housewife, Patricia Campbell, in her suburban South Carolina town, we watch as she steps outside of her comfort zone to save all she loves, when an evil force arrives in town.

Hendrix can effortlessly blend humor with horror in his novels and I absolutely adore it. This book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me cringe and gag; it was incredible. Highly recommend this to any Horror fan!

So, those are my top, top, top books of 2020 thus far. I have read so many great books this year. A lot of 5-star reads, but when I reflect back, these are the titles that have truly stayed with me.

I am slaying my 2020-reading goals as well, which feels great. I set my goal at 150-books for the year and as of this writing, have completed 111-books. It’s fairly obvious to me I will be exceeding my goal.

Okay, that’s enough from me for now! I have to go read! I am participating in the blog tour tomorrow for the release of Girl, Serpent, Thorn¬†by Melissa Bashardoust, so stay tuned for that!

Until next time, Cheers & Happy Reading!

Currently Reading: The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death RowThe Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

After reading, and thoroughly enjoying, The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South earlier this year, my interest in wrongful conviction cases has been rekindled.

The Sun Does Shine is Anthony Ray Hinton’s memoir of his 28-years on Death Row after a wrongful conviction for two murders. After a decade of lackluster representation, Hinton’s appeal was taken on by the Equal Justice Initiative, eventually securing his freedom.

I am really looking forward to reading Hinton’s story and urge everyone to check it out as well. I have also linked the Equal Justice Initiative above, if you are interested in learning more about their organization and how you can help.

View all my reviews

May Reading Plans: Medieval-A-Thon!!!

Hello, book friends! Welcome to May and day 4,354 of social distancing…

Oh wait. I guess it hasn’t been quite that long, but some days it feels like it!

I know it has been a long time since I have posted anything but reviews. Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you want to look at it, I have spent every spare moment reading.

I’ve pretty much given up on writing wrap-ups. The last one I wrote was a seriously belated January wrap-up. I have planned on writing February and March, but now I would have to do April too!

I don’t know, what do you guys think? One option is do a Q1 Favorites & Least Favorites post, then do an April wrap-up and go from there. Any advice from anyone who can actually handle time management, let me know!

Anywho, May!!! I am so darn excited about May because Holly Knece, @hollyheartsbooks, is bringing back my favorite readathon of last year: Medieval-A-Thon. For a full description of Medieval-A-Thon, please click HERE and if it sounds fun (WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY IS) join us!!!

I am going to try to meet all of the prompts. I think I can do it. Although I am not setting a TBR, I will make my selections as I go, I will be sure to update you at the end of the month! That’s a promise!

What are you reading this month? Are you participating in any readathons or readalongs? I want to know! Leave a comment down below or contact me through any of my social media links.

That’s all for now! Cheers & Happy Reading~

Offensively Late January Wrap-Up

Oh, hello. Hi, book friends!

It’s me, Meg. Do I write anything on this blog besides reviews?

Not much lately. I am so sorry about that. The funny thing is, I have spent every spare moment reading. The good news, I have completed 42-books this year already! The bad news, I am not putting out very interesting content, unless you love reading endless reviews.

Tonight I am dogsitting and figured, what better time to catch up on belated wrap-ups. Now, I bring you, what I read in January!! These will be in completion order:

  1. Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim: 4-stars, YA Fantasy gender swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. Thank you, Disney Hyperion for my ARC!
  2. The Missing Years by Lexie Elliot: 4.5-stars, Adult Suspense set in the Scottish Highlands. (audiobook)
  3. The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters: 3-stars, Adult Thriller with supernatural undertones. Thank you to Crooked Lane Books for my ARC!
  4. Hark! The Herald Angels Scream edited by Christopher Golden: 3.5-stars, Horror Anthology with all stories revolving around the Christmas season.
  5. Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz: 4-stars, YA Hard-Hitting Contemporary following a girl who gains her freedom after being kidnapped and held against her will for 7-months. Thank you to Wednesday Books for my ARC!
  6. The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner: 4.5-stars, Adult Historical Fiction following a female friendship that formed during a stay at an Texas internment camp during WWII. Thank you to Berkley Books for my ARC!
  7. Coral by Sara Ella: 3.5-stars, YA Hard-Hitting Contemporary with Magical Realism that is a modern retelling of The Little Mermaid. Multiple trigger warnings can be found in the author’s review of the book on Goodreads. Please be sure to reference that prior to reading if you have sensitivites you are concerned about particularly involving self-harm and/or suicide. Thank you to Thomas Nelson Books for my ARC!
  8. The Whisper Man by Alex North: 4.5-stars, Adult Crime Thriller with excellent police procedural elements; also, creepy as hell! Thank you to Celadon Books for my ARC!
  9. All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells: 4-stars, Adult Science Fiction Novella that is delightfully humorous and full of action. (audiobook)
  10. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord: 5-stars, YA Contemporary Romance about a battle over a grill cheese recipe. No joke and it was fabulous. Thank you to Wednesday Books for my ARC!
  11. As Old As Time (A Twisted Tale) by Liz Braswell: 3.5-stars, YA retelling of Beauty and Beast. Part of Disney’s Twisted Tale series, this story imagines what would have happened if Belle’s Mother had been the one to curse the Beast.
  12. Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall: 3.5-stars, YA Horror about a teen girl delving into her sister’s mysterious disappearance. (audiobook)
  13. Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: 3.5-stars, part of the Rick Riordan imprint, this Middle Grade story is based on the Navajo legend of the hero twins. Thank you so much to Disney Book Group, and Rick Riordan Presents, for my ARC!
  14. The Princess and a Fangirl (Once Upon a Con #2) by Ashley Poston: 4-stars, YA Contemporary that is basically a love letter to geek culture. (audiobook)
  15. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas: 4.5-stars, YA Mystery about a girl looking into multiple deaths of cheerleaders at her school. (audiobook)
  16. The Queen of Nothing (Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black: 4-stars, YA Fantasy, the conclusion to a beloved fae series. 
  17. Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer: 4-stars, YA Science Fiction series that retells the stories of various fairy tale ladies. Scarlet inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. (audiobook) 

As you can tell, I have been real busy reading. That’s it though. 17-books completed in the month of January. I feel so much better now that I have memorialized this accomplishment.

Now I must rest.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Do you have any memorable reads from January you think I should add to my list? Or ones to avoid?

I want to know! Leave a comment below or contact me through any of my social media links!

I vow to complete February’s wrap-up by the end of the weekend. Then, just like that, I’ll be all caught up. I am literally thriving right now. Until next time, cheers & happiest of reading!

 

February Reading Plans

Hello, my lovely book friends! Long time, no post!

Where have I been? What have I been up to?

Long story short, I went on a mini-vacation with my best friend, down to Tennessee and read nothing that entire time. Then upon arriving home, I came down with the cold of the century and have basically been out of commission for a week.

Luckily, today I have only blown my nose 400 times versus 4,156,220. That’s an improvement.

I feel like life is returning to my body and soul, hence the post! I actually have the energy to form coherent thoughts and sit at my laptop to type.

So, let’s talk February reading plans. I have not done my January wrap-up yet, as it is a big one, and I don’t have that much energy yet. I figured this post would be a good place to start.

February is Women in Horror month and there is a month-long readathon hosted by the Ladies of Horror Fiction — look them up on Instagram and they also have a GoodReads Book Group — which I am participating in.

There are five challenges involved, but the overall goal is to read Women Horror Authors. There aren’t enough of them, so it is nice to shine a light on their work.

The group book for the month is, The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring. I have wanted to get to this one for a while now and am stoked to finally be picking it up. Hoping to start that one tomorrow.

Other than that, I have a lot of backlist titles that will fit the challenge prompts so will be happy to check some of those off my endless TBR. These include two of my current reads, Blood Countess by Lana Popovic and The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube. 

In addition to this, I also hope to read one ‘new to me’ Stephen King, which I planned to do in January but didn’t get too, as well as read, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark as a Instagram readalong.

That’s it for solid plans. Other than that, I will be continuing to make my way through my 2020-ARCs and mood read.¬†

What are your February reading plans? Are you participating in any readathons or readalongs? I want to know. Leave a comment down below or contact me through any of my social media links!

Until next time, Cheers & Happy Reading!

((Phew, I’m exhausted))

2020 Reading Goals

Now that 2020 is in full swing, it’s time to let y’all know my reading goals for the year.

My biggest take away from 2019 was that I am putting to much pressure on myself to read certain things at certain times and was causing unneeded stress in my life.

I’m not sure when or why I started taking what I was reading so seriously but moving forward, I am going to get back to reading for me.

All joking aside, at my heart, I am mood reader. One of my favorite feelings in the world is after I finish one book, picking out a new book to start. With some many things to choose from, the possibilities seem endless, like the world is my oyster, and I love that feeling.

I have decided to forgo my monthly TBR challenges for this year (I was failing at them terribly by the end of 2019, anyway) and also give up on my monthly theme reading.

Someday, maybe I will go back to this type of format, but for now, it just wasn’t working for me.

I also am going to try to slow down on the number of review copies I request and accept. I feel like all I read lately are ARCs. While they are all books I am excited for, I still have a ton of books that I purchase that I am also excited for that I never get around too because, well….ARCs!!!

I always, always appreciate the opportunity to read a book early and will continue to follow through with the obligations that I have made to publishers and hope to continue working with many of them going forward. I’m looking at you St. Martin’s Press, Disney Book Group and Berkley Books, to name a few!

This isn’t the end of ARCs for me, just a scaling back, let’s say.

I also want to continue to scale back on the number of books that I am purchasing. Last year, I allowed myself to pre-order 2 books per month and that worked pretty well. I am also down to one book subscription box per month, Book of the Month, with an occasional Book Outlet haul thrown in for good measure.

Lastly, I want to continue to strive to write full reviews for every, single book I read. Currently, I am going back through all the books I read in 2019 and trying to get full reviews up for the ones I missed. So, you may see an uptick in book reviews over the next week or so.

What are some of your reading goals for 2020? Were you successful with your 2019 goals? I want to know. Leave a comment here or contact me through any of my social media links.

Until next post, Cheers & Happy Reading~

Blog Tour Announcement: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Good news, book friends!

Thanks to the lovely people over at Wednesday Books, I will be participating in the Blog Tour for Emma Lord’s upcoming debut release, Tweet Cute!!!

This adorable romantic comedy follows a boy and girl in a heated Twitter battle. Can love result from their online shenanigans?

My review will be posted here, and on GoodReads, on Wednesday, January 15th, so stay tuned for that!

December Wrap-Up

As I sit down to write, it is currently 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 1, 2020! It seems like just yesterday that the Y2K-paranoia was sweeping the globe and yet, here we are 20-years later, with computers still functioning and people continuing to buy and read hard copy books.

You’re right. Enough lame intro. Let’s get into what we are really here to discuss, my December 2019 wrap-up.

As some of you may recall, my theme for the month was ‘Diverse December’. My goal was to complete 10-books with at least one prominent character whose life is significantly different from my own. In the below list, I will put an asterisk next to the titles that counted towards that goal.

My complete list of titles read, in order of completion is as follows:

  1. *Keeping Lucy¬† by T. Greenwood – This was an ARC provided to me by St. Martin’s Press. It had a main character with Down Syndrome and although that character was just a baby, it did provide a strong historical narrative regarding the treatment of children with disabilities in the late-1960s to early 1970s; 4.5-stars.
  2. Murder, She Wrote: A Time for Murder  by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land РARC-copy provided by Berkley books. This is book #50 in the beloved Murder, She Wrote mystery series and the first I have read under the new authorship of Jon Land; 3-stars.
  3. *The Kiss Quotient¬†by Helen Hoang – Adult Romance novel with a main character with Asperger’s Syndrome and a main character that is half Vietnamese; 4.5-stars.
  4. *Aurora Rising  by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff РYA SciFi with a half-Asian protagonist and a queer side character. This is the first book to an all new series for this successful author duo; 4.5-stars.
  5. *Dear Martin by Nic Stone РYA Contemporary OWN voices novel following an African-American main character as he grapples with race relations and police brutality in America; 5-stars.
  6. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin РYA Fantasy new release; 3.5-stars.
  7. *Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim – YA Mulan retelling set in China with a focus on Chinese history, folklore and culture; 4-stars.
  8. *The Ancient Nine¬†by Ian K. Smith – ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press following an African-American student navigating the secret societies of Harvard University. Great premise, bad delivery; 2.5-stars.
  9. *Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia – This Adult Mystery novel follows Tuesday Mooney and her friends on a literal treasure hunt through the beautiful city of Boston; gay side character; 5-stars.
  10. Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown – YA Dystopian; 4-stars.
  11. *All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney РARC provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. YA Contemporary with Muslim main character; 3.5-stars.
  12. Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff РYA SciFi; 4-stars.
  13. *Geekerella (Once Upon a Con #1) by Ashley Poston РYA Contemporary. This modern-day Cinderella retelling with a focus on geek culture had a lesbian best friend.

If my math is correct, I failed to reach my 10-diverse book goal but I did complete 9! Not to shabby. I’ll take it. I finished¬†Geekerella¬†last night so was very happy to end the year with a 5-star read.

My favorite covers of the month include:

How did your December reading go? Did you complete your goals? I want to know! Comment down below or contact me through any of my social media links.

In the next couple of days I am planning to post a list of my top 10 favorite books of 2019, as well as my 2020 reading goals, so stay tuned for that!

Until then, Cheers & Happy Reading~

Top 10 Most Anticipated YA Releases for Q1 2020

With 2020 almost upon us, it is time to start freaking out about the books soon to be released.

I already have a ton of great sounding titles on my radar but am keeping this list down to 10.

The YA titles listed below are all currently set to be released within the first quarter of 2020 (aka. release dates between 1/1/20 – 3/31/20). Without further ado, let’s get into them:

  1. Scavenge The Stars by Tara Sim – Because the Disney Book Group gods frequently bless me, I am currently reading this title, set to release on January 7th. This is a gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo!
  2. The Hand On the Wall (Truly Devious #3)  by Maureen Johnson РThe final book in the Truly Devious trilogy, I know a lot of readers are anxiously awaiting this one. Johnson is the Queen of Cliffhangers so I need this book ASAP! This YA Mystery series is a ton of fun and a breeze to get through.
  3. One of Us is Next by Karen McManus – YA Mystery from Karen McManus, a follow-up to her 2017 bestseller, One of Us is Lying. I really enjoyed The Breakfast Club feel of the first book so am excited to get to this next installment of the drama at Bayview High.
  4. Ashlords by Scott Reintgen – This epic YA Fantasy follows phoenix horse riders who must compete at The Races; a modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their society. Reintgen is the author of one of my favorite YA science-fiction series, The Nyxia Triad, so I am very interested to see him tackle fantasy!
  5. The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller – A YA fantasy story where the synopsis proclaims that our protagonist, Alessandra is going to woo the King, marry the King and then kill the King to take his kingdom. Color me intrigued, that sounds fabulous!
  6. The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne – The synopsis for this YA science-fiction novel sounds very Jane Austen but set in space. I was a big fan of Donne’s 2018 release, Brightly Burning, so am excited to read a story from her again.
  7. Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland – Jane, Kate and the zombies return in the second installment of Dread Nation. Historical fiction with zombies? Who knew it would be so good? Me, that’s who! Really excited to get back into this story!
  8. All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban РThis YA Mystery/Thriller brings a Breakfast Club-esque cast of characters, a locked room mystery and a bogus dinner invitation channeling Agatha Christie; totally on brand for me and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!
  9. Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3)¬†by Julie Kagawa – The third and final installment to pretty much my favorite YA Fantasy series. I am legit preordering like tomorrow and counting down the days until arrival. If you haven’t picked up this Japanese-inspired tale, you have plenty of time to read the first two books while you wait. You won’t be disappointed!
  10. A Phoenix First Must Burn¬†edited by Patrice Caldwell – This YA anthology consists of sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.That’s all I need to know. Sold.

It also appears the cover game will still be raging strong in 2020:

Am I right!? Those are all gorgeous and I cannot wait for them to be gracing my shelves! What books are you most looking forward to at the start of 2020? Are any of these are your list? What do you think I am missing? 

I want to know! Comment below or contact me through any of my social media links. Until next time, Cheers & Happy Reading~

 

 

December Reading Plans

The last month of the year is upon us! My theme for the month is…

DIVERSE BOOKS!!!

That’s right! It’s time for Diverse December. My goal, as in previous months, is to complete 10-books that can comfortably fit within this category. I am classifying any book as diverse if the main character of characters has an identity or lifestyle different than my own.

This can be race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental health or disability representation, anything like that. Obviously, the books I could read to fit into this category are plentiful, therefore, I am confident I can meet my 10-book diversity goal!

I’m so happy with how my reading year has gone so far. Just today I completed my 171st book of the year!!! I cannot even believe that. Just a few years ago I was happy when I read 70-something. We’re in all new territory now!

What are your reading goals for the end of the year? I want to know! Leave a comment here or contact me through any of my social media links. Until next time, Cheers & Happy Reading!