Favorite Reads of 2020

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write a blog post and I’ve missed it so much. Instead of coming back with a review, I wanted to share my favorites of 2020 so far! There have been some incredible releases and backlist reads I’ve been lucky to get my hands on.

This isn’t in any particular order and by no means are these my only favorites of the year. These are just the ones that stood out the most to me. I’ve loved all of these for different reasons and will link a review from my Instagram page to each post. I highly recommend picking up a copy of any one of these incredible reads!

Darling Rose Gold

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Darling Rose Gold is going to by my favorite book of the year 🙌🏻⁣ ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ This book was *dark* and I loved every second of it. Wrobel took us into the dark depths of Patty Watts’ mind to try and figure out how someone could harm their relative for attention. It’s truly unsettling to see these ideas pop up in her head. She walks the line of seeming like a concerned caregiver to figuring out how she can prolong an illness to get the rush she wants. She’s entitled and incredibly narcissistic, refusing to take responsibility for her actions. There’s also a back and forth between wondering did Patty do it and how much did Rose Gold know during the abuse that persisted through the story. It was handled in a sensitive way but still left you wondering where this all would lead to. ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ What really took the cake for me was Rose Gold’s character development. We meet her after Patty has been sent to prison as she tries to support herself for the first time. She was incredibly sheltered and primarily learns her the ways of the world from her mother and Disney movies. No matter how hard she tries, she keeps being wronged by those who should love her unconditionally. She finds herself with nothing to lose and begins doing some pretty reprehensible things. Rose Gold was done being a victim. It all came full-circle at the end and I found myself rooting for Rose Gold because of what she decided to do 😈.⁣ ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ If you’re looking for a dark, twisted book, Darling Rose Gold is for you. I can not recommend it enough. Wrobel is officially one of my auto-buy authors 🙌🏻

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This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and it did not disappoint.  I read this back around April and said then that this was my favorite book of the year. I still stand by that claim.

The Return 

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Everyone needs to flock to their local indie bookstore’s website and order The Return. This is going to be one of my favorite novels of 2020 🙌🏻⁣ ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ Rachel Harrison knows how to craft a horror story. Every page was filled with some sort of otherworldly or everyday horror. The magic was how the two were blended ✨The Return deals a lot with friendship and the many forms it takes. I felt myself relating to Elise the entire time. Her feelings of insecurity around her group of friends. Feeling as if they only tolerate her. To then, at the same time, feeling this fierce sense of loyalty to them. That love that bonds you to these people also blinds you to certain behaviors. It may also be your greatest weakness. ⁣ ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ ⁣ The Red Homey Inn provides a lot of eeriness to the novel, reminding me why I always feel creeped out in hotel rooms 😂. Despite this, I would kill to stay at this hotel in real life. It amped up the horror to a new level. Getting lost in a massive hotel, feeling as if the halls are longer or shorter than you remember all added to the sense of uneasiness I experienced as a reader. It was the perfect setting for a weird showdown with a body snatcher to go down. And I promise that’s not a spoiler 😂 Harrison’s writing was cinematic and I can only hope to see this as a movie one day. I don’t think there would be anything more horrific than watching Julie eat a steak on the big screen 👀. ⁣ ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ If your a long-time fan of horror and are a sucker for rich characters, this is the novel for you 🖤 I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

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The moment I saw Crime by the Book’s review of this novel, it was immediately added  to my tbr. The Return was atmospheric and instantly relatable in terms of it’s commentary on female friendship. Throw in a little, or a lot, of body horror elements and a Hotel that is a character in its own right, you have one hell of a novel. The only thing that made this better was chatting with Rachel herself. She’s just as cool as you’d expect!

The Shadows

I was incredibly lucky to receive an advanced copy of this one from Celadon books. I can’t tell you how long I was on cloud 9 after receiving it. So while it was a gifted copy my review of this was still honest. I loved it more than The Whisper Man. Not much creeps me out but this novel really got under my skin. Lucid dreaming is fascinating but couple that with Charlie, a creepy kid who is definitely up to no good, and a horrific murder, it’s an incredibly sinister combination.

Night Swim

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The Night Swim is a book that will stay with me for a long time. Megan Goldin expertly tackled the incredibly delicate topic of rape, showing the hardships victims face and the issues in our legal system as it pertains to rape cases. ⁣ ⁣ During my entire time reading The Night Swim, I was reminded of what Chanel Miller wrote in her memoir, Know My Name. We, as a society, are so worried about the ruined future of a rapist to the point we give no concern to the ruined life of a victim due to actions that were not their fault. They’re blamed for that night and are a footnote in their own story. This was a recurring theme in Night Swim as podcaster Rachel Krall tries to objectively cover Scott Blair’s trial. She encounters people on both sides- those who believe he is guilty and those who believe his swimming career (sound familiar 🙄) shouldn’t be ruined by the accusations made by a teenage girl. ⁣ ⁣ It’s an incredibly emotional read that did boil my blood a lot of the time. I wouldn’t consider this a traditional thriller but more literary suspense. I was anxious to see the result of the trial and how this would all tie in with the drowning of Jenny Stills. As Rachel investigates these two seemingly separate cases, it’s uncomfortably apparent how little has changed in the perception of rape, sexuality, and a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. It’s a poignant read that everyone needs to pick up with caution. While the novel is sensitive it also doesn’t hold back. I’m incredibly grateful that this book featured strong women at its core. This book, yet again, has me in awe of survivors and their strength. ⁣ ⁣ The Night Swim is out 8/4/2020. Go pre-order this now. Thank you to @netgalley and @stmartinspress for this e-arc.

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This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s important to go into it understanding it’s not a thriller. It’s more literary suspense with poignant commentary on our current justice system, social constructs, and how we treat survivors of sexual assault. This will not be a book I ever forget. This is out August 4th! Consider pre-ordering it.

A Good Girls Guide to Murder

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I have a new idol and her name is Pip Fitz-Amobi 🙌🏻⁣ ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ You guys the hype around this book is real. By page one I was hooked 👀. Holly Jackson dumps you right in the middle of the action as Pip tries to find out who really killed Andie Bell. Readers quickly join Pip down the rabbit hole as she uncovers the dark secrets lurking underneath the seemingly normal façade the residents of Fairview adopt. This is one of those books where you truly cannot see what’s coming. The moment you think you do, Holly Jackson throws you a curve ball, sending you back to square one. It’s perfect for thriller lovers 🙌🏻⁣ ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ A lot of the plot was very reminiscent of the podcast Serial. Just like the podcast, Holly touches on how race intersects with not only daily life but perception when it comes to the media and crime. It was all done in a delicate way that added to the layers that made this story even more tragic and real. ⁣ ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ ⁣ While this is a YA book, it didn’t feel like one at all. This book was complex with incredibly likable and despicable characters that balanced each other out. Pip was relentless in her search for the truth and with Ravi Singh by her side, the two left no stone unturned. The ending to this novel is a two gut punch that had me flying through the last half of the book to find out what was really going on. ⁣By the end my jaw was on the floor. ⁣ •⁣ ⁣ Long story short – buy this book. Right now there is no US release date but it is available in the UK 4/30.

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Do I need to say more?

Death In The Family

Calling all locked-room mystery lovers! This book is for you. I fell in love with Shana Merchant and her troubled background. The second installment will be released at the end of this year and I couldn’t be more excited! Tessa Wegert is such a delight to talk to. Her writing methods and generosity gave me a whole new appreciation for this novel.

The Other People

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What a book 💙 The Other People is an engrossing tale that proves, once again, just why C.J. Tudor is taking over the book world. • If you’re going into this expecting a twisty, explosive thriller, you will be disappointed. That’s not what this is. The Other People is an atmospheric, eerie tale of how real people deal with grief. What we would do to right a wrong. How, if possible, we would take matters into our own hands to exact justice. It’s a slower paced story that really immerses you into the lives of the characters you’ll be introduced to. • What I love about C.J. Tudor is how she takes three storylines that seem completely unrelated and intertwines them in such an amazing, believable way. Her characters in every book feel real. They’re flawed, down on their luck, barely living. It reminds me a lot of Gillian Flynn’s characters. It’s this flawed nature that made me connect with the characters even more. Traditionally In thrillers we have characters that seem perfect on the outside but inside, something’s not right. While those characters are fun to read about, I don’t connect with them the same way I do with C.J. Tudor’s characters. • What I found really interesting about this book was the idea of The Other People. It’s a scary thought that a shadow organization like this could exist in real life. You don’t have to suspend your belief while you’re reading. Besides the minor, paranormal aspect, this entire plot could very easily happen in real life. Real life isn’t always explosive, with mysteries lurking in every corner. Sometimes it’s just getting through the day. Trying to find how you can get through your grief. It makes you wonder what we’re all capable of when tragedy strikes close to home. • If you like stories that are character driven, ooze subtle creepiness, and will leave you thinking for hours after you finished that last line, you’ll love The Other People.

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I’m a huge CJ Tudor fan. When I found out this was being released earlier this year, I couldn’t have been happier. If you’ve read her first two novels, you can see how this one is a combination of both; blending crime with a bit of a supernatural force.

Eight Perfect Murders

It wasn’t until joining bookstagram that I finally read a Swanson novel. Even before reading Her Every Fear, I was stoked for this novel. It was the perfect cozy mystery that will take you for one hell of a ride.

I hope you can find a new favorite from this list! If you’ve read any here, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment below or reach out on Instagram, @davynsden

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