Favorite Reads 2020 Part 2

Yesterday’s post slowed down my computer a bit, so I’ve realized I’m going to need to add a day 3, which will be entirely the YA category. But today, we have quite a few fun categories, so let’s get to them!

Literary Fiction and Women’s Fiction

Have You Seen Luis Velez, Catherine Ryan Hyde

Blurb:

Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Not at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.

Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to.

I loved the relationship between Raymond and Mildred. This one gave me all the feels. Full Review Here

What You Wish For, Katherine Center

Blurb:

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.
But she wasn’t always that way.
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.
But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before—at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him—but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school—and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love—which is the riskiest move of all.

What You Wish For has your emotions going from low to high, from tears to laughing. It was a great read. Full Review Here

The Lost Girls of Devon, Barbara O’Neal

Blurb:

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

I first read O’Neal last year and I fell in love. I was so excited to read an ARC of this and it did not disappoint. Full Review Here

Anxious People, Fredrik Backman
Literary Fiction/Humor

Blurb:

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

I am still feeling this book. It’s incredibly beautiful. Full Review Here

The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
I wasn’t sure what category to put this in. It’s Literary, but there’s a bit of time travel, and soul searching.

Blurb:

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

I didn’t review this one because I didn’t have the words and I still don’t. The book is absolutely incredible, it’s emotional, and you *must* read this.

Fantasy/Paranormal

Redemption, S. Usher Evans

Blurb:

Jack has been taken to the Underworld by Bael. With no other options, Cam and Anya set off to Mexico City to tangle with the noxes, hoping to charm or fight their way into a second gateway to the demonic lands. But once there, Lotan, the son of the slain original nox demons, has different plans. He wants Bael dead, releasing the iron grip he has on both the human world and demon one–and Anya’s the only one with the power to do it. But does she have the will?

The final book in the Demon Spring trilogy takes readers deeper into the demonic Underworld and into Anya’s past.

This is such a super fun series, and I know Sush has been working on more which I can’t wait for. Full Review Here

Bring Them Home, Julia DeBarrioz
Paranormal/Romance

Blurb:

When women go missing in New Mexico, bounty hunter Dakota del Toro knows exactly where to find them.
The hard part is taking them back.
The powerful vampire alcaldes and the werewolf gang los Lobos Diablos don’t relinquish their captives easily, but when a chance encounter with an irascible bandido turned revolucionario affords an opportunity, Dakota will risk life and limb to bring the missing home—even if it means working with the vampire who broke her heart, and might have designs on her immortal soul.

I talk a lot about Dakota, because she is a badass heroine. My absolute favorite and this is an incredible series. Full Review Here

The Once and Future Witches, Alix E. Harrow
Fantasy/Historical/LGBTQ+

Blurb:

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters―James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna―join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote―and perhaps not even to live―the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

An homage to the indomitable power and persistence of women, The Once and Future Witches reimagines stories of revolution, motherhood, and women’s suffrage—the lost ways are calling.

I took my time reading this one because I know the pain of finishing one of Alix’s books too fast. This is a powerful read that I have in ebook and Hardcover with a signed bookplate. Full Review Here

Spellbreaker Charlie N. Holmberg
Historical Fantasy

Blurb:

The orphaned Elsie Camden learned as a girl that there were two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those, like her, born with the ability to break them. But as an unlicensed magic user, her gift is a crime. Commissioned by an underground group known as the Cowls, Elsie uses her spellbreaking to push back against the aristocrats and help the common man. She always did love the tale of Robin Hood.

Elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey is one elusive spell away from his mastership when he catches Elsie breaking an enchantment. To protect her secret, Elsie strikes a bargain. She’ll help Bacchus fix unruly spells around his estate if he doesn’t turn her in. Working together, Elsie’s trust in—and fondness for—the handsome stranger grows. So does her trepidation about the rise in the murders of wizards and the theft of the spellbooks their bodies leave behind.

For a rogue spellbreaker like Elsie, there’s so much to learn about her powers, her family, the intriguing Bacchus, and the untold dangers shadowing every step of a journey she’s destined to complete. But will she uncover the mystery before it’s too late to save everything she loves?

I yelled in joy when I got accepted to the blog tour for this because I had been waiting for release day for months. I cannot wait to start the second book. Full Review and Blog Tour Here

Dystopian

Master Class, Christina Dalcher

Blurb:

It’s impossible to know what you will do…

Every child’s potential is regularly determined by a standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it’s off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.

When your child is taken from you.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena’s perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.

And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.

Dalcher writes inclusive characters. Master Class is a punch to the gut and a fantastic read. Full Review Here

Comic

Cat’s Cafe, Matt Tarpley

Welcome to Cat’s Café, a neighborhood coffee shop where all are welcome! Based on the popular webcomic, Cat’s Café introduces readers to the adorable denizens of this world. There’s Penguin, who has a bit of a coffee problem; Rabbit, whose anxiety sometimes overwhelms him; Axolotl, whose confidence inspires his friends; the always-supportive Cat, who provides hot drinks made with love and a supportive ear for anyone’s troubles; and many, many more. With a sensitive take on real issues and a gentle, positive outlook, Cat’s Café is about the power of acceptance, friendship, and love … and delicious cups of coffee.

My friends know I’m obsessed with Cat’s Cafe. The characters are perfectly flawed. It’s a serious mood booster. I fell in love with the comic because of rabbit, and now I love all of them. Especially Kiwi. I have a few framed and signed comics, the book, and a stuffed Kiwi. Full Review Here

That’s it for today. Come back tomorrow for the final installment of my favorite books of 2020, where the list will be entirely YA.

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