Last month of reading for 2020! I finished the month with 6 books, making my total books read this year 57! I feel pretty good about that number. I had quite the variety and I discovered some awesome characters, stories and authors. This month I read a cute young adult novel, a fictional story by an author I adore, a romantic holiday themed read, a thriller, another adorable romance, and a story about a single mom trying to navigate college admissions for her daughter while juggling her job. I finished the last book on December 31st! Just in time to wrap up the year.
Majesty: American Royals II by Katharine McGee
American Royals II is the second in the American Royals series. I read the first book last year in December, the second one came out this fall so I was excited when my hold finally came through the library! It’s meant for Young Adults so it’s a fairly quick read. The series is fictional and it imagines the United States with a monarchy in place. After the Revolutionary War, George Washington was crowned King of America, his descendants continue to rule. The monarchy has power in the government and they are also incredibly popular with the American people. The first novel focuses on introducing the cast of characters: Beatrice who is next in line in for the throne (the first Queen!), Sam the Princess and Beatrice’s younger sister, Nina who is Sam’s best friend and Daphne a social climber determined to marry her way into the Royal Family.
The second novel begins with Beatrice becoming Queen and navigating her new found responsibilities. Sam is trying to find her place and feel more than just a “spare”. Nina is finally trying to find her independence and live her life as a college freshman. Daphne is trying to social climb and not let her past mistakes ruin her latest ploys to find fame. The author claimed that this was going to be the last American Royals novel however I feel like she leaves a lot of things up in the air. I wouldn’t be surprised if she writes a third book, it seems almost necessary in order to wrap up some of the stories. If there is not going to be a third then I’m disappointed where she left all the characters. I think it’s a creative storyline and I like the diverse female perspectives in the book. It’s an interesting concept and I think it was fun to imagine the US with a monarchy in place. I am not sure which book I liked better but I think it’s a fun and quick read and worth checking out to explore the world of the American Royals.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Fredrik Backman is a great author and A Man Called Ove was one of my favorite books I’ve read. I also read his novel, Britt-Marie Was Here last year so I was excited when Book of the Month had his latest novel: Anxious People as an option. The novel was on a lot of different lists for people to check out and Backman is a bestselling author for a reason! The novel was a bit of a slow build but once it got going it was very entertaining. The book is about a bank robbery gone very wrong, when the robber tries to rob a cashless bank they run out across the street to an open house and end up taking the people hostage. The bank robber never meant to hurt anyone. The hostages and the robber realize they all have more in common then they initially thought. It’s quite the diverse group but they are all looking to be rescued in their own way. By the time the hostage “crisis” is over the bank robber seems to have vanished into thin air.
The story focuses on the police investigation, the witness statements and flashbacks to the time in the apartment and events that led up to the day. Backman is a unique writer and his style and characters draw you in. It’s amazing how he introduces each character, their hopes, grievances, secrets and desires and finds similarities between each of them. The story is unique and I’ve never read anything quite like it. I loved the ending and I have a few friends who read it who enjoyed it as well. I think it’s definitely worth the read and it was one of Book of the Month’s top books of 2020.
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
In a Holidaze was the perfect holiday read for the end of 2020. It was quick, lighthearted, totally unrealistic and romantic. I read it curled up in bed with a cup of coffee in my Christmas mug. It’s that kind of book. The story follows Maelyn Jones, she’s stuck in a dead end job, living with her mom and dad, and her perfect Christmas holiday got messed up with one too many glasses of eggnog and a make out with her childhood best friend. Every year her family travels to Utah to stay in a cabin in the mountains with their family friends. Usually, she leaves the trip feeling refreshed and ready for the new year but her make out with Theo and some devastating news leaves her shaken. As her family is driving away Mae asks the universe to help her be happy, suddenly, there is a crash and she wakes up six days prior on the plane at the start of her vacation. She finds herself stuck in a ground-hog type situation. Mae needs to figure out how to get out of this time loop and hopefully fix her messed up holiday and finally go after what she wants.
As she keeps reliving the same holiday, disasters keep sending her back to the plane to start the time loop over again. Mae wants to save the holiday and hopefully end up with her actual true love under the mistletoe. The story is a little predictable but so heartwarming. I posted a picture on Instagram of me reading this book and I had multiple people reach out saying they just finished the book or were just starting it! Everyone seemed to enjoy it and I recommend it if you want a lighthearted maybe not 100% original but very entertaining romantic story.
One by One by Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware is a bestselling author who has the recipe for a great thriller. I first read The Woman in Cabin 10 and have read all her novels. When she released One by One, I was quick to put it on hold at the library. I was excited when it finally came through and I got to dive into Ware’s creepy world once again. This story reminded me a lot of another thriller I read last year called Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena. Both novels take place at a hotel/resort in the mountains that is cut off from the outside world after the weather takes a turn for the worse. In Unwanted Guest someone ends up dead, then another guest and soon everyone is paranoid and not sure who to trust. In One by One, a company retreat up in the French Alps turns into a disaster after an avalanche cuts off electricity and cell service.
The company is not as tight knit as it appeared, each coworker has their own secrets and when a buyout is on the table people’s true colors start to show. One of the company founders never makes it back to the chalet after the avalanche and as the weather gets colder the coworkers begin to drop. Told from the perspective of the chalet’s hostess and a quiet member of the group, tensions increase as signs of rescue seem further and further off. The novel kept me guessing but Ware does leave little clues that help you realize who is to blame. It’s not my favorite Ruth Ware novel but it was entertaining and I was able to get through it pretty fast.
The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary was my audio book of the month and it was super cute. The story is not very realistic but it was a good book to end 2020 on and it made me smile numerous times. The story is about Tiffy and Leon, they share an apartment however, they have never met. Leon is a night-shift worker who takes the apartment during the day, Tiffy has the apartment at night and on the weekends. It seems easy enough and Tiffy was in desperate need for a cheap option after a bad breakup. At first, Tiffy and Leon begin to exchange notes with little reminders, “trash day”, “help yourself to leftovers” etc. soon though, the notes become more personal and they feel like they really know each other. Obviously, they begin to fall for each other but it’s not smooth sailing!
The story was really cute and I liked the cast of characters. Tiffy and Leon have good qualities and the author does a good job of adding some depth to them. There are some side stories woven in throughout the book too so it’s not just all Tiffy and Leon. I really enjoyed the audio book because it had two voice actors and it takes place in London which is fun. Each chapter switches off between Tiffy and then Leon. I really did enjoy it even though it was cheesy and romantic. I was sad when it was done, I loved listening to their story. If you want a cute and lighthearted novel to either read or listen to then definitely check this out.
Tiny Imperfections by Alli Frank & Asha Youmans
Last book of 2020 was Tiny Imperfections. This book was recommended on my daily Newsletter “The Skim” way back in May. I wrote it down as something that sounded interesting and finally bought the Kindle version to check out. The book made all sorts of lists of “Best Books for Quarantine” and “Best New Books” and I think it sort of lived up to the hype. It wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read this year but there was a lot to like. It had a lot of funny moments and it was a quick read that was entertaining even if parts seemed a little far fetched.
The book is about Josie, she’s 39 and her modeling career is long done. She’s now the Director of Admissions at a fancy private school in San Francisco and a spot in the Kindergarten class is a hot commodity. Josie is a single mom living with her Aunt who raised her and her teenage daughter who is getting ready to go off to college the next year. Josie has high hopes for her daughter Etta, she wants her to go Ivy League, however, Etta is a talented dancer and hopes to follow her dreams and dance at a performing arts school instead. The book is about the crazy admissions process with over the top parents, Etta’s journey to college, Josie balancing her friends push towards getting her to date again while managing her Aunt’s health. She has a lot on her plate! I liked Josie’s character a lot and I liked that the authors explored her journey through her high pressure job, motherhood and race. There was one part that didn’t really sit well with me towards the end because I found it so unbelievable but it made for a happy story so I see why the authors put it in there. Was it the best book of Quarantine? No, but it’s worth a read!
That’s it for 2020. I think I’ll keep up this whole blogging thing, I enjoy recapping the books and I hope some people find the reviews useful. I have a whole stack of books to check out in 2021 so I can’t wait to see where my reading takes me.
Here’s a list (in no particular order) of my top books of 2020: Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare, The Holdout by Graham Moore, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, Educated by Tara Westover, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, All Adults Here by Emma Straub, Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward, The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradel, Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, and The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary.
See any worth reading? Until next time!