And just like that, it’s the end of 2020. I’ve had a quiet December, since I had three weeks off from grad school and have been really back to being home the majority of time with the pandemic, aside from running some errands and going on long walks. I didn’t necessarily mind being home because I deep dived into reading and TV. I’m hoping to squeeze in at least one more book before the New Year. I am super bummed that I won’t be getting together with friends this NYE, but I might spend my NYE reading until midnight.
I felt like I read a lot of this month, but I didn’t realize I read a total of 15 books (so far)! I haven’t been able to read this much since the summer, given my full grad course schedule, clinical practice, and work. Obviously being off from school and spending time at home helped my reading life, but I read at least 3 of the following books during the last two weeks of the semester and definitely procrastinated on some final work, oops. I do have mini reviews for the majority of the books below coming in January, so I decided to change up my wrap up style (I either give some brief thoughts about each book or say nothing at all) with some highlights.
I hope everyone has been enjoying time off over the holiday season. I mentioned last week in my favorite adult fiction and non-fiction books of 2020 post that I should’ve had a review posted on this past Saturday … but I’ll be totally honest & admit that I unexpectedly took a laptop break from Tuesday into Sunday afternoon. I’ve been off from school and work for the past 2 weeks, but it wasn’t until Christmas Eve Eve (yes, it’s absolutely a thing) that I really minimized my time on my laptop and ended up not turning it back on for nearly five days. If you’re someone like me who has been glued to her laptop screen between school and work this year, I highly recommend taking a break from the screen this week. I also completely admit I got distracted by a few books AND Bridgerton on Netflix!
Anyway, today I’ll be sharing my final favorites post of 2020 with my favorite contemporary romances of the year! I shared my favorite young adult books of 2020 last Wednesday. I decided to save my contemporary romance favorites for my final favorites wrap up because contemporary romance was my absolute favorite genre in 2020. So many of the books below had the perfect blend of fluff and distraction I craved, while also often having depth and really unique premises. Out of my three favorites post this year, I had the most difficult time narrowing down my favorite contemporary romances between absolute favs and honorable mentions.
Favorite Contemporary Romances of 2020
Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
If there was only one book on this list I could put in every reader’s hands, it would be Hannah Orenstein’s Head Over Heels. Following a former elite gymnast who’s tasked with coaching an Olympic hopeful, this book was so strong as a contemporary itself because of its plot, setting, and character dynamics, but was so enriched because of the relationship between the female and male leads. Head Over Heels 110% solidified Hannah Orenstein as one of my all-time favorite authors.
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
I chose one book as my ultimate #1 favorite in my 2020 YA favorites list, but my favorite romance of the year is seriously a toss up between Head Over Heels and Sarah Hogle’s debut, You Deserve Each Other. I often say that some of my contemporary romances have funny moments, but You Deserve Each Other is seriously the funniest and most sarcastic contemporary romance I’ve ever read. If only one book could have the ‘rom-com’ label, it’s this one. You Deserve Each Other follows two fiancés on the brink of separation – something I haven’t read in a book before- and I absolutely loved following this dynamic.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Emily Henry’s Beach Read rightfully took the contemporary romance world by storm this summer and honestly throughout 2020! This summer romance between two writers might become my new annual kick off to summer reading & beach reading season.
The Honey Don’t List by Christina Lauren
I’ve mentioned before on the blog that while Christina Lauren’s newer releases tend to get mixed reviews (especially from early CLo fans), but I’ve been such a fan of their newer books, including The Honey Don’t List. This Fixer Upper inspired romancefollowing a fictional home renovation show’s two personal assistants totally met its synopsis – how can I a bookworm not love a book about a book tour?? – and introduced me to my new favorite CLo protagonist.Read More »
I tend to try and decide what YA book was truly my #1 favorite out of the year, and it was no less easy to do so in 2020. 2020 was truly a fantastic year of YA contemporary. I really didn’t embrace fantasy in 2020, so it makes sense that nearly, if not all, of the books on this list are indeed contemporary. This might be more of a sentiment to share in one of my final 2020 wrap-ups, but 2020 (to say the least) was a year about embracing what you love as much as you can and for me, this was contemporary books!
I think this year’s favorites are truly books that have unique premises that also nail everything else I look for in my YA reads, mostly self-growth, relationships, family, and a good romance or two. My YA this year was also really about solidifying some authors as my favorite authors with their new releases and also introducing myself to some new-to-me authors that have also become auto-read authors too!
Favorite YA Books of 2020
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Thinking about Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute makes me want to make a grilled cheese and pan of monster cookies and then lay under a blanket and reread it! Tweet Cute is the first book on this list of many with the enemies-to-lovers trope that I absolutely loved – even though the leads, Pepper and Jack, were more rivals than enemies (if that makes sense) in my eyes because I truly just sensed the chemistry between them and little to no animosity. The family restaurant inspired premise and rivalry was executed so,so well.
More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
Like many of the books here, More Than Maybe was honestly just a perfect read. It’s either hit or miss for me when it comes to YA books with such a music-inspired premise, but Erin Hahn’s writing also knocks this sub-genre in YA out of the park for me. I literally immediately starting reread You’d Be Mine after finishing More Than Maybe and I loved it even more this second time around. More Than Maybe was both so light and swoon-worthy while also tackling future ambitions and complicated family dynamics.
What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
What I Like About You is the perfect love letter to book blogging and the YA community. I read What I Like about You honestly during the worst part of my personal life this year and it just bought me so much joy. Its romance was so fluffy and cute, and the book also delves into Halle’s friendship, family, and her relationship with Judaism. The book overall just captures so much of how I feel as a reader and blogger. While I got my blogging start in college vs. Halle getting her start in I believe high school, her feelings about blogging and reading bought me back to my teenage bookish self and my current blogger (and still reader) self. Also, make sure you have a cupcake close by as you read this one!
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Speaking of books where you might have to a baked treat or five close by while reading, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow made me want to eat its food & desserts right off the page. Following a girl whose dream is to run her family’s Cuban-inspired Miami bakery but is instead sent to England for the summer, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow was this perfect blend of coziness while also tackling grief and self growth. I’m so happy so many readers are just loving this one and it totally deserves to be a Reese’s Book Club pick.Read More »
December is always one of my favorite book blogging times of the year – if, not my favorite – because I truly enjoy wrap-up season. Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared my most anticipated young adult and contemporary romance releases of 2021. It’s now time to move on to stage 2 of December wrap-up season, aka favorites time! I want to preface this favorites post by saying that my schedule is going to be a little wonky for the next 2 weeks. Although I won’t be venturing out of my home much for the holiday season, I adjusted my schedule since I do celebrate Christmas and want to have my end of year wrap ups posted by New Year’s Eve. This week, I’ll be positing my favorite YA books of 2020 on Wednesday, and I have another blog post coming on Saturday instead of Friday. Next week, I’ll be posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Today, I’ll be giving some love to adult fiction and non-fiction by sharing my favorite reads of the year within those genres! I didn’t create an anticipated releases post for 2021 adult fiction, but I will be sharing some titles in my January and February anticipated releases post early next month. I usually reach for a few adult fiction titles in between YA and contemporary romance, but I definitely reached more for the genre in the latter half of the year. It was a mix of some of my favorite adult authors coming out with new books, recommendations from other bloggers and podcasts, and wanting to take on some less fluffy reads. While I wouldn’t call it a staggering amount, I also read more nonfiction in 2020 than ever before.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is truly one of the most beautifully written booksI’ve ever read. I just think this book is so timeless and original. Following a woman who made a deal with the devil 300 years ago, it was the perfect blend of fantasy meets contemporary world.
The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I remember blowing through The Heir Affair on my Kindle this summer because I truly needed to just keep reading this sequel to Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan’s The Royal We. Following the fictional British royal family, The Royal We is more of a play on William and Kate, while The Heir Affair is more of a play on Meghan and Harry. Although I didn’t necessarily enjoy the book’s love triangle, everything else about it cemented it as one of my favorite 2020 reads.
House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas
We all know that ACOTAR isn’t really YA – and will officially be considered new adult/adult with A Court of Silver Flames – but I was truly obsessed this year with Sarah J. Maas’ official foray into adult fiction with House of Earth and Blood. I seriously think Crescent City has the potential to beat out Throne of Glass and become my all-time favorite SJM series. The world-building and cast were absolutely phenomenal, and most of all, I loved that even against the plot and romance (can you say, STEAM??), this book was truly about female friendship.Read More »
Contemporary romance took over my reading in 2020. I still have to analyze my 2020 reading stats and see if I did indeed read more romance than YA this year, but I feel like I was reaching for romance over other genres this year. This trend might stick around for me in 2021, given how many contemporary romances I’m anticipating in 2021! The main reason why I decided to split my anticipated releases into individuals posts for young adult and and romance this year because there are THAT many contemporary romances I’m waiting for in the new year.
I am considering making an anticipated releases post for adult fiction as well – I began drafting the post, but I only have two books on it so far while crossing my fingers we’ll get Leigh Bardugo’s second Alex Stern book and potentially Sarah J. Maas’ second Crescent City novel (or The World of Throne of Glass finally).
Most Anticipated Contemporary Romances
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon | Release Date: January 26
Rachel Lynn Solomon’s The Ex Talk is for sure among my MOST anticipated books on this list (if, not my #1 most anticipated read). I absolutely love her YA books and I’m so excited to read her take on my other favorite genre. The book follows two exes who start a new public radio show, where together they give relationship advice.Add it on Goodreads
Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon | RD: February 2
2021 is seriously the year for my YA favorite authors to enter the adult romance game, including Lily Menon (known in the YA world as, you know, SANDHYA MENON) with Make Up Break Up. The book follows rival app developers, Annika and Hudson, as the compete in a major investment pitch contest.Add it on Goodreads
Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | RD: April 6
Sarah Hogle’s debut, You Deserve Each Other, is one of my absolute favorite books of 2020 and made her one of my new auto-read authors. Twice Shy follows a woman who unexpectedly inherits a stately old manor from a great aunt, only to discover that the place needs some serious work and she has to share the place with the grumpy groundskeeper.Add it on Goodreads
The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan | RD: April 6
I finally read Rosie Danan’s The Roommate last week. Although it definitely met the hype for me and I loved it’s unique premise (adult entertainment), I wasn’t super in love. However, the hype once again sent me to check out Rosie Danan’s upcoming release, The Intimacy Experiment, and I’m super intrigued by the synopsis. The book follows one of the female main characters from The Roommate, Naomi, as she teams up with one of LA’s most eligible bachelors (who also happens to be a rabbi) on a sex education seminar.Add it on Goodreads Read More »
It goes without saying that not every single book we read is going to be our cup of tea, especially for a reader like me who has read 100+ books each year since 2018 – I’m currently on track to surpass my 2019 total of 127 books! Today I’ll be discussing my most disappointing reads and did-not-finish (DNF) books of 2020. I realize as I’m finishing a book that it didn’t exactly meet my expectations, or as I look back on my monthly or yearly reading, I realize that it wasn’t that great of a read for me. I want to include a disclaimer that my dislike for the following books has nothing to do with anything other than the fact I didn’t enjoy the book. Additionally, just because I may have not enjoyed a book, doesn’t mean that you won’t or doesn’t discredit your love for it.
Most Disappointing Reads
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen – Loveboat, Taipei was one of the first books I put on hold once my county library reopened this summer. I’ve really been enjoying YA books and adult contemporaries alike that take place in Asia, as Loveboat, Taipei takes place in Taiwan at a summer cultural program. I wonder if it’s because I’ve been reading YA books with older characters/teenagers, but the main protagonist in Loveboat, Taipei felt so immature to me. She makes some illogical decisions, which I know is typical in YA, but the setting in Loveboat, Taipei wasn’t necessarily young or low stakes (picture hook-ups and a leaked photoshoot). I ultimately finished it because I liked the setting and honestly had hopes for the plot to turn around.
Regretting You by Colleen Hoover – Colleen Hoover is truly a hit-or-miss author for me. I had taken a break from reading her books for a while after a few misses, but then read Verity this summer and LOVED it. I decided to then pick up Regretting You because so many of my blogging friends had enjoyed it, and I thought I’d love its blend of YA & women’s fiction, following a mother and daughter suffering from the loss of a loved one. While I think Regretting You does have a unique premise, I don’t think it brought anything necessarily new to what I’ve read in YA and women’s fiction.Read More »
Back in January, I went through my most anticipated 2020 releases and predicted which ones were the most likely to earn 5 stars in the Fangirl Fury star rating book. I’m actually surprised I only chose 6 books because I LOVED so many 2020 releases. In today’s post, I’ll be going back to those six books I predicted would be 5 star reads for me to see if I was correct about my predictions. I’m super content with my predictions, especially since the few books I weren’t so right about were SO close to being 5 star reads and still rank among my most enjoyed books of the year.
My Correct Predictions
We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian – We Are the Wildcats was one of my most anticipated YA releases of 2020, and I’m so glad it delivered. I know this one has mixed reviews, but as a former field hockey player, I loved that the sport was the backdrop and the setting held so many relatable moments for me. However, you definitely don’t need to be a field hockey player or even into sports to enjoy this one. I just loved how We Are the Wildcats was really about each of the six girls it followed (trust me, the multiple perspectives WORKED) and had so many messages about feminism and what it means to be part of a team.
Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett – As one of my all-time favorite authors, it’s really no surprise that Jenn Bennett’s Chasing Lucky was indeed a five star read for me. I loved, LOVED the summer coastal town meets bookstore setting. Lucky and Josie’s romance was so sweet and mature, two elements that I tend to find and love across all of Jenn Bennett’s books.
House of Earth & Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas – I read House of Earth & Blood between the last few days of my spring break and what we didn’t know at the time was the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. I really wish it didn’t turn out that way, but I was content staying home reading this 700+ page beast. I normally hate feeling that it’s taking me days on days to read one book, but I totally took my time reading House of Earth & Blood because there were so many details and I wanted to linger in Sarah J. Maas’ writing for as long as possible (which ultimately ended up being maybe a week total because I am the reader I am who needed to find out what happened next). As expected, House of Earth & Blood was definitely a 5 star read for me and I could so see myself giving every upcoming book in the Crescent City series 5 stars as well.
Undercover Bromance(The Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams – Undercover Bromance wasn’t the most perfect contemporary romance I’ve ever read, but I did end giving it 5 out of 5 stars because I enjoyed it so much. I loved the balance between contemporary romance fluffiness and steam and its deep dive into more serious topics. This book also solidified the Russian as my favorite character in the series.
My Not-So Correct Predictions
10 Things I Hate About Pinky (Dimple & Rishi #3) by Sandhya Menon – 10 Things I Hate About Pinky was such a fun way to get back into the Dimpleverse. I loved Sandhya Menon’s play on the frenemies-turned-loves trope. I wanted a few more cameos from the other members of the Dimpleverse, especially since this is the last book in the companion series (for now). I know I read a lot of books with the enemies-to-lovers trope, but some of the plot points and fall-out felt a little predictable to me. I gave 10 Things I Hate About Pinky 4.5/5 Stars.
Majesty (American Royals #2) by Katherine McGee – I realize there’s only two books in this category, but I’m the most disappointed that Majesty wasn’t a 5 star read because I loved American Royals so much upon my first read and reread. I still loved being back in the world of the American monarchy with Majesty and did like the plot direction, especially when it came to Beatrice. However, I really, really hope there will be a third book because Majestyfell into middle book syndrome for me (even as a the sole sequel!). Some of the bigger reveals and ending overall felt lackluster. I gave Majesty 4.5/5 stars.
What were some of your 5 star reads in 2020? Do you predict what will be your favorite reads of the year? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Share in the comments!
The time has finally come for my annual anticipated releases posts! As the year comes to a close, this is prime time for favorite lists and anticipated releases posts, but I ALWAYS end up forgetting a few books or find out some more upcoming releases right after my list goes live. Fortunately, I write seasonal anticipated releases, so if there’s a book you thought I’d include here, odds are it’s probably not on my radar just yet.
Today, I’ll be focusing on my most anticipated young-adult books slated to release in 2021. I’ve searched through round-ups, Goodreads, bookstgram, fellow bloggers’ lists, and bookish Twitter for this list. I’m so excited that some of my all-time YA favorite contemporary authors and some new-to-me favorites from 2020 are coming out with new books this year. However, as we all especially know after 2020 pushed so many release dates back, I do want to include a small disclaimer that some of these books’ release dates may change.
Most Anticipated YA Releases
You Have a Match by Emma Lord | Release Date: January 12
Honestly, I don’t know anyone who DIDN’T fall in love with Emma Lord’s debut, Tweet Cute, last year. You Have a Match just might top my love for Tweet Cute because it screams so many things that I love in my books & in life in general: sisterhood, romance, summer camp, and a slightly Parent Trap inspired synopsis?? Add it on Goodreads
The Project by Courtney Summers | RD: February 2
I said that I would read more of Courtney Summers’ books after really enjoying Sadie two years ago… which hasn’t happened just yet, but at least now I have The Project to look forward to! I love Courtney Summers’ writing style, and I think her writing will bring something super unique to this book about a girl whose determine to figure out the true intentions of a cult that her sister joined years ago. Add it on Goodreads
Anna K: Away (Anna K #2) by Jenny Lee | Release Date: April 27
Anna K: A Love Story swept me away this summer for its modern-day Anna Karenina re-telling. It was all just so glamorous and mature, not to mention that it’s ending left me craving MORE. I might just have to reread book #1 before picking up Anna K: Away, which takes place during the summer after book #1’s ending. Add it on GoodreadsRead More »
I realized in 2020 that I am way more of a TV person than a movie person. Some of you might know from reading my TV posts or monthly wrap up posts that TV tends to be go-to way to relax during busy points in the school year, since I’m sometimes too tired to focus on reading, but don’t feel like going to bed just yet. I think nearly all of us leaned into television more than usual in 2020 for stay-at-home reasons. Since I do watch so much TV, I really tried to limit my absolute FAVORITES…which means that there is quite a lengthy honorable mentions list included in this post.
Cheer (Netflix) – I’ve really come to love Netflix’s docuseries, including Cheer, which follows a competitive junior college cheerleading team. I’m a huge fan of this production’s team other Netflix docuseries, Last Chance U. They do such an incredible job of capturing these sports realities that aren’t generally understood by the everyday person. Both Cheer and Last Chance U follow junior college sports, cheerleading and football respectively, and the incredibly competitive atmosphere and setbacks experienced by those athletes.
Never Have I Ever (Netflix) – I love, love TV shows that manage to make me laugh and cry, and Never Have I Ever was the perfect culmination of those feels. The show follows Indian American high schooler Devi, who’s dealing with the unexpected loss of her father while navigating high school dating and social life. Definitely stick out the beginning of the first episode – it takes a bit to get used to the narrating style, but this show is SO worth it. If you love YA books, you’ll LOVE this show.
Sex Education S2 (Netflix) – One of my best friends & I managed to binge-watch the second season of Sex Education in a matter of days in the beginning of the spring semester. I didn’t think this show could get better, but season 2 had such great character development, plot, and so many surprises.
Beauty and the Baker (Amazon Prime) – All the hype surrounding ABC’s rom-com series, The Baker and the Beauty, did not lead me to watching the show (I did watch the first 2 episodes and just couldn’t get into it), but instead led me to watch the original Israeli romantic comdey show it was inspired by, Beauty and the Baker. Beauty and the Baker was one of my favorite quarantine binge-watches, and was genuinely so funny. I watched the English subtitled version on Amazon Prime. I’m holding out hope that they’ll include the show’s third season on there as soon as it premieres in Israel. Read More »
Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.
Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.
Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
You might know that I read The Wedding Date companion series way out of order. I started with the latest release & book #5, Party of Two, then went back to beginning and read book #1, The Wedding Date. Then, I skipped book #2, The Proposal (for now), and then jumped to book #3 and #4, The Wedding Party and Royal Holiday. I can say that Jasmine Guillory’s storytelling gets stronger with each installment. I enjoyed The Wedding Date and The Wedding Party, but they just felt like they were missing something. I absolutely loved Party of Two and consider that to be my favorite in the series, but Royal Holiday was such a strong installment and is now a go-to holiday romance recommendation!
Royal Holiday follows Maddie’s mom, Vivian, who joins her daughter on a Christmas work trip to England. Maddie, who appears in The Wedding Date and is the female lead in The Wedding Party, is styling the Duchess of England – you better believe I had the IRL royals pictured in my head- for the holiday and has her mom accompany her on the trip. Vivian instantly has chemistry with Malcom, the private secretary of the Queen, and the two spend the holiday getting to know one another. With a new job on the line at home in California for Vivian and Malcom busy working for the royals, the two know this relationship can’t possibly work out, but dread the end of the time together.
Based on friends’ reviews on Goodreads, I actually think I’m in the unpopular opinion category based on how much I enjoyed Royal Holiday! Royal Holiday is definitely a quiet read and doesn’t have a ton of action, but to me, it’s such a quintessential, cozy holiday read. I loved the England and royal setting, as Maddie and Vivian stay at one of the royals’ country estates. There’s scones, tea, horse-back riding, nights sitting by the fireplace, aka everything you could possibly want in a Christmas -themed read. Blame it on my current extreme wanderlust, but I also loved when the book transitioned to London. I loved escaping into holiday London and watching fireworks over the Thames. I’m someone who tends to like quiet and more character-driven reads, as long as I connect to the writing style, and I thought Royal Holiday was well-written. I loved Vivian’s charm, and her and Malcom’s flirting was so fun to read. Read More »