So I’m always thrilled to see her list ’cause I use it as my TBR list. Tee hee!
But first!! A few highlights from her CRAZY BUSY year this year. Tasha has been in a perpetual frenzy of organizing, sorting and cleaning, list making, arts and crafts (and cool scarf and scrunchie creations), and all the household stuff she keeps up with (with her kids and pets – yep… even a lizard that she decorated his home for Christmas) <— LOL!!! I LOVE IT!
Plus, she’s been organizing so much family time. At times, overwhelming… but it sounds wonderful too. ❤️
1. It’s my birthday week. I don’t usually celebrate all week, but I feel the need to be extra this year. 😜
2. I wrapped all afternoon into the evening yesterday. It was the only wrapping I’d done this far and I was so stressed it wasn’t done sooner. I’m not done but I feel SO much better! In my organizing of gifts, I discovered I didn’t buy enough for my oldest so I scrambled on Amazon last night and got a few things. Fingers crossed they come in time. She was the easiest bc she didn’t really want anything and also the hardest bc she didn’t really need/want anything. 😂
3. These next 3 days I will be organizing up a storm and cleaning. There is sooo much crap build up here, it’s affecting my zen which is super hard to find anyway. So, my hopes are to be cleansed by the 23rd and then shut myself off from the world for a week. Just chill with the kids and watch movies, play and read books.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Tasha J & Merry Christmas my friend! 😀
Hey Maryse, it’s almost Christmas AND almost time for that fresh start of a New Year! I hope your’s are great!! I’m doubtful I’ll finish anymore books this year and instead of cleaning/organizing, I’m procrastinating by making this list. 😀
Ok, here’s my best of 2020’s list in no particular order….
1.) The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James <— “I could’ve stayed at The Sun Down longer and I’m still sad it’s over. If I could’ve flipped the pages slower, I would have. I was so absorbed in this book, it had the perfect blend of thriller/mystery/ghosts and with characters I really connected with and wouldn’t mind seeing more of. I’ll read anything Simone writes!”
2.) Live in Love by Lauren Akins & Mark Dagostino <— “I miss reading about love and this covered all the bases for me. I inhaled it, I was filled with positivity and good energy and goosebumps and heartbreak and faith, honestly there’s a lot about God and it was special, that’s the word I’m going with, reading about Lauren and her family’s personal experiences with Him and their faith.
It wasn’t super relatable, for me personally, but, does it really need to be? That wasn’t the message here. It sure did sound like a dream childhood and I really enjoyed reading about her experiences in every stage of her and Thomas’s life thus far.”
3.) The Herd by Andrea Bartz <— I love not knowing just what to expect in a book, especially a mystery thriller. This one was full of mystery, secrets, and drama between friends. We’re told the story through both Katie and Hana’s pov and the girl power angle was awesome, unique to me, and set up this picture of togetherness, strong bonds between women in a man’s world, the history this group of powerful women share in particular.
I loved being in their heads learning the dynamics of everything within their group , their own feelings of self worth, love, etc. I was fully immersed and didn’t want to put it down every time I picked it back up, which is exactly what I want in a good book. The secrets, the mystery was a bonus and kept me flipping and guessing until the very end. And I was not disappointed with the outcome. Yes, the characters are unlikeable at times, but they’re human.
4. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson <— A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is well written with many characters, jumping from Pip herself, to her interviews and transcripts for her senior capstone project – the subject matter based on the murder of fellow classmate, Andie Bell and subsequent death of her boyfriend, Sal Singh.
My favorite part of this book was Pip’s thought process. It felt like we were of the same brain along the way connecting dots, running the questions through this way and that trying to work it out. I was right along with her the entire time saying, “and what if to this/that, don’t forget this person said this, etc.” There wasn’t a gaping hole of breaks where we jump into a side story more and the mystery takes a bit of a backseat where I’m left frustrated she’s not checking out a certain angle or something is going on in the background and she’s too naive to pay attention..<- that was very specific. 🤣
What I’m trying to say is that…. It was refreshing, really being *with* Pip every step of the way, as focused and overachieving as she is. As heavy as the subject matter is, there’s a certain lightness to it which I enjoyed. Pip was funny, I liked her friends, her family dynamic was the cutest.
5. The Other People by CJ Tudor <— Brilliant! I went into this book excited to read another thriller, even more so because it was written by the same author of The Chalk Man, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There is a particular scene in it (The Chalk Man) that I wish I could erase from my brain (it made me squeamish), but it was memorable.
The Other People started off with a bang and didn’t let up until the very end. Oh, what a twisted web we weave! I wasn’t sure if this was some thriller with paranormal elements or what was going to come of everything happening. But, I was fully along for the ride. Literally, in Gabe’s camper van untangling the mystery right along with him. There were several surprises though-out and I caught myself a few times saying, “What the heck is going on?” I was upset, angry and empathetic to what the characters felt, their reasons for doing things they did or living like they had. Frustrated at not having answers, frustrated with answers yet blown away by the puzzle itself.
I have to say this is my favorite book of this author’s. This is story telling at its finest.
6. Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters <— This was the perfect feel good read. An ode to all rom coms that I’d actually love to see on screen. It had me laughing from the start and smiling throughout. I loved every reference for the meet cutes and Evie and friends were so fun to know.
In a way, it gave me a bit of a Bridget Jones’ feel. I’ve never read the book and it’s been ages since I’ve seen the movie, but it was such good fun that that’s what I thought of to compare it to. Of course it’s uniquely it’s own. Would love to see more from this author! I wouldn’t even mind if we got a book from another of the leads in this book.
7. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager <— I liked that this jumped between the book (past) and Maggie (present). It gave the same/different perspectives to all the events and happenings taking place. I wasn’t that taken with Maggie’s character as a whole. I found her a little unlikeable, unforgiving and dramatic. The house was my favorite character. All of its secrets were the best part. The haunting creeped me out and I preferred to read in the light. As things rapidly unfolded, I literally had some jaw dropping moments.
This was one I didn’t want to put down and read so easily, like watching a movie in book form. This was my first book of Riley Sanger’s and I’m looking forward to reading more.
8. Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon <— *sigh* I’m in love with this book. This book starts with a bang, a Big Bang and then with the first chapter we go back to how we got there beginning in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1853. I can’t say I’ve read many books set on the Oregon Trail, but I can say that I’m happier to read about it than have lived it. 😂
This tale is so descriptive and atmospheric that I could truly envision it as if I were watching it on screen or there my very self. And the characters, I just loved the May family, John Lowry, Naomi, The Caldwells, the Shoshoni, the Dakotah, the entire wagon train and those we meet along the way. It is a story of hardship, adventure, grief, love, understanding and compassion, divide between races, wisdom and strength. I could see so many similarities between the way things were then and they way things are now, both in the way we treat people and that women are the real MVPs, (sure, men are great too ;)) and it is a great reminder of what we should learn from the past.
This is a story I could have easily read in a couple sittings, had time allowed, but I am grateful that I got to savor it instead. I was surely emotional at the end and that is exactly how I want to feel when finishing a book that made a mark on my heart. The Author’s Note at the end was a treat that gives a peek of insight as to the inspiration for several characters and little historic tidbits to further enlighten the reader on how this amazing story came to be.
9. The Guest List by Lucy Foley <— This was a really fun read for me. I started it specifically while I stayed at a castle for a murder mystery dinner because how could I not? I enjoyed reading it from so many different character’s povs because, if done well (and this was for me), it only further immerses me in the story and let’s me get lost in all the angles.
I loved the atmosphere, the spooky, dangerous island, and enjoyed all the little secrets and character ticks as they unfolded. I really was shocked at one point, didn’t see it coming, and the rest was easy to figure out from there, but I didn’t mind. I was thoroughly entertained. This was like a fun game of Clue.
10. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman <— I’ve not read a book I didn’t love from him yet. This was a fast read for me, character driven and everyone was flawed. But then we dig deeper and you’re more compassionate to their flaws and all the while untangling the mystery, it’s not a mystery book though, of who the robber is. He is an expert of making you feel.
Tasha J: I’ve just finished Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. I’m emotionally spent, as is typical when finishing one of his books. It took a minute to get into the way it’s written, in the beginning, but boy when things start getting serious and coming together, 🥺🥰😢.
I laughed, came close to crying, and totally connected because it’s relatable. I am an anxious person, but also it’s just human.
11. Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson <— Another quick read for me. Once started, I didn’t want to put it down. It was easy to get in Enchanted’s head and understand how she got into the position she did and horrifying all the same. Really great read.
Tasha J: It reads super fast, sucks you into the story totally. It reminds me of things too. Like super reminiscent of a book we read, kind of, like a mix of books, but I can’t say which bc I don’t want to spoil it. And I feel like a mix of things I’ve seen in the media over the years. Gah, I wanna say it! Read it so I can say you see it too right?
Sharing a quote from Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson cuz it’s fall and all-
“I feel like fall. I am a heap of dead leaves, blackened, moist, reeking of mold. Rotting apples, dying grass, early darkness chasing away the sun.”
12. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab <— *sigh* The prose in this one! Girl knows how to write! I know I will never forget Addie.
Tasha J: Addie LaRue. I feel so fulfilled, just the perfect read for this time of year and SO beautifully written. The years she spent making this (almost 10) really show.
But, I still have feelings and thoughts! I wanna discuss. Lol!
13. & 14. From Blood and Ash AND A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout. These gave me Sarah J Maas vibes. Awesome fantasies that I couldn’t put down and was dying for more. Still dying here. Till April. :’(
Sidenote: Here’s a fun comment when she first started reading these. 😉
Tasha J: I picked up From Blood and Ash yesterday and read until 4am only to get up for a soccer game at 8. By 1:30 I kept telling myself 10 more minutes, but I couldn’t stop.
I now have to start book 2 today but I don’t trust myself to go to bed on time. Can’t start it yet as I decided on a whim to fall-ify my outdoors and start a bunch of crafts I don’t have time for. 😅
15. House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J Maas <— This was so different from the fae fantasies I’ve read from her. Even the world was different. More modern, a different kind of heroine and hero. So it felt fresh and I really liked it. I love how Sarah build’s a story and the characters suck you in. I’m more than ready for book 2 here also!!
16. The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones <— I binge read this one and it felt so good! Not terrifyingly spooky (I think bc it’s YA) but I loved the atmosphere and the adventure.
Tasha J: I read The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones over the last few days. It felt good to start and finish a book in less than a week! I was invested in the story, but it wasn’t as scary or creepy as I’d hoped, likely bc it was YA. Now, I dk what I’m in the mood for and here I am back at square 1.
17. The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker <— I’m late to the game on this one, but I definitely see what all the hype was about! The chemistry, the atmosphere…I should go back to Alaska (In the other books ;))
18. Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone <— It says on GR I finished this January 1st, but I’m not the best at keeping things organized. If this is on my list from last year also, it’s that good! ;P I got a kick out of the heroine in this one.
Sidenote from Maryse: Yep! This is might just be one that you finished this year ’cause I just found this old comment from December 29th and you were still at the beginning.
Tasha J: thought I’d give Jane Doe a whirl again. I was only 3% in, I think. And now I’m hooked and don’t wanna put it down. She’s so unique and I know it’s a thriller, but I think she’s kinda funny.
19. Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd <— This was my 1st book by this author and I love how she writes banter!! I was giggling and snorting, lots of smiling. I love the grump and the heroine. Her antics were the best. Such a fun holiday read.
Tasha J: “’Twas the night before Thanksgiving when all through the office, not a person was stirring, not even Alba from Human Resources trying to get in the last of her ten thousand steps.” Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd.
If anything could revive my Christmas spirit a little, it’s this book! Love the banter. The heroine cracks me up and I love how she pushes the grumps buttons!
20. Playing with Fire by L.J. Shen <— I loved this one!! Something about it gave me those old school, nostalgic feels. I need to read more from this author. The chemistry was perfect between these 2 characters and loved the food truck, the fighting ring, the heroine, all the hurt these 2 suffered hit me in the feels. Wonderfully written.
Sidenote: fun comments from when Tasha J was still reading this book:
Tasha J: decided on Playing With Fire- there’s a food truck- with fish tacos, that so reminds me of our trip to Panama City Beach last year, when I raved about the fish taco truck we visited there. I’m going back just for that alone. 😂
Tasha J: So, I have literally 19% left of Playing With Fire. The book I started yesterday about this time. Yep, I’ve been all consumed. It’s so well written and I loooove it!! I’ve so been missing the new adult/college underground fighter trope, but even better, the characters feel more unique to me. I’m not annoyed at all, lol. That’s harsh, but after reading so many of these books, it’s usually about the same formula every time. I’m not even skimming the smexy scenes, not at all. 😳 I went to bed at 7 last night, stayed up till 2. This is becoming a habit.
And I think that completes my list, though I feel like I’m forgetting something. Hope 2021 brings some really good ones too!!
Like Tasha’s book taste? Check out more of her favorites:
- Reader Favorites – Tasha’s Best Books of 2017
- Reader Favorites – Tasha J’s Best Books of 2018 List
- Reader Favorites – Tasha J’s Best Books of 2019 List
- Reader Favorites – Tasha J’s Top 20 Books of 2020 List
➔➔➔ 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. 😀