Thursday, January 21, 2021

Review of My 2020 Reading Year: The Stats, The Surprises, The Disappointments and the Best of the Best

 I am finally getting around to wrapping up my 2020 reading year.  The start of the new year really snuck up on me this year and I was unprepared for both new reading goals and wrapping up the year's reading.  I did a horrible job of tracking the stats for this year but I did a quick look back and came to these stats. 

2020 Reading Stats:

In 2020 I read a total of 265 books (give or take a couple that aren't on Goodreads)
broken down that is 30,955 pages and
944:26 hours (39 days, 8 hours and 26 minutes) of audio book time

of those books:
19 earned 5 star ratings
137 earned 4 star ratings
75 earned 3 star ratings
26 earned 2 star ratings
0 earned 1 star rating
8 were DNFed

49 were Children's Books/Early Reader/First Chapter Books
27 were Middle Grade Books
45 were Young Adult Books
144 were Adult Books

19 were Graphic Novels
95 were Audio Books
60 were Print Books
91 were Ebooks

74 were Romance
55 were Fantasy
17 were Sci-Fi
11 were Mystery

Things I have discovered in 2020:

~ I took a clear turn in the favor of Adult books over Young Adult and Middle Grade compared to years passed. 
~ I read a lot more in Audio Book format from compared to previous years but not as heavily as I had expected.  I do see this trend continuing based on how busy life is for me, if I am not listening while doing tasks then I wouldn't get as much reading done.
~ I tried a new genre this year, Cozy Mystery, and was completely blown away and dove in head first. Granted I read mostly the same author so I am looking forward to seeing if I enjoy the genre even with different series and authors. 
~ My reading tastes are shifting yet again, I am making a swing back into Romance after several years spent focusing on Fantasy.  I still read the exact same amount of fantasy just added more romance.
~ With Munchkin now reading on his own, I am finding that I am reading less and less Children's books. I still plan to pick some up from the library from time to time but see those numbers continuing to dwindle. 

Biggest Disappointments:
So besides the 8 books I DNFed this last year, there were a few disappointments. It doesn't mean that these were bad books, or even that I hated them, just simply books I felt were going to be fantastic but just didn't live up to my expectations.

I don't think I am alone in my feelings with this one. The Selection is my favorite guilty read and I was so excited for something new but still somewhat similar from Cass.  I didn't connect with the characters at all, nor did the characters have any kind of chemistry between them to pull the story along.

This book sounded so magical and mystical with a bit of romance and a lot of intrigue. I was so excited to receive and ARC but I really struggled with it.  I was confused most of the time both about the characters and the world. 

Biggest Surprises:
I read some books this year that I wasn't sure about or that sucked me in far more than I ever expected. Some pulled me into new genres and others introduced me to new authors and worlds.

While I have been reading more Science Fiction in recent years, it is still a genre I am hesitant about.  This was a short novella so I thought I would give it a shot and I absolutely loved it! The isolation of a research vessel, the new and unusual worlds they travel to and the unknown being lifetimes away from the family and friends they knew. I am definitely going to make it a point to go back and read Becky Chambers series.

This was an interesting year, I never before thought I would find a Mystery I enjoy until discovering the world of Cozy Mysteries, they are a little more light hearted, a little more character focus as opposed to plot focus and oh so bingeable! I discovered Jenn McKinlay through her romance books and then found the Library Lover's Mystery series and quickly either purchased or borrowed every book in the series!

So you never really know what you are going to get with self published books, so while this one ticked all the boxes for me, I was still a bit hesitant. This book made me laugh so hard! It was quirk and funny and filled with crude language, which for some reason (maybe because I read it after being cooped up in the house, working full time and homeschooling full time for 3 months) found to be extremely relatable and comical. I can't wait for more in this series!

This book very nearly made it to my favorites of the year. I loved Neuvel's Themis Files series so was excited to try a novella. I listened to the audio book, it was very quick but so impactful that I actually had to stop what I was doing and just listen. It was terrifying and horrible but so engrossing and unique. I do understand that it has some issues that many readers found to be disrespectful and very off-putting but just based on the story itself and how much it captured my attention it was fantastic.

2020 Honorable Mentions
I don't normally do this but I read so many fantastic books this year that I just had to mention some that just barely missed out on my top books of the year.

I had to add the New Murderbot Novel to this list! After a series of Novellas, I wasn't sure how a full length book would go. I ended up really loving this book, with the addition of ART and some of the human characters from the previous book, it was such a great addition to the series! And even more exciting, there is more to come!

I feel like I waited so long for this book and it was definitely worth the wait! I loved getting back into this book and characters. It didn't capture me quite the same way as A Plague of Giants which is why it didn't end up on my favorites list but it is still so so good with some great plot development and character growth and even growth in the world as it expands even more! I am once again dying for the next book in this series!

I have heard so many other readers talking about this book but it kind of gave me YA vibes, which I am not a fan of YA Contemporary Romance, but this ended up being more of a New Adult Romance. This is a book that started off a bit rocky but you were quickly drawn into the story. You can't help but fall in love with characters and really pull for them as the story continues. This is definitely a book that stands out this year as something I keep thinking about, now I get all the hype.

and finally

The Best of the Best Books in 2020:

So here we go with my top books of 2020! I don't think a single one of these books were on my Anticipated Release List or TBR for the year, so they really came out of the woodwork and blew me away. Again, I have such a variety with my favorite picks, on which is from a genre I don't even read! 

So this was a book that was at least on my radar and I was lucky enough to win a Goodreads Giveaway for an ARC. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, not only was the character unique in the fact that she was transgender but it is also a debut book. But OMG I fell in love with Razia! She is so confident and proud of who she is, she doesn't let anyone take that away from her. The way she grows and proves herself again and again is so inspiring. Then you throw in Arjun and then the amazing setting and the zahhaks and I just loved every minute of it! I am so excited to see another book coming out this year!

This is a backlist book of Jenn McKinlay's that I picked up, it was the second book in a romance series (see above where I gush about one of her mystery series). While I enjoyed the first book I wasn't sure if it was a series I really was going to follow but picked this one up anyway.  I am so glad I did because I think I met my all time favorite book animal! I can't tell you much about the romance or the characters but I can tell you all about Ike the parrot because he totally made this book for me.  He was a bit of an unexpected inheritance, and he has a bit of a foul mouth and tends to spout off at the worst possible times. He added such a light and fun element to the story.  (on a side note: what does it say about me that 2 books on this list are here due to foul language?! LOL)

Finally a book I never expected to end up on this list, or even be read by me for that matter, due to it being a horror book, something I NEVER pick up. There was so much hype around this book and it ended up being a Book of the Month pick so I thought I would give it a try because I do love classic gothic novels.  That is one thing this book got so right, it gave me all the gothic vibes, it was dark, it was twisty and atmospheric in all the best ways. It gave great spooky vibes without absolutely terrifying me. Definitely in a way of screaming at the character 'no, don't go in there. Just leave, something bad is going to happen if you don't leave.'  It was so good and it left you thinking about all the twists and puzzling about it long after you were finished with the story. 

So what were some of your favorite books of 2020? Have you read any of mine? Will you be picking any of these up this year?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Review of Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown


Read for: Borrowed Books/ Medievalathon Challenge

Synopsis: "In this captivating dual narrative novel, a modern-day woman finds inspiration in hidden notes left by her home’s previous owner, a quintessential 1950s housewife. As she discovers remarkable parallels between this woman’s life and her own, it causes her to question the foundation of her own relationship with her husband–and what it means to be a wife fighting for her place in a patriarchal society.

When Alice Hale leaves a career in publicity to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in a box in the old home’s basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner–1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the cookbook’s pages Nellie left clues about her life–including a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to her mother.

Soon Alice learns that while baked Alaska and meatloaf five ways may seem harmless, Nellie’s secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister–even dangerous–side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with the mounting pressures in her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own."

My Review: This book kept catching my eye for some reason, even though it is so outside my normal reading genres, luckily the library had a copy for me to try. This was a interesting read, following women in two very different time periods but finding themselves in some similar situations. I enjoyed both perspectives, but really liked Nellie as a character. I kind of figured out where her story arc was leading but it was still quite a dark and twisty path to get there. Alice also has quite a character arc with a lot of changes and growth as she finds her way in an old suburban home and getting to know Nellie through her letters and history. It was a much darker story than I was expecting but still a really interesting read. I do like to point out that though most of the book makes men out to be horrible and abusive both now and the 50s, there are still many, many good, kind, respectful and supportive men out there who aren't only looking for babies to carry on their lines or pass down successes.

My Rating: I found this to be a pretty dark story but very much so a 'girl power'/ woman's rights type of book. I just wish that we could have a book with strong women taking control of there own lives without making men into such villains.  It was still a very good book and I give it a rating of Three Paws.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Didn't Get to in 2020



Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.  It is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and you can find the list of topics on her page HERE.

So this week's topic is about the books we didn't get to in 2020 and boy are there a lot!  I will limit it down to the 10 I am definitely going to read this year!


So there are a lot of wintery books on this list and a lot of really chunky books too. I may not get to all of them right away but I am definitely going to read them all in 2021!  Is there any one I should really make sure to pick up first?

What are some of the books you didn't get to in 2020 that you want to make sure you read this year?

Not Monday Reading List

      It is not Monday but it is time to update with what I read last week, what I am currently reading and what to look forward to next week.

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Cleo Can Tie a Bow by Sybrina Durant (Bedtime Story)
Ever After Always by Chloe Liese (Date Night)

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

One for the Books
Ever After Always
Cleo Can Tie a Bow
A Wealth of Pigeons
Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Currently Reading:
Fire by Kristin Cashore - Print - on page 51 of 480
The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan - Audio - 23%

Pages Read/ Time Listened
49:24 Hours Listened This Year(17:28 listened this week)
1,753 Pages Read This Year (1,033 Read this week)

Books Added to Shelves Recently: TBR
Lives of Saints (Good Choice Reading - 2020 Purchase)


Another great reading week, even though it didn't feel like a great one since I struggled with most of the books I read. I am happy with the reading I am doing, a mix of requested reviews, borrowed books, a re-read and a new book recently added to my shelves. I have been working hard over the past week to finish updating my shelves and I will have a shelf tour coming up on my Instagram stories later this week (@EasternSunset9) if you want to check that out.  I am also updating my Medieval-a-thon reading on Instagram stories as well. I am super happy with my progress so far on that as well. 

It is a short week for me this week so I expect the office to be super busy but I am hoping to get a lot more reading done this week. Once I get through a few more of my Medieval-a-thon TBR books, I need to get going on these newly added books, the leftovers from last year (that got stranded in the mail system) have started rolling in and throwing off my goals for the year already!

Anyway, what new books have you added to your shelves already this year?