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My Goodreads goal for the year was 80 books. Right now I’m sitting at 82 books read, and I’ll probably finish a couple more before the year ends. So, a good bookish year!
As always, some of the books I read were more enjoyable than others. I wanted to take a moment and share a few of my favorites with you. So here they are, in no particular order!
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (Wingfeather Saga #1) by Andrew Peterson
If y’all have read along with my blog, you’ll already know this is one of my favorites of 2020. There are four books in the series, and every one is worth reading. I’m mentioning book one here because this is the one that started it all. It’s billed as children’s fiction, but it’s an amazing read for adults, too. Chock full of action and adventure, it’s got moments that made me gasp audibly and moments that made my eyes well up with tears. It is a wonderful story of faith, love, redemption, and doing the right thing even when it’s hard.
South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber
I was delighted to have a chance to read an advance copy of this book, as I was already pretty sure, after Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, that Heather Webber was going on my list of authors whose works I’d pick up without even knowing what they were about. This confirmed it. South of the Buttonwood Tree is a story set in the small town of Buttonwood, Alabama. Legend has it that you can ask the buttonwood tree for guidance once a year. The tree will give you a button with its answer, but be prepared to follow its advice – supposedly, failing to do so subjects you to a curse. The book is, in short, magical. It’s full of the pettiness and gossip you so often find in small towns, but it’s also got love and sacrifice and forgiveness. Secrets revealed after being held close for far too long. Family. Healing. This book cemented Ms. Webber’s place on my short list of must-read authors.
Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
Are you a woman of a certain age who’s tired of reading books with pretty young things as protagonists? You might enjoy Mario Giordano’s Auntie Poldi series. Isolde Oberreiter, or Poldi, thinks she wants to retire to Sicily, near family, to live by the sea and quietly drink herself to death. Thankfully for us, readers, she’s got too much of her father’s investigative nature, and when a young man who’s been helping her with odd jobs dies suddenly, she feels like she has to figure out whodunnit. Poldi is an absolute joy. She is a mature woman who knows what she wants. When she wants to solve a crime, nothing will stop her from investigating. She charges ahead like a ship under full sail. And when she decides she fancies local investigator Vito Montana, well, nothing will stop her there, either. Even though she moved to Sicily thinking her life was over, it’s the start of a whole new set of adventures for Poldi. Maybe she’s not quite so ready to shuffle off this mortal coil after all.
The Queen of Veils (Princess Vigilante #4) by S. Usher Evans
The final installment in S. Usher Evans‘ Princess Vigilante series is a humdinger. If you haven’t yet read the series, you really need to start with the first to get the entire story.
In this fourth book, Brynna, the titular Princess Vigilante, is fighting to win back her kingdom from a backstabbing opponent who originally presented herself as a friend. She’s built an army, but will it be enough? Has she learned that she can trust those who love her and support her to help carry this burden? Will she be able to reclaim Forcadel and become the queen her people need? Evans does an amazing job of world-building and character development, and it has been a treat to see Brynna change and grow during this series. The story is rich with intrigue and emotion, and had me finishing it in two days only because my day job expected me to work – otherwise, I’d have been done in one. If Evans’ work is new to you and you’re a fantasy fan, please, do yourself a favor and check out everything she’s written. You might need a shelf devoted to her books like I have!
The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox
Amanda Cox’s debut novel is a dual-time story, told from both Ivy Rose Lashley’s point of view in the present day, and as seen through the lives of those who will become near and dear to her, back in 1994. I was thrilled to have the chance to be on the blogger team for The Edge of Belonging because it touches on two subjects of importance to me. One, Ivy Rose is adopted. I was adopted as an infant, and I grew up knowing that to be the case. It was never a surprise to me, and I never doubted the love my parents had for me. I didn’t grapple with some of the same things Ivy struggles with. But I have that sense of kinship with everyone who grew up in a family other than the one they were born to. Two, the story deals with an abusive relationship. Back in my days as an assistant district attorney, I saw my fair share of abused women. My heart ached for every one of them, and I saw how difficult it was for them to break free from the situations in which they often felt trapped. I’m no longer a trial attorney, but that is one of the very few things I would consider getting back into prosecution for, helping women and children who cannot, in those cases, help themselves. Here, Ivy Rose has to fight to free herself from the clutches of the man she thinks she’s going to marry, the man who thinks she needs him to give her value, worth, a place in the world. (Spoiler: She does not.) This story will break your heart and put it back together, and I look forward to reading much more from Ms. Cox.
4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace by Johan Twiss
Fourteen-year-old Aaron is paralyzed, apparently in a vegetative state. His parents have moved him to a nursing home for care. But no one knows that Aaron is very much alive and well inside his mind until a new roommate, Solomon, moves in. Solomon is an elderly man in the early stages of dementia, and somehow, he can hear Aaron’s thoughts. Aaron also gets pulled into Solomon’s ever more frequent journeys into his past. This book was a delight to read. Whatever I expected it to be when I picked it up, it is so much more. Johan Twiss turns a wonderful phrase. He captures both the attitude of a teenage boy stuck in a prison not of his own making and the crusty exterior and heart of gold of an elderly Jewish man who’s somewhere he doesn’t really want to be, and he takes us on a tour of history when Solomon revisits events in his life. And is it really about time travel, too? Read it and draw your own conclusions.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The Starless Sea has been sitting in my TBR pile for a while. I finally picked it up and read it in this, the last month of 2020, and I am so glad I did! I’ve heard a number of people compare this unfavorably to Morgenstern’s earlier work, The Night Circus. Honestly, they were apples and oranges for me, and I loved them both. The Starless Sea is not The Night Circus, nor is it meant to be. If you pick it up expecting a sequel, or a book in the same universe, you’re likely to be disappointed. But if you seek a beautifully crafted work that takes you down meandering paths of story, you need this book. The tale of the adventure into which Zachary Ezra Rawlins falls after finding a strange book in the library isn’t a fast-paced, hang-on-to-your-hat thriller. It winds, and twists, and folds in on itself, and sometimes you might have a hard time seeing where it’s going before it unfurls. But as with any proper story, connections are made, conclusions reached, and all is revealed in due time. Morgenstern’s style of writing just sings, and I am happy to be carried along on the song. I guess I’m one of those people who loves literature and reading and story, so this book was most definitely my cup of tea!