101 Books I Read in 2020

Heya, 

Last year was hard for everyone. One of the things I struggled with was making “reading” a priority. I want to do the things that I love and oftentimes, it’s difficult to do so when the world is in such disarray. I attempted to post the books I read every month so that some of you could join me in reading them. Due to Covid 19, and the total mind melt that was 2020, that did not happen. 

So, here are the books that I read in 2020 – in the order I read them!

I hope you enjoy this list. If you see any books that you read, loved, disliked, or want to read, let me know! If you see any books on the list you’d like to know more about – that doesn’t already have a book review – comment and I will make a separate book review just for you!  

Find this list with covers and links on my Goodreads page: My Reading Challenge 2020.

Needful Things by Stephen King

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Immortal Angel by Lynsay Sands

Black Widow by Lesley Grey Streeter

More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz

Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Immortal Born by Lynsay Sands

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

Real Murders by Charlene Harris

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfled

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

The Carrying by Ada Limon

The Vacation by T.M. Logan

Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

29 seconds by T M Logan

My life in Plants by Katie Vaz

When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

The Scoundrel in her Bed by Lorraine Heath

Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Some kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Shadows by Alex North 

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Bullseye by David Baldacci

The Secret His Mistress Carried by Lynne Graham

Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison 

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison 

Walk The Wire by David Baldacci 

Love and Other Wild Things by Molly Harper

Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues by Molly Harper

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper

A Werewolf in Manhattan by Vicki Lewis Thompson

8 Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Margolin 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

The Third Victim by Phillip Margolin

The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner

The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner

Down Range by Lindsay McKenna

The Weight of Silence by Greg Olsen

Danger Close by Lindsay McKenna

Falling for the Highlander by Lynsay Sands

The Sound of Rain by Greg Olsen

Final Girls by Riley Sagar

The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood

Dark Tides by Chris 

The Hiding Place by CJ Tudor

Educated by Tara Westover

The Killing lessons by Saul black

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Stud by Cheryl Brooks

Virgin by Cheryl Brooks

Origin by Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

The Oxford Inheritance by A.A. McDonald

Blankets by Craig Thompson

10% happier by Dan Harris

Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts

A Hunger So Wild by Sylvia Day

The Touch of Crimson by Sylvia Day

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

The War of the Worlds by HG Wells

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker

Year One by Nora Roberts

The Innocent by David Baldacci

The Hit by David Baldacci

Good Readdance,

Jade

Discover Black Literature

A Discovery of Black Literature

Growing up, the only people who encouraged my love for books taught in my classrooms. Teachers who went above and beyond for the young foster girl who’d rather read fiction than her textbooks (and often got in trouble for sneaking a novel beneath her desk where she thought no one could see her).

My adoptive parents weren’t champions of my reading. If anything, my adoptive mother tried everything she could to stop me from reading. Especially if it wasn’t about religion – Christianity. Once, she went through all my shelves searching, just searching for something to tear to shreds. Books by black authors often fell under the category of “too mature” for me – obviously, my parents had no idea what reading level I was on. So, any attempt to branch out was quickly extinguished.

This had the reverse effect on me.

I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Anything that I could pull off the front of the shelves, check out with my secret library card, and shove in the bottom of my backpack. However, this fingertip-convenience meant more books by white authors than black authors. This meant more stories by people whose books never represented me or my culture. Whatever that culture was. 

As a foster kid, I grew up daydreaming about who I was, who my ancestors were, and what kind of magic might flow through my bones. I knew my biological mother and a handful of siblings I’d been split from. However, I didn’t know where my people were from. I’d been given so many answers, African (of course), a blend of Asian in there somewhere, something else with light skin, and something loosely coiled hair (evidenced by my own head than anything). Something with thin hips and rhythm and short stocky women. 

What I really wanted to know about was Literature. Who were my people? What did they write? What did they read? Were they all slaves? Did anyone create a new language, or code, or shorthand? Were they intelligent? If they were, does that mean I’m intelligent?

These questions weren’t answered.

So, I searched for them in books. I didn’t realize, until I was much older, there was an oppressive reason behind the lack of representation in the books I loved. I just read. Absorbing each page and regurgitating them to my teachers with a childish enthusiasm that shocked them. 

I remember one teacher (Mr. Vincent Potts, a handsome man who listened to me drone on about fictional characters and how “1984” changed my views on…everything) sending me home with a letter saying that a recent essay was absolutely phenomenal and that “if her love for literature is fostered, she could be writing essays at a college-level very soon”. As you can tell, my love for literature and writing wasn’t fostered. No one seemed to care. 

There I was, a love for books unchecked, far away from the black women writers I wanted to discover. 

At some point, our lack of knowledge is our responsibility. Especially when recognized. Once I became an adult, I spent years reading anything that interested me because I didn’t want to close myself into a box. I didn’t want to be like those readers who said “I only read books by black writers because what can white people teach me?” I was astounded by this and I clutched my bookish pearls. I’d read so many books by so many authors of other cultures that truly blew me away. I couldn’t imagine never discovering them.

So, why would I assume I had put enough focus on my own culture?

Over the years, I read many books (articles, interviews, essays, and short stories) by black writers but I didn’t put any more focus or light on them than the white writers. I never cared what race they were. If the synopsis sounded good, I read it. Most of the time, I didn’t even look at the author’s name or picture on the flap. Stories can come from everywhere. 

If I loved it, I told everyone about it. If I hated it, I told everyone about it. 

I still read books by all sorts of writers, but the importance of intention can’t be overlooked. A few years ago, I recognized that my connection with the black community had begun to slip due to my cross country move and my extreme introversion (which kept me from making new friends and frankly, leaving my house).  I realized I wanted to focus more on literature written by African Americans. More specifically, Black Women like me.

Yes, I’ll eventually sign up for Ancestry.com and discover what’s in my blood but first I need to discover what is in my heart. 

I intentionally read books by black writers and appreciated them for the masterpieces they were. I shared them on my book groups and talked about them with my online writing friends. I spread the word about them with renewed excitement in “my” history. They also worked as a creative catalyst to opening up my writing “eye”. I discovered my Voice and didn’t feel like my blackness was diminished because I could see myself in the work I was reading.

It still isn’t enough. 

This year, I want to put a spotlight on black women writers like I never have before. It’ll be a “Study Black Lit” intensive. I’m on the search to find an author that will spark an academic flame in me. Someone who will inspire hours of scholarship, collections of essays, and true passion. To do this, I plan to read works by a different black woman at a time and deeply study them. Taking notes. Deciphering clues, metaphors and intentions. Recognizing frustrations. I want to get to know the writers through their words. Align my experiences with theirs and see that we are the same and yet oh, so different.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with all of this studying or if it’s just for me but…I’m going to enjoy the journey of rediscovering Black Literature. And I’ll take you along.

Good Readdance,

Jade

P.S. I will say, I always wondered why black women writers are always relegated to that one very tiny university course titled “African American literature” or posted under a very long list of “optional diversity courses”. They’re so jam-packed into these courses that there’s only space for one. How does this do them justice? Us justice? How amazing would it be to see these works by black women highlighted instead of boxed away? How great to have a range of black women writers join the ranks of “classics” literature and be taught as a major focus and not a supplemental one? How inspiring would this be for young black girls as interested in books as I’d been?

I’m getting ahead of myself but…you see the love, here. 

Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

One of the things that I’m discovering about Lucy Foley is that she is fantastic when it comes to character development. I’ve read two books by her so far and in each, the voices are varied and pointed. I also must say that I listened to both as audiobooks. It’s easy to get swept away by all of the accents, the acting from the voice actors, the emotion behind the words. 

I honestly think I like this book better than The Hunting Party (read my book review for it here). Usually, there is a bit of confusion where there are so many characters. So many points of view. A blending of time. Crossing plot directions. Not for Lucy Foley.

As a fellow writer, I want to see her story grids. I’d like to crawl in her head and see how she comes up with all the characters and make them all have depth and purpose. In the story’s plot, there’s an ebb and flow of small twists and big surprises and I love it. No small feat to keep the reader, reading.

I actually listened while cooking dinner and planned to stop when it was time to eat but every time I felt like I was at a good stopping point I just….kept going. In the book, you really dig into the many layers of a wedding party, and the event’s guests, and see all the horrors of what is supposed to be a beautiful day.

The setting is just as lovely as it was in The Hunting Party. In The Guest List, the setting is strong and idyllic: a secluded place, torturous waters, a nervous host, and no way to escape. At the end of this book I found myself wanting more! I enjoyed the distraction.

So, I would definitely recommend The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

Link to Book

CNF: Blanket

*optional content warning at bottom of page*

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When everyone was running about the house to get ready for the movie, we lay on the couch under the thickest blanket in the house. It spanned from end to end and could curl up and over the back of the couch. Behind me, my adoptive sister lay on her side with one arm tucked under her, invisible to the world. 

The other lay along her side, the hand resting lightly on my hip. She was nearly skin and bones, despite her age and the amount she ate. I was too, but at only nine or ten my chest had just started to bud and I hadn’t any curves yet. We fit there, sinking into the cushions with just our heads above the water. 

Lying on my right side, I squeezed my eyes closed and my mouth, too. She curled against me, her legs touching the back of my legs, her long skeletal hands pushing at the soft band of my pajama pants. She went down, further into those places, and parted my vulva with uninvited fingers. I wanted to speak but there it was. The hairless skin was dry and when she found the spot she wanted, she pushed against it with the edge of a pen. Capped, with a small spongy bulge for a finger grip, it scrapped against one side then the other.

I whimpered, it hurt worse than the last time. She seemed to be in a rush. 

I had known what she wanted, as soon as she crooked her finger at me in the hall. When I followed with slow long steps, she had pulled me beneath the covers. She had already covered herself but I drug on, my eyes down to the floor. I knew at any moment others would return. Can she get what she wants in this short a time? I opened my eyes, felt them water, and closed them again. She grunted, made one of those happy sounds mom says not to make when you’re at the dinner table.


***


I can hear them coming, feet booming against the stairs like thunder, ready to play the newest Blockbuster on VHS. Mom is yelling from the other room – I’m sure telling everyone to slow down. I see my brother come to the door of the family room, pausing on the lip before stepping down onto the carpet. He’s looking at me, I know he is, and I open my eyes to catch him. Our gazes meet and before he can speak she opens her mouth.

“When are we going to put the movie in?” she asks as she pushes the pen in and out. He sucks his teeth and rolls his eyes. That’s what he’s into now. Attitude.

I want to whip the covers back and show him where she’s putting her hands but I know he doesn’t like me. He hits me, putting his fists on my face, on my back, sometimes smacking on my thighs as I run up the stairs. It’s funny to him but I don’t like it. I don’t think brothers should hit their sisters. Boys shouldn’t hit girls, anyway.

“I’m the only one that can hit you. That can hurt you,” I remember him saying. It wasn’t true. They hurt me at the last place, she hurts me now, they’ll hurt me in the future and I know, I just know he won’t stop them. 

Another foster girl comes to the door, a bag of extra-buttered popcorn hanging from one hand. She has a gaggle of napkins clutched in her other and she glances at us quickly before popping into the room like a cheerleader. The pen goes in and out but slows a bit. Her other hand touches me at the top of my folds. I flinch as she pinches there.

“Are y’all ready to watch the movie?” I hear my adoptive mother ask. She’s yelling from the kitchen, as she always does, and everyone but me calls back.

She’s scrambling to remove the pen, using two fingers to pull, pull, pull, and it’s deeper than I thought. It comes out with a scrapping and my thighs tense in the effort to not cry out.

“Hey, get up off that couch! You’re taking up all the space,” mom says and I look up at her. I want to speak. Tell her. She says I can tell her anything but she lies. When I tell her she tells others. When she tells others they tell me. They sing it to me with laughter in their voice. I don’t much like to tell her things.

She’s fast enough to pull her hands out of my bottoms and slides up the back of the couch like a snake. Her arms release me and I float down to the floor. Everyone laughs as I take my tumble and I feel that tickling at the back of my eyes that you get when the tears come. I push up on my forearms and watch the other fosters come to settle in the room, taking up residence on the opposite couch, the chairs round the back, and the space before the small tv.

Mom stands just beside the doorway with this look on her face that tells me she knows something I don’t know. I avert my eyes and climb to my feet. I’m hurting, down there, and I have to keep my knees wide when I walk. When I pass her she puts a hand on my arm but says no words. I look up at her and first see the breasts against her chiffon shirt. Then the folds of her neck and the small curve of her chin. I don’t meet her eyes but I focus on the small uptilt of her nose.

She releases me and I turn toward the living room. It’s muscle memory, the walk to my bedroom. I’m tired. I want it to stop. I wince with each wooden step I take and once I’m safe in my room I go pee. I feel the muscles moving down there and I lean forward on the toilet. Something sharp stabs me and I whimper and lean further.

Reaching down with tentative hands, I touch, and feel, and move my fingers around, and there it is. Something sharp is lodged in there, it scrapes against the pad of my fingertip and I push another finger in to grab. And I’m grabbing and I’m crying. I can’t hold my breath and hold the tears at the same time. Finally, it’s there, between my fingers and I pull. It scrapes as it slides out and a small sound pushes between my teeth.

It’s the cap from the pen. She’d pushed in the wrong side. I clutch it between my slick fingers and stand, forgetting to wipe. I pull up the soft bottoms and the band snaps around my tiny waist. 


***

I’m running. I hit the stairs quickly and have to catch the railing to keep from tumbling down. I’m through the living room and the floor bows slightly beneath my feet. Expensive figurines clink in the small china cabinet – stereo duo. I know I shouldn’t run in there but my feet move anyway. When I’m at the family room door I can see it’s dark, aside from the glow of the TV. They’ve turned out the lights. They’ve moved along as if I didn’t matter. I’m standing on the edge of the step-down, my toes wavering in the air.

They can see me, I’m sure of it. 

The light from the kitchen just down the hall always illuminates this room when you’re on the other side, but no one looks in my direction. My mouth opens and I gap like a fish. I look at all their faces as they speak, getting their words out before two hours of silence begins. I can see her sitting there, her knees pulled up tight to her chest, like a child.

The cushions are depressed but empty next to her – where I’m supposed to be. The blanket is on the floor, discarded like forgotten trash and no one moves to pick it up. They just ignore it, chattering on about things more important.

I want to clear my throat and interrupt them. I need to, I feel it with every fiber of my being. I want to scream at them to shut up and let me speak. Then I stop. I take in a shaky breath and take a step back, out of the glow of the light. I could scream all I want, yell all I want. I could tell mom everything I want. But I know she’d never be willing to quiet. I know she will never truly listen.

*mentions child abuse – molestation*

5 Books NOT to Read During a Pandemic

5 Books NOT to Read During a Pandemic

Mid-June, I pulled myself out of the stupor I’d fallen into due to Covid and our cross country trip. I started going for daily walks, I reintroduced myself to my apartment away after 6 weeks away, I started reading again. Not that I hadn’t been reading before, but I started to truly enjoy it again. Not just listening to the words or flipping pages mindlessly.

One of the first things I did to take back control was find books about wide-spread diseases, pandemics, the removal of humans (mass exodus or disappearance), etc. It, of course, didn’t start that way. At first, I wanted to read The Stand by Stephen King. 

I had already borrowed it from the library several times before but the behemoth scared me. I had read large books before but I had just spent the last few months unable to turn a page without this underlying sense of fear and frustration. It seemed insurmountable.

So, I bought it.

I became addicted quite quickly, flipping through the pages until one night passed by at the speed of light and my eyes burned from staying open so long. From there it spawned and I began looking for other things with the same subject.

Among others, I found these 5 books. You might see reviews for these separately but it was important for me to put them on an awesome list. The title of this post is misleading, I want you to read these books. I want you to read them today!      

The Stand by Stephen King

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen.

In the first pages of this book, you see just how quickly the spread of a disease can happen. Heck, it might even frustrate you when you see the resemblance between the book and some goings-on at your local grocery store.

Link to Book

Pandemic Robin Cook

When an unidentified, seemingly healthy young woman collapses suddenly on the New York City subway and dies upon reaching the hospital, her case is an eerie reminder for veteran medical examiner Jack Stapleton of the 1918 flu pandemic. Fearful of a repeat on the one hundredth anniversary of the nightmarish contagion, Jack autopsies the woman within hours of her demise and discovers some striking anomalies: first, that she has had a heart transplant, and second, that, against all odds, her DNA matches that of the transplanted heart.

The crazy thing about this book is that I had no idea this book was a part of a series until I looked it up to write this. I randomly picked it up as a ‘related to’ book of The Stand. There’s a TV show coming out soon!

Link to Book

Phantoms by Dean Koontz

They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body, strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California.

At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease.

I had actually read part of this book before but I think I was distracted by another book. Either way, when I picked it up again I was reminded how much of a suspense GENIUS Dean Koontz is. This book has a movie adaption.

Link to Book

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city—a city that includes his wife and son—before it is too late.

An epic battle for survival begins between man and vampire in The Strain.

This was book was a different look at Vampires (or vampiric virus) than I’m used to dealing with. I’m used to romance, and heat, and vampires being good – or marginally so. This book is evil vampires, ancient vampires, and a weird inner alien-looking, sucking thing that flies out of the throat vampires. This one also has a tv show adaption. I began watching it and I really liked it, surprisingly.

Link to Book

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it.

This one was absolutely phenomenal! I read it in one sitting because it was that fantastic. It is also a behemoth but totally worth it. This book is also getting an adaption. Isn’t that crazy? All of these were fantastic in their own way and now we’ll get to see them on the screen. 

Link to Book

If you have any other pandemic, disease, or exodus novels that you really love and would like to suggest, please do so! If you are interested in another round of these, I’ll share other books like this that I’ve read in the last year.


Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Reviews: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

This book had an interesting cast of characters, an idyllic setting amongst woods and snow, and a slow pace. I appreciated the slow pace as it gave me a chance to get to know each character, and play whodunnit. I’ve always been a fan of Clue type books and movies, especially ones like The Hunting Party, that go back and forth in time.

There were a few twists in the novel that felt predictable if you paid attention, but it was still worth it. Seeing how it all turned out at the end definitely made this one a good Weekend Read. 

One thing that I disliked about the book was that it has this slow build and just when it starts to pick up it’s over. That may be my fault though. When you listen to an audiobook, your phone is most likely turned off.

You can’t see that you are nearing the end. You think it’s going to keep going and you’re invested and possibly on the edge of your seat and then you hear the words “Epilogue”. I even paused in the car just so I could listen because things were ramping up and then I was shocked to discover the end wasn’t as impactful as I expected.  

That being said, one of the great things about listening to audiobooks is that you can truly hear the difference between characters. Their mannerisms, the pauses between words, the terror in their voices. That’s why I love listening to books with a large cast. Being a writer myself, I know how important it is to make each voice stand out and give them depth. 

Lucy Foley paid careful attention to this in The Hunting Party and it translates well. It also doesn’t hurt that the accents were so cool. And you know how Americans love accents!

One of my favorite characters is Miranda. Her arc is amazing because she knows she’s terrible. She knows she’s a shitty friend. She even feels guilty about it sometimes. Rarely, but it’s there. Does this stop her or make her change her ways? No. We all know a person like Miranda. Maybe it’s a friend you love to hate. Maybe it’s a sibling you wish would be nicer. Heck, maybe it’s you. You might see some of yourself in Miranda, so watch out!

I also love the setting in this book. And the way characters said “loch”. This ‘snowed-in’ novel is perfect for this quarantine time. Being in isolation, not able to leave, not able to touch anyone, even being upset at an unexpected guest couple. It’s perfect for the winter weather as well.

Link to Book

If you have any suggestions, don’t forget to leave me a comment or send a message to me on social media.

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

Thea’s having a bad month. Not only has she been made redundant, she’s also discovered her husband of nearly twenty years is sleeping with one of her friends. And he’s not sorry – he’s leaving.
 
Bewildered and lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But, when she learns the great-uncle she barely knew has died and left her his huge collection of second-hand books and a house in the Scottish Lowlands, she seems to have been offered a second chance.
 
Running away to a little town where no one knows her seems like exactly what Thea needs. But when she meets the aristocratic Maltravers brothers – grumpy bookshop owner Edward and his estranged brother Charles, Lord Hollinshaw – her new life quickly becomes just as complicated as the life she was running from…

Heya, 

I stayed up all night just so I could finish this book. I really enjoyed it. I think it’s because I’m an avid reader that I really love books about bookstores. I loved the love interest, although felt like he was a bit emotionally immature for his age. That’s the other thing, I really enjoyed reading a book about a main character who isn’t 25 with a hot body, the best hair, and her whole life ahead of her to find love. 

I also loved that time passes in the book and you can really see the character arcs. However, I felt like the time jumps weren’t strong enough. They seemed to be thrown in, and some of the true emotional growth is glazed over. 

I would give this book 3.5 stars! I did really enjoy it and feel like the romance was just as great as the setting. How amazing would it be to go to Scotland and talk long walks, hang on the beach at the book’s Shed, and own such expensive and rare novels from Classics around the world?

Link to Book

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture, even after immigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping—well forcing—her to stay within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and…white.

When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother. Soon, Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.

Heya!

First, I want to say how beautiful this cover is. I love the vibrant colors, the representation through skin tone and hairstyle, and the mirror image of the guy through the glasses. When I first saw it, I was immediately like I’m reading that!

Second, I stayed up all night just so I could read this book. Then I immediately fan-girled and wrote a Tweet to the author to tell her just how much I loved it. In Ties That Tether, you get to see parts of the Nigerian culture through words, phrases, and traditions in comparison to the character’s (and author’s) experience as an immigrant in Canada. You get to see the holds that family has over your life and how you might end up with someone you don’t love just because you want to please your parents.

I’m not Nigerian but I really related to this character. All my life my parents have stressed the importance of dating within my own race and how we’ve got to ‘stick together’. I dated a few white and light skins when I was younger and was immediately labeled the daughter who would Most Likely Go White. You should’ve seen their faces when they found out that Tony, my partner and (of course) soulmate, is black.

It also goes along with how you can’t judge someone by the culture they were raised in. It’s hard to tell who is racist, who is a pushover, and who is truly willing to stay and put up with your family because they love you – when you are only looking at their ethnic background. The struggle the main character goes through to listen to her heart or the generations of ancestors is visceral and shows on the page. It might make you agree to anything – as we see over and over.

That being said, I wanted to slap this main character up the head a few times (which I’m sure she might’ve gotten from a parental figure a few times). Girl, get it together! Might I also mention how important it is to show healthy girl-friend relationships!? Everyone needs someone in their corner (even me…I need friends, ahora) and I love how more and more these days you are seeing secondary characters who are more than just a device thrown in to further the plot. Also, I think I’d like to see a sequel with her best friend as a main character and finding love!

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I’m so glad that I read it. I felt like it was the first romance in a long time that didn’t make me roll my eyes or frustrate the hell out of me – which is saying a lot. Y’all know how I love my mushy stories.

If I had a star system, I’d give this book 4 stars! Thank you Jane Igharo for introducing us to the culture with an experience that is relatable and honest.

Link to Book

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past.

Link to Book

Heya,

One of the things I enjoyed while listening to this book is the narrator. I loved her voice, her inflections, the way she did mama Vignes’ voice, and the emotions felt from her throughout. This is one of the greatest things about audiobooks. You can get into the world of the characters as if they are real. Love it!

It seems weird that I – someone who can not pass for white – found myself relating to Stella V more than her sister. Someone who started over, created new opportunities for herself, recreated who they knew themselves to be, dropped all of her family and moved on with her life (although, I held on to the last few toxic tethers for years before I finally knew what was good for me), and finally struggled with the guilt of it all. I felt that fear she had when she had been passing for white for so many years and the mere presence of a black couple (moving into her all-white community) threatened to reveal her secret. She’s just as strong a character as her twin who is dealing with an abusive partner and single mom life, and her mother whose husband was killed by a white man for no reason.

The Vanishing Half hits so many marks for me. So much so, you want to take a pen to it (or a handy notebook) and point out all the parts that you’ve been through, or know someone who’s been through, and write a long journal entry about how it’s affected your life. Oh, that was just me? Sorry.

I never understood true colorism until I was a teen. Before I had dealt with racism from other foster kids (white) and the white kids at the private school I went to but I didn’t realize it could come FOR me from my OWN people. The Vanishing Half dives deeply into the importance put on skin complexion – not just ‘color’ – in society and among family relations. There’s this part in the book when one sister returns home and everyone is wondering who that ‘dark’ girl is (her daughter) and it puts into perspective the ‘one drop’ rule. One drop of white – to black people – and you’re white. One drop of black – to white people – and you can’t EVER be white. Not even a little bit. You can’t put it on your bank documents, you can’t claim it at school, you can’t say you’re white to your white friends, and you can’t mark ‘White/Caucasian’ when getting a job.

Another interesting thing about the novel is the fact that it spans several generations. Often, I worry that there isn’t a chance to truly get to know our main characters if we make time jumps. Of course, there is no worry with Brit Bennett. The transition from one generation to the next is as smooth as butter. Not only do you see the issues of colorism from the white-passing Vignes twins but you also see it through the white daughter of one twin and the black (and dark-skinned) daughter of the other. You also get to see the world modernize, how things change in opinion about black people, and the job and educational opportunities afforded to them as time moved on.

I would definitely recommend this book, and not just to the black readers of the world. White people, and any POC, should glean the wealth of cultural knowledge between its pages. If I had to give this book a star rating I would give it 4.5 stars! If you’ve read this book please let me know in the comments! How did you feel about the points hit in this book? How do they relate to your own life?

P.S. If you have any books you’d love for me to read, please leave them in the comments!

Link to Book

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

The Word is Murder: A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.
A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.
A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.

The Sentence is Death: Richard Pryce, found bludgeoned to death in his bachelor pad with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £3,000, to be precise. Odd, considering he didn’t drink. Why this bottle? And why those words? And why was a three-digit number painted on the wall by the killer? And, most importantly, which of the man’s many, many enemies did the deed?

Heya,

I discovered The Word is Murder and The Sentence is Death while looking for another book by the author Anthony Horowitz. It made all of my little girl fantasies come true. I grew up obsessed with romance novels (and their many subgenres) but when I was in seventh grade I came across my first mystery novels. I fell in love with detective stories, murder mysteries – I’d even throw psychological thrillers in there. Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, John Grisham (because everyone needs a good lawyer mystery) and more.

I also fell in love with the idea of becoming a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones. I wanted to be a professor with a messenger bag and a magnifying glass. I loved the idea of solving crimes, deciphering codes, and pulling apart the mysteries of life. Through the novels by Horowitz, I found that. He puts himself in the book as an actual character. A Watson to Hawthorne’s Sherlock and I absolutely love it.

I love that the books are in first person and you feel like the mystery is unfolding before you. The fact that Hawthorne is an anti-hero with few redeeming qualities, and the fictional Horowitz is slowly becoming a sleuth in his own right (because everyone knows Watson was also a bit of a genius) makes me love the books even more. I have to say plural because I enjoyed both books the same. Often times, when you read a sequel you think ‘hhmm…this doesn’t seem like it has the same PUNCH as the first one’ but it does!

After reading the first book I knew what to expect and so I often found myself trying to find clues in the second book as I went alone. It was absolutely fantastic.

I saw that the second book The Sentence is Death came out in 2019 and the first was 2 years prior. I’m really hoping, seriously hoping, that there is another book coming out in the series next year. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

If I had to give these books stars I would do 4.5 for both of them! So I definitely recommend you reading them! If you do, let me know in the comments how you liked them.

Link to The Word is Murder

Link to The Sentence is Death

P.S. If you have any other suggestions for me please let me know in the comments!

Good Readdance,
Jade