2020 is (finally) coming to a close and I feel like this year has both crawled and flew by. I’m writing this on December 27th and at this point I’ve read 66 books this year, which is one book over my Goodreads goal! I have read some absolutely amazing books this year and I’m so happy and proud of myself for meeting my reading goal. With a literal pandemic, finishing graduate school, studying for my social work licensing exam, and starting my first social work job this year has probably been one of the hardest of my life but I did it. And I SMASHED my goals!
I’ll be sharing more about my reading goals for 2021 in an upcoming post and I’m going kind of radical with my 2021 reading goals…. so be sure to look out for that one! I’ll also be sharing some of my most disappointing reads of the year and that’ll be FUN to write! This week I have lots of fun posts coming at ya so follow my Instagram for allll the updates! I may even read one or two more novellas before 2020 is over!
I’m going to narrow this down to my top 10 reads of 2020 and maybe include some honorable mentions at the end! The title will be a link to my review (if I’ve posted one) so you can read my full thoughts on each book! Obviously, as these are my favorites of the year these are all great recommendations if you’re here looking for one!
Coming in at number 10 this year is the powerhouse true crime/memoir mash-up that is I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Michelle McNamara’s book has been everywhere since 2018 and I’m so glad I got the chance to read it this year! I love true crime but it’s not a genre I read a lot of, so when I pick up a true crime book I usually take a month or more to pick through it but this was so so so hard for me to put down. I absolutely devoured this and I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time. I can’t recommend this one enough and I love the companion HBO documentary with the same name as well as the podcast from the L.A. Times about this case, The Man in the Window. A masterpiece in true crime, for sure.
Number 9 is actually my first Lisa Kleypas novel as well as my first read of 2020, the first Ravenels novel, Cold-Hearted Rake. 2020 was really a year of historical romances for me and I gravitated towards this genre a lot this year and I was blown away by this novel. I listened to this as an audiobook at the beginning of the year and I remember just being absolutely smitten with this story! The characters, the dynamic between the hero and heroine, the drama and wit and banter just captivated me from the start. I couldn’t listen to this fast enough and I love love loved it! If you’re looking for something similar to Bridgerton then I highly suggest this one!
Number 8 is this totally engrossing mystery from Edwin Hill, the second novel in his Hester Thursby series, The Missing Ones. I received this as a gift from my friends at Kensington publishing after I read and enjoyed his first novel, Little Comfort. I absolutely could not put this down, I read and read and read. I had to know WHAT was going on. I really enjoyed the first novel in the series but this one has really pushed it to the forefront of my mystery reading. I have an ARC copy of the 3rd novel that is going to release on the 29th, so I’m looking forward to continuing on! These are a bit darker than what I typically read, but hot damn was it good. It’s dark and gritty and twisty and just, I can’t gush about this one enough.
Next up is another mystery, it’s the newest installment in my favorite cozy mystery series, A Death Long Overdue! I read this as an ARC this year and have been graced with yet another ARC for the upcoming novel, but I loved this one! They’re very quick reads and yet are so satisfying when it comes to the mystery. This was much more than a murder mystery; a stolen priceless jewel, a missing man, a love triangle, sketchy twins. It was so good and had me flipping pages long into the evening. I’m a huge cozy mystery fan, but this series is by far my favorite! I have reviews posted for every single one, just search “eva gates” in the top!
I can’t tell ya’ll how much I wanted this book. I devoured The Royal We back in like 2015 and had been counting down the days till we could get a sequel, and this lived up to everything I wanted and more. Yes they’re long. Yes they’re drawn out. But they’re so…. engrossing. It’s like living through a day, week, month or year with Kate Middleton herself, with some more drama sprinkled in. This had me laughing, crying, screaming, and just kept me entirely glued to the page. I have to give a giant thank you to Grand Central Publishing for not only providing me an ARC and a finished copy, but for helping me host a giveaway for this, as well! This book definitely made my year!
5) The Invited
We’re officially half-way through this countdown! Top five is kicking off with The Invited, a hauntingly creepy and fresh take on my favorite horror trope: the haunted house. I listened to this as an audiobook and it was excellent, to say the least. I was HOOKED immediately. This book was so creepy and I vividly remember listening while I was driving late at night and like beelining from my car into the house because I was so creeped out. This was such a fresh take on a classic horror idea; building a haunted house. I loved every single element of this book and then some, it was seriously unlike anything I’ve ever read and I loved it.
Swoon. I can’t with this book. It’s gotten some buzz on Instagram lately but not nearly as much as it deserves. Mr. Impossible is basically the 1999 movie (my FAVORITE movie) The Mummy is historical romance format. I couldn’t love this more. It has that classic sunshine and grump trope but the heroine is the grump and is also a language scholar and way too smart for a woman in these times. There’s a ton of action. There’s so much sexual tension in this slow burn romance and, most of all, it’s set in EGYPT! My favorite setting for a historical novel, romance or otherwise. No one really talks about this one but I was totally enchanted and engrossed, I couldn’t put it down and it was a great escape read during the middle of the year, when I really struggled. If you love The Mummy the same way I do, please pick up this book! You won’t be disappointed!
TOP 3! Coming in at number 3 for 2020 is the newest novel from Riley Sager, Home Before Dark. This was my first Sager read but I was absolutely floored when I read this. As soon as I started I couldn’t put it down and I devoured it. This was the perfect mix of all our favorite horror movies; Amityville, Hill House, and more. I know this had some mixed reviews but I loved it. This has a dual timeline and flips back and forth from the present and from entries in a book, which I loved. Dual timelines are some of my favorites. This is much more than a ghost story and I cannot recommend this enough! If you’ve never read a Sager this is a good place to start, as I did!
My 2nd favorite read of the year is the newest novel from Simone St. James, The Sun Down Motel. I absolutely loved her novel The Broken Girls, and I had this on my radar as soon as she announced it. It was even better than I could have imagined. Another one with a dual timeline and an interwoven ghost story, this audiobook blew my mind. It was so hard not to keep it on and listen to it straight through the night. It was creepy, it left me guessing, and the ending floored me. I love Simone St. James and I just cannot wait to see where she goes. I have some of her backlist to read and I’m excited about it, but I have to admit I’m very much looking forward to whatever she’s going to do next.
1) The Diviners
My. Top. Read. Of. 2020. THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray! I had had this on my TBR for years but I just picked it up this year on a whim and I…. I don’t even know what to say about this one, ya’ll. She’s thicc and she’s intense, but I can’t even explain how much I loved this. The 1920’s, the ghosts, the demonic, the murders, the romance, the lingo, the characters, everything, absolutely everything about this book was perfection for me. I can’t wait to finish this series in 2021, although I’ll be very upset when I have nothing else from this series to read. I have done nothing but gush about this book since I finished it and I’ve thought about it a lot, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise that this was the best read of 2020 for me. This has a little something for everyone and I highly highly recommend this novel.
2020 Honorable Mentions