Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies. I started 2020 off fairly strong with a big goal to read way more books than I ended up completing. But like everyone else, navigating through a pandemic proved to be a big challenge. Especially while quarantined and socially distanced at home with 2 toddlers. I also fell behind on my book reviews, hence this one being a compilation of my 2020 reads.
This year I have found my joy in reading again. I love that it can take me to a relaxing place that can also escape reality. So here’s to another year and more books to read!
Laurie doesn’t believe in love at first sight. But then, on a snowy day in December, she sees a man through her bus window she’s knows is the one. Their eyes lock and there’s a moment of acknowledgement before the bus pulls away. Laurie spends the next year searching all of London for him. However, she doesn’t find him. After that year goes by, she attends a Christmas party where her best friend, Sarah, introduces her to her new boyfriend, Jack … and there he is. The man from the bus stop. From there, it’s a ten year journey with the three of them through friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a heartwarming and moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
Starting off this book review to say that this was my favorite book I ready in 2020. Highly recommend!
Anna Fox lives alone in New York City where she is a recluse unable to leave her home. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, reminiscing about happier times … and spying on her neighbors. The Russells have recently moved into the house across the street: a father, a mother and their teenage son. They appear to be the perfect family, but when Anna is watching out her window one night, she sees something she shouldn’t have. Because of her mental instability and drinking she has a hard time determining if it was real. But really, no one and nothing is what it seems.
This is a true thriller with lots of twists and turns where I was going back and forth on what I thought was happening. It definitely kept me guessing with a crazy ending but did start off slow with various parts dragging on through Anna’s day drinking and episodes trying to leave her home so I rated it accordingly.
Let seven simple secrets, biblical wisdom, and tender stories of both men and women inspire you to be the wife your husband longs for. Sharon Jaynes shares the unique role you can play in making your marriage the joy of both your lives. A happy marriage takes work, but the end result is worth it. These chapters will encourage you to:
pray life-changing prayers
be his best cheerleader
help ease his stress
safeguard your marriage
initiate intimate friendship
This was a book I read as part of a Bible Study. It was very interesting to talk about everyone’s perspectives. Lots of relatable anecdotes as well as “ah-ha” moments. Really easy read. Would have rated higher, however some points overlapped and were a little repetitive.
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to the waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets that had been long submerged. Left behind by all of this is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl who is now in the care of her mother’s sister. Her aunt had vowed long ago never to return to this place but here she is. The water may be calm on the surface, but it holds a lot of secrets.
I read this book because I loved The Girl on the Train. This story holds the same emotions of being made to feel a certain way about characters early on just be made to feel more and more unsure the more you read and as secrets surface. The town is full of lots of them. I rated this one they way I did because of how it jumped from past memories to present time and how some chapters were told from the perspectives of different characters — at times it was very hard to follow or I had to go back to figure out who was “talking”. I’d say it took me about 2/3 of the book to get used to the writing style and actually start putting together what was happening. It took me longer to get through this book for that reason though the pages did turn quicker the closer I got to the end. I find myself curious to read other books by an author when I find a book by one that I like so that’s what happened in that case. If you’re like me, give it a read. If not, there are some better thrillers out there.
Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. However, those whispers have always been ignored, swept under the rug and hidden away by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go. They have decided enough is enough. Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office.
I did not like this book. It made me feel very uncomfortable and I struggled to finish it as a lot of time was spent on the inappropriateness that can happen in the workplace. I’ve never been one to just give up on a book so I did read it in it’s entirety but phew. Part of me understands why it’s in Reese’s Book Club because of it’s fictional representation of the #metoo movement. But I also didn’t enjoy Where the Crawdad’s Sing which is an unpopular opinion so maybe it’s just me on this one too.
After the death of her grandmother, a Cuban-American woman, Marisol, travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity and finds a family secret hidden since the revolution.
Havana, 1958 – The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba’s high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country’s growing political unrest. That is, until she embarks on a secret affair with a revolutionary.
Miami, 2017 – Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa’s last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country where she was born.
Arriving in Havana, Marisol thought she would be greeted by Cuba’s timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she’ll have to find her own sense of courage within.
This was a long book but a great read! Chapters jump back and forth between past and present time however, it’s not confusing and is very well done. It did start a little slow for me but I thoroughly enjoyed Marisol’s journey while in Cuba and the love story that starts to unfold.
The second book in Chanel Cleeton’s Cuba series, this book is from the point of view of Beatriz, Marisol’s aunt. The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez is a sugar heiress whose family lost everything during the Cuban Revolution. She was recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro’s inner circle and entered the dangerous world of espionage.
As the Cold War grows over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future.
Another great read! This was a page turner for me with the CIA driven story line and I also learned a lot about Cuban history. There is a third book that has also recently been released called The Last Train to Key West that I will be reading soon too!
Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret and carrying the burden of having a surgery that will make her unable to have children. Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet, especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. She finds him very attractive and enjoys his sense of humor. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as the attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to resist.
The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility. I literally laughed out loud during various parts. This was a quick read with an ending that gives you all the warm and fuzzies!
Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back. Well, she’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person.
I loved getting to read more about the characters in The Friend Zone! I did rank it slightly lower just because the love story is a little farfetched. It’s not practical and is what you’d expect from the perfect chick flick, but it still makes your heart happy and is a good read if you’re looking for something light. This author just released another book last month called Life’s Too Short so it’s definitely going on my reading list.
Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England. It’s not the place where people are murdered, but it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you. Tom Fitzwilliam, a local school’s headmaster, is a beloved neighbor. Joey Mullen, who moves in on the street, quickly develops an intense infatuation with this charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie, a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5, excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father. One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother, whose mental health has been deteriorating in recent years, is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her. Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary about her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…
I remember this being an interesting thriller living up to the quote on the cover of being tricky, clever and unexpected. However, it must now have made the biggest impression on me as I don’t remember what happened at the end. Oops! Aside from that, I have become a fan of Lisa Jewell books, therefore I have been working through her books and plan to continue reading them.
Irene Steele’s idyllic life (perfect house, perfect husband, and perfect family) is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her husband has been found dead … on St. John island. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery … her husband had a secret second family. As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband’s death, she is falls into what feels like a web of intrigue and deceit that will involve the entire family.
This is the first book of the Paradise trilogy by Elin Hilderbrand. I have read other books by Elin prior to this and enjoy her style of writing. I also like how she intertwines characters across most of her books. I could tell after reading this one, that it was going to be a really good series and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next book!
After uprooting her life in the States, Irene Steele has just settled in at the villa on St. John where her husband Russ had been living a double life. But after a visit from the FBI, Irene once again learns just how little she knew about the man she loved. With help from their friends, Irene and her sons set up their lives while evidence shows that the helicopter crash that killed Russ may not have been an accident. Meanwhile, the island watches this drama unfold … including the driver of a Jeep with tinted windows who seems to be shadowing the Steele family. As a storm gains strength in the Atlantic, surprises are in store for the Steeles. At last all will be revealed about the secrets and lies that brought Irene and her sons to St. John … and the truth that transformed them all.
Again, the second book of the series didn’t disappoint! Literally couldn’t get my hands on the third book fast enough to see what happens next!
A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life when she discovered that her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news … he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too. Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life (and death) of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.
Hands down my favorite books by Elin Hildebrand to date! I loved the suspense and mystery incorporated into this series as opposed to just the typical romance or normal trials a family can face. Highly recommend!
Jessica tells quite the story of her life — from growing up in 1980s Texas where she was sexually abused by the daughter of a family friend to unsuccessfully auditioning for the Mickey Mouse Club at age 13 with Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling and going on to sign a record deal with Columbia Records later marrying 98 Degrees’ Nick Lachey. She talks about her struggles in life such as the pressure to support her family as a teenager, divorcing Nick, enduring an emotionally abusive relationship with John Mayer, being body-shamed and going through bouts of heavy drinking. But she ends on a positive note, discussing her successful Jessica Simpson clothing line and her marriage with Eric Johnson, with whom she now has three children.
As a young teen, I enjoyed Jessica’s Simpson’s music and owned her CDs. I remember her tv show with Nick Lachey and all of the cringe-worthy moments. This book takes a deep dive into her life, most of which I didn’t know. Especially how toxic her relationship was with John Mayer. Just wow. I also didn’t know how much of a role drinking played in her life and am happy she is now on the other side living a happy and healthy life.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with the thought that she is finally going to know who she is. She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well… Twenty-five years ago, police were called with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a note. And the four other children reported to live there were gone.
This book is the story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets. This was one of the craziest thrillers I have ever read. Some parts were dark, some were twisted and others literally made my jaw drop while I was reading. Highly recommend this one if you enjoy psychological thrillers too!
When Coach John Wooden graduated from eighth grade his father gave him a handwritten card and said, “Son, try to live up to this.” On the card, his father had written seven simple yet profound life principles:
Be true to yourself
Make friendship a fine art
Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible
Make each day your masterpiece
Build a shelter against a rainy day by the life you live
Give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day
These principles were the key to Coach Wooden’s greatness and his goodness. Through powerful stories and advice, this book shares the wisdom that made Wooden happy and successful.
This book encourages, challenges, and motivates to build these principles into our own lives. My husband was given this book by someone he works with so I picked it up to read it since we had it on the shelf. I learned several things from sports history that I didn’t know and really enjoyed this book for something different!
Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to “make it”. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates – Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is definitely not boyfriend material – and is struggling with her feelings for a guy in her acting class. Meanwhile, she dreams of doing “important” work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won’t call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.
Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming book about finding yourself and finding love. Really cute, lighthearted read!