Mony is one of our huge contributors here when it comes to book recommendations, and reader questions and I AM SO THANKFUL and grateful to have here as part of our book crew. She is so much fun, and she’s a fellow Canadian!! 😀
Let’s check out some of here 2020 comment “life highlights”, shall we? 😉
1. I had a whole day of quiet reading yesterday.
2.Deep cleaning some closets. Sending my kids all the things they wanted us to keep until they “grew up” 😉
3.Beautiful walk last night…trees with twinkle lights in front of a small church
Xmas dinner…you know when things are getting tense…kitchen hot & steamy, one of the sous-chefs sick, veggies done except carrots hard, potatoes thankfully perfect, gravy’s not going well (at all), giant turkey needs carving (30 lbs-really, who does that?), electric knife blades missing, people hungry, everything delayed…
Well, I looked at my husband across the kitchen and said “Stop! time for a tequila shot”. We clinked our glasses and downed the T…felt like a shot of goodness…much better. ☺️
Sidenote from Maryse: when Mony and I bonded over French Canadian Holiday food traditions:
Mony: Grateful to my family…daughter has made all our family’s traditional food…8 French Canadian tourtières, latkes & beef brisket (for “Jewish Eve” for our newly combined traditions on Dec. 24), cooked rum pudding for our Scottish-Canadian boys. All I’ve done is order take-out…pizza & wings, Indian, shawarma. (Apparently, that makes me a I’m super-star. 😉) So, I’ve been just been having fun with the baby…she says she’d rather cook! Ha! Oh, and husband wrapped all the presents. After all those years..aaah… Do you have special dishes for the holidays?
Maryse: Oh how I miss my mom’s and grandmom’s “Tourtières”. That is EXACTLY what I’m craving right now. Meat Tourtières and Potatoes Tourtières. I won’t even talk about pigs feet stew. 😉 Wasn’t a huge fan of it then, but I’d go for it now. 😏
Mony: Food, food, food. Ah, you are tourtière girl!! I love the ancestry of the women behind them – my mom, grandmother, aunts, cousins. Tourtières are more of a challenge now as one person eats kosher…he gets all beef.
Brings up those great debates about what makes the best innards for the T. veal? beef? pork? potatoes? Lots of fun… (We’re not a potato family 😉) And then there is a vegetarian – so none for her – so we make a squash and caramelized onion galette…more dishes to make… https://smittenkitchen.com/2007/10/butternut-squash-and-caramelized-onion-galette/
And yes, Maryse, what is it with all those pork dishes from Montreal…I also remember a pork meatball and pig feet with rich gravy stew…it was really good when I was 10 yrs old. ☺️
Family is pulling together their Christmas lists to share with one another. Mine’s cost-free. Items range from organizing a boozy Xmas family board game, a playlist of everybody’s top 3 songs, and a family holiday vegetarian meal. 🤞 We usually play euchre & have beer, wine or White Russians a la Big Lebowski.
Not a board game per se – it’s Dictionary, a retro game from our past. Just need dictionary, paper & pens. The player opens a page, finds an unusual word and gives 3 possible definitions (incl right one). Players who guess correct definition get a point. We do a few rounds. But really…it’s all about laughing…
Mony: Today was all about playing, crawling & raspberrying with my 7 month old grandson…good workout. He’s now 20 lbs (!!!)…so I could only get in a couple dances with him before arms collapse (today: Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House, Losing my Religion by REM) Taking requests.
MONY’S BEST READS OF 2020
It was a big reading year for me due to the pandemic and isolation. I can’t say enough about how wonderful it was to have Maryse’s Blog and its readers during this period to help me through. A very big thank you, Maryse! 💃💕
And joining Goodreads group reads was also an amazing find, virtually meeting and buddying with many other romance readers from across the world…England, S. Africa, Spain, India, AUS, and many American states and Canadian provinces. 🤗
About the books. While I like mainstream books, my favourites are those that are quirky, off the beaten path and unusual. I love finding books that take us to other places in the world – EUR, NZ, AUS, GB,… Oh, and I’m a GR ratings snob, and generally seek books with ratings 4.1 & over. LOL
Interestingly some of you picked a few of these books as your best in the past & 2020.
This year, I went with categories…sorta like the Oscars…
BEST DUET OF 2020 – Flock & Exodus by Kate Stewart <— Epic story, intriguing, sexy, twists and turns…was a late night binger for me.
Mony: After hearing so much about Flock and Exodus by Kate Stewart from your readers, I gave it a go. And – WOW – what awesome awesome blockbuster books!
Right now, having just finished and been blown away, I can’t really put words together about these books. I will say though it had a fantastic story, outstanding main and secondary characters, hot guys galore, interesting plot twists and mystery, lots of angst & emotion 😲 🤔 😍 😩 ☺️, plus plus plus.
I dare you to start these books and not pull all-nighters… 8 ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ LOL
BEST SERIES – Spotless (Spotless, #1) by Camilla Monk (4.5 GR series) <— Bad ass OCD hero, nerdy heroine, international plot, intrigue, lots of action, quirky, sexy, world travel, criminals as supporting cast …some retro vibes. “A gentleman professional killer with a bad case of OCD and zero tolerance for unsorted laundry, March isn’t there to kill her… yet. He wants the diamond her late mother stole for a sinister criminal organization. Island agrees to help him find it, facing the kind of adversaries who dismember first and ask questions later.” And so begins a 5-book series.
Mony: I’m reading a new series called Spotless (Spotless #1) by Camilla Monk (last book of series now released). It’s about a gentlemanly/hard ass professional killer and a nerdy IT woman…she finds him in her apartment ready to do “bad things” to her, and then things go from there. Edgy, lots of action, funny, travel, compelling characters, great dialogue… Highly recommend.
Mony: Finished the Spotless series (Island Chaptal and The Ancient Aliens’ Treasure #5)…love that couple…adventures of a South African spy/assassin & nerdy/brave techie…quirky/banter. My favourite series of 2020. 👍💕💕
Jeannie S: Hi Mony, I just finished the Spotless series as well and I loved it! I definitely recommend this one as well. The H is a professional killer with a few OCD issues and the h is a nerdy IT engineer. It was a fun read that was very unpredictable as well.
Mony: finished the Rose Gardner Mystery series (9 books) by D. Swank and am missing it. It’s similar to the Island Chaptal series by C. Snow and Storm & Silence series by R. Thier.
Rose is a fantastic (and evolving) character as are the hot guys swirling around her and the secondaries. Humour, suspense and some magic too. 5★
BEST SPORT ROMANCE: Ride (The Wild Sequence, #1) by Harper Dallas (4.3 GR) <— Story about a pro snowboarder & an extreme sports photographer. Strong cast of pro snowboarder friends. Well written – without the cliches you find in most sport romance books. Characters are grounded, real.
Mony: Ride by Harper Dallas. I agree with JulieO…it’s a fabulous read! My top sports romance for this year. Well written – without the cliches you find in most sport romance books. Characters are grounded, real. And like JulieO said, you learn a lot about snowboarding along the way. 5★ for sure.
BEST SCI-FI : The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (4.4 GR) <— Beautiful eerie story. I needed some time afterwards to take it in and breathe again.
BEST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE: Stiff Drink & Hard Liquor by Blair Babylon Duet) (4.4 /4.6 GR) (bad book cover 🤦♀️) <— I really loved this story…for me, it has all the elements for a favourite book. It’s sexy, quirky, multi-layered, has intrigue and suspense, world travel. Bit of HR vibe thrown in. Plot & dialogue clever. (bit slow at the start.) “Texan law intern Genevieve is close to becoming a full barrister when she is assigned the firm’s worst case: a law suit against Arthur Finch-Hatten, six-feet and four-inches of ripped, loaded, hot English nobleman who is wasting his life pouring Cristal on drunk, naked women before flying off in his private jumbo jet to the next party.”
Mony: Been reading some Blair Babylon books, and I’ve found two books that are amazing…part of Runaway Billionaires series. It’s about three good friends who are wealthy, hot and smart.
Stiff Drink & Hard Liquor (about an rakish earl & Texan barrister in London) …have an HR vibe (H is an earl) …It’s longish – reminds me of Rosalind James…but I thought the story was very good.
BEST DOCTOR ROMANCE: Stone Cold Kiwi (New Zealand Ever After, #2) by Rosalind James (4.6 GR) I really loved this story…the gorgeous, sexy, loyal Dr. Matiu and his love for Poppy, a headstrong, witty woman…one of my top book boyfriends. A Jan fave too.
Mony: Stone Cold Kiwi by Rosalind James was absolutely fantastic…lovely doctor book boyfriend story. 5 Big ⭐! Such a down-to-earth, tender, sexy relationship.
…My favourite hero for 2020. …a top book boyfriend Maori doctor. *sigh*
RUNNER-UP: Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
Mony: This is a wonderful book, not too sweet but nicely written…slow at beginning. Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan.
BEST ROCK STAR ROMANCE: Talon by Carian Cole (4.5 GR) <— Odd plot but it works so well. Talon is the highlight as a fantastic book boyfriend.
Mony: I also read a Carian Cole book this weekend. Talon (Ashes & Embers, #4). GR rating was 4.47 so I thought why not. It’s one in a series about a rock band. (great book cover)
This one is about Talon and Asia. They agree to be in a social experiment to get married and live together for 6 months. Weird sounding, I know but it works. The relationship building and chemistry between these two is well done, and Talon as a husband-in-training is wonderful to watch. Secondary band characters (his brothers) supportive.
Loved it. Rated this one 4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
BEST HISTORICAL ROMANCE: True Story (Deverells, #1) by Jayne Fresina (4.1 GR) <— Not your usual HR read. I actually binged on this book until the wee hours of the morning because it was so captivating. Characters are fabulous, and the setting in a castle on an island in Cornwall is perfect & bit gothic. True Deverell is a unique man of his time – I’ve never seen an H like him in any HR novel. A Jan fave too.
Mony: True Story (Deverells #1) by Jayne Fresina is very good, sexy & unique – and for Jan & me, it was a best read for 2020. 5-star
It has the feel of both a CR and HR, largely due to the H’s lack of social norms. Loved it!
BEST YOUNG ADULT (+ BEST BULLY) ROMANCE: Angry God (All Saints High, #3) by L.J. Shen (4.3 GR) <— Love a good bully read. Pure Shen…Vicious’ son. Does not disappoint.
BEST PNR/FANTASY: Raphael (Vampires in America series) by D.B. Reynolds (4.1 GR series) <— Sharp writing, smart PI Cynthia Leighton, and everything you could want in a gorgeous Vampire lord. Reynolds does exceptional job with R’s understated ways, mannerisms, small touches and dialogue. (He almost rivals my fave, Jericho Barrons.) “My Cyn”
Mony: 5★. Looking forward to reading more books in the series – Duncan, who takes up residence in Washington, D.C.; and Lucifer in Montreal (cause it’s close to my home LOL).
SEXIEST ROMANCE: The Cornerstone by Kate Canterbary (4.4 GR) <— Funny, sassy, sexy, sweet and hot.
Mony: Just finished The Cornerstone by Kate Canterbary and loved it! Steamy story about Hot Guy & Sassy Girl as they steer through one night stands into something more. Sassy Girl is great – sharp-witted & a tough nut to crack. H is a great alpha.
Loved the slow burn & Hot Guy’s transformation. Banter between h & H is clever and even sharper in second half. A 4.5-star read (deduction cause too much about h’s family).
Plan to read The Spire (#6 in series)…story about Hot Doctor & Rebel Girl. 🙂 Thanks Jan for mentioning this author!
BEST DARK ROMANCE: Captive by R.J. Lewis <— rich and unique story with layer upon layer of “denouement”…(4.4 GR)
Mony: Captive by R.J. Lewis was an epic read. It has 3 parts and unfolds a striking story about Nixon and Vixen. It’s not a dark as night captivity story (not mafia) but it is gripping, edgy…with a sense of mystery about the roles of villain and victim.
Oh, and Nixon is hot, hot, hot – shades of Mystery Man but bad. This is longer than most books so be prepared. (GR rating 4.5)
My rating 4.5 stars …(kind of book you don’t come up for air…bit long-ish but worth it)
RUNNER-UP: Cruel Idols by Sorcha Black <— a bit uneven but a diamond in the rough. Unique, odd, quirky, BDSM, F/M/M with lots of banter.
BEST BOSS ROMANCE: Boss Man Bridegroom by Meghan Quinn (4.4 GR) <— Great story about a new assistant who is crazy smart & intuitive, working to improve her reclusive/OCD boss’ work and life. Sexy, banter, belly laughs.
Runner-up: Boss in the Bedsheets by Kate Canterbary. A Jan fave too.
Mony: Boss in the Bedsheets by Kate Canterbary…a great boss book…great banter!
MOST READ AUTHOR – J.A. Huss – 20 books in 2020… love her edgy style! Encouraged by a friend to try what she calls a “completionist” reading strategy, I steadily read one Huss series after another over the fall.
From Rook & Ronin series to Ford Aston/ Spencer Shrike to The Company to Creeping Beautiful. And the Mister and the Anarchy Chained series. All her books have some kind of link with one another – artwork, crazy characters. Fabulous books. Glad I did it (like running a marathon but you can eat chips). A richer reading experience, for sure.
FAVOURITE NEW-TO-ME AUTHORS
FAVOURITE UNDERRATED BOOKS
1. A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, #1) by Darynda Jones
Mony: Darynda Jones also knocked it out of the park with A Bad Day for Sunshine (Sunshine Vicram, #1).
Like a fine wine, it has a complex bouquet of Rock Chick, Fargo, Kate Daniels and more…🥂🥂
So well written with twists and turns – couldn’t stop turning the pages! So sad when it was over… (Not a PRN nor kinda kitchy like her Charley Davidson series)
Fabulous book – Sharp, tightly written & rich story with amazing main and secondary characters with some magic realism (can read as stand alone)
Sunshine Vicram returns to Del Sol, New Mexico with her teen daughter Aurora. As the new sheriff, she is faced with innumerable situations & crimes – some crazy funny and others possibly deadly. Enter sexy almost-old-flame Levi Ravinder and a hunky US Marshall, both elevens on a scale of one to blazing inferno, and the normally savvy sheriff is quickly in over her head.
Mony: Only read Everything Girl so far (so many books to read LOL). I recommend it to all my book friends and they’ve all loved it. I must read Rocket Science soon!
Love Mony’s book taste? Check out more of her favorites:
➔➔➔ Looking for more of our favorite recommendations? Browse our “Ultimate Favorites Lists” here. Are you in the mood for a certain kind of story? Browse our favorite “genre/trope categories” here and our reader favorites lists too.
➔➔➔ Do you have your “Best of 2020 list” for us? Send it to me here. 😀