December 2020 Novel Ideas: 21 Quick Lit Reviews
The year is coming to a close, but we were able to sneak in some last-minute reads. We previewed a few amazing books coming out in January 2021 and managed to sneak in picks that made it onto our best of 2020 list! Keep your eyes out for an amazing thriller, a book to fill the Bridgerton void, and a book perfect for New Year’s Eve. Enjoy this last post for 2020. We look forward to seeing you in 2021 when we kick off our reading challenge.
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The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
Thanks to Libro.fm and St. Martins Press for my review copy. All opinions are my own. I’m calling it now. This is the best thriller of 2021. I love making sweeping statements like that, but it’s true! I devoured this book in one sitting and it kept me guessing the entire time! I listened to it, so I can tell you that it is EXCELLENT on audio. The story is a thriller retelling of Jane Eyre set in modern day alabama. I loved seeing the similarities to the original classic, but also how Hawkins took liberties to make the story fresh. 5 stars.
The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George
Thanks to Berkley for my review copy. All opinions are my own. Like most of the rest of the world, I binged Netflix’s Bridgertons on Christmas Day. The regency romantic drama ended and I needed more! I immediately turned to this book to fill my need for a historical fiction romance. It comes out 1/26/2021 but it’s worth a preorder if you love these types of books. It takes place in the Gilded Age when a Duke needs to marry an American heiress to get her dowry to help restore his estates to their former glory. The problem is, the heiress in question isn’t so easily wooed….or is she? 4 stars.
Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti
Thanks to Netgalley and Thomas&Mercer for my review copy, all opinions are my own. Holy gothic thriller, batman. This book is literally the stuff of paranormal legend. Missing girls, ghosts, murder, and a legit creepy castle where it all goes down? Cue images of me staying up past my bedtime as I tried to get over the scary things happening in this book. I had chills a few times while reading. I wish I had a few more answers at the end, but I think that’s part of the point, to leave the reader to decide what they think happens next. 4 stars.
Thanks to William Morrow Books for my advanced copy. Excuse my whole I gush about Gill Pauls‘s newest book, Jackie and Maria. Gill Paul is quickly becoming an auto-buy author for me. I loved Another Woman’s Husband and The Lost Daughter, about the Windsors and Romanovs respectively. Paul’s take on a new dynasty, The Kennedys, is equally compelling.
Most people know about Jackie’s life during her White House years, but hearing the tale of what caused her to marry Aristotle Onassis was fascinating. I loved the dual narrators of Jackie and Onassis’s long-time lover, opera singer Maria Callas. This might just be my favorite Historical Fiction of the year.
Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo
Thanks to Berkley for my review copy. All opinions are my own. I love that contemporary romance writers have started writing novels that have meat. This book deals with death, family heritage, interracial relationships, and pregnancy in ways that knocked my socks off. I was really impressed by how I could get romance vibes while still having a thought provoking read. I can’t wait to see what Igharo writes next. 4 stars.
A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
Thanks to Avon Books for my review copy. All opinions are my own. I loved this book from Jenny Holiday. It was one of the few holiday romance novels I’ve read in the past few months. The charming setting of Eldovia in the snow with its various festivities made for a wonderful Christmas read. I wasn’t expecting such a steamy book based on the description. While I loved how the romance between Marie and Leo progressed, I didn’t feel their chemistry as much during the love scenes. Oh well! It still made for a lovely read. 3 stars.
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
I wanted to like this book. I love Joukhadar’s writing style and his debut novel, The Map of Salt and Stars. We even named it one of the best books of 2018. But this book, while beautifully written, had too many threads. There were multiple narrators and there was so much information about birds and TBH, I hate birds. I’ve hated birds since I worked at the Philadelphia Zoo, so this book was just a miss for me. I ended up stopping it about half way through. But I look forward to Joukhadar’s next novel. 1 star.
The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Whilst I was doing some cleaning around the house, I listened to this charming tale by one of my favorite writers. Jenny Colgan is known for her heartwarming tales of self-discovery and this book is no different. Our main protagonist loses her job and her boyfriend and heads to Cornwall to lick her wounds. Soon she finds love, a new job, and a real life that she actually loves. Also she has a pet puffin name Neil. I’ll be continuing the series next month. 3 stars.
I was not expecting to like this book nearly as much as I ended up liking it! The Adults centers around a divorced couple, the people they are dating, and their daughter all going away for the Christmas season to resort in the mountains. The antics these adults get up to are really something. I laughed at them numerous times and would definitely recommend it to those looking for a fun christmas story. 3 stars.
The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
We had the honor of interviewing Mr. Rothstein recently for a local charity event where he talked about his book and worth leading up to it. The Color of Law is an explosive, alarming history that finally confronts how American governments in the twentieth century deliberately imposed residential racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide. This book is deeply important to anyone looking to further their knowledge on the country’s racist roots. I highly recommend you take a look at this book in 2021. 5 stars
Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini
This books was fascinating but SOOOOOOOOO long. It felt like I was listening to it for weeks on end and I think some of it could have been cut out for sure, but the writing was captivating and the story was fresh. A lot has been written about WWII (Just look at this post on our favorites of that subject) but this story focuses on the before. The years before WWII broke out, the people that tried to stop the atrocities and those that tried to prevent Hitler from coming to power. It was so interested, and frankly scary, to see the slow slide of acceptance from the German people. It was also frightening to see the parallels that seem to be coming about today in America. 4 stars.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
Another wonderful mystery by Agatha Christie. I just adore her mystery books because I am always stumped! They are generally very quick reads, which is why I was able to start and finish this book on Christmas day. Once again Poirot solves the mystery quite quickly and uncovers many family secrets along the way. 3 stars.
The Chicken Sisters by K.J. Dell’ Antonia
Another winner picked by Reese Witherspoon! This was an enjoyable family drama based around two sisters competing in a fictional reality tv food competition. As the competition turns to tricks and sabatoging, the sisters’ war with each other turns ugly. Family secrets just keep getting exposed and the hijinx get better and better. This was the perfect light read to end 2020 with. 3 stars.
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Kirsten read this book and loved it so much. She insisted that I would love it too. I waited until the holiday season so that I would appreciate the book even more and I am so glad that I did. It is such a feel good story that reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day- if it was over Christmas. This is such a feel good holiday romance, you cannot go wrong. 4 stars
I got this book a few months ago when I was just not able to concentrate and somehow this adorable romance got put in my TBR stack. Well, I picked it up at the perfect time! I have been having trouble reading and concentrating and this adorable romance was the PERFECT book for the season. When 16 year old Emmie sends her name and email address attached to a red balloon, it travels over 100 miles and leads her to Lucas. Now 14 years later, Lucas is getting married. The problem? Lucas is her best friend who she is also in love with. This adorable romance is the perfect book to sit and snuggle with this holiday season. Thank you so much to Atria and Netgalley for my copy of this book. 4 stars
Saint X: A Novel by Alexis Schaitkin
I know that there are so many people who loved this book. I liked it but, I didn’t love it. I kept waiting to feel suspense but I just felt that the books took weird twists and turns that were a bit boring. I just didn’t love it. The book had all the ingredients for a great book but it didn’t come together for me. 3 stars.
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
When two women in the hospital in labor and there is one huge cash prize for the first baby born in 1990, one child will be born into a charmed life and the other will be named Minnie Cooper. Just in time for New Year’s, this book is the perfect read. When Minnie meets Quinn on the eve of their thirtieth birthday, well, it is the meet cute of the decade. I can see this rom com on the big screen- hint hint and would love every second. Thank you Netgalley and Putman for my copy of this book. 4 stars
The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo
I am so thankful to Macmillian Audio and Netgalley for my copy of the audiobook. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I loved it. I know the physical copy has beautiful illustrations but, that did not take away from this beautiful little book. Told in 5 minutes tales, each “chapter” tells the story of the life of a different Saint. I had no idea there were so many but I found the writing magical as always. I cannot wait to watch this Netflix series! 4 stars
Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
Things are not what they seem in this psychological thriller that was more creepy than mysterious. I enjoyed this twisted tale. When Selena is on her way home from the office one night, she begins a conversation with a stranger, but nothing is really as it seems. Is she a stranger? Why does she seem familiar?
What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
I guess the theme for this month for the most part are fun, sweet romances that are light and easy to read. This book falls perfectly into that category. I enjoyed this YA romance that checked all the boxes for a feel-good light read. Ben is in the post office with a box of his ex-boyfriends stuff. When Ben and Arthur have a meet cute in the post office, Arthur thinks it’s a sign, or is it? Will he get another chance with this cute stranger from the post office? 3 stars
What I am going to say will be unpopular but, as much as everyone loved this book, I thought that it was about 400 pages too long. I had tried to read this book years ago and could not get into it. I read 120 pages which was only about 10% of the book so this time I decided to listen. The first7 hours and the last 7 hours were great. The fourteen plus hours in between were long, drawn out and hours of talking when NOTHING happened. The book was brilliantly researched and had an amazing premise in which Jake Epping steps into a time hole to stop the assassination of Kennedy. The details were immaculate and somehow, the hours and hours waiting for something to happen were difficult for me. 3 stars.