My Favorite Books of 2020 (surprises, disappointments, and the best)
Hello everyone!! ❄️ I hope you’re all having a great day. I cannot believe that tomorrow is the last day of 2020. Though I don’t really want to reflect a lot about it now. Instead, today I want us to focus on some of the most memorable books I have read this year–both for good and bad reasons 😉 This means that it is finally time to share with you guys my favorite books of 2020, featuring the most disappointing and most surprising 😆🥳!! This all means that I will be talking about almost every single book I’ve read this year which makes the perfect combination for an exaggeratedly long post 😅 But oh well. I really hope you guys enjoy it and I would love to know your opinions on these as well ☺️ If you’re not in the mood to read all this feel free to skip to the books that actually interest you, or you could go right on to my favorites!
These books aren’t part of this list because they were bad, but because I expected more. It can be that I thought they would be more exciting, or I just had too high expectations. Regardless, these are the books that I hoped to love, but didn’t.
✨ Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout — I am a big fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout. I don’t love every single one of her books, but I thought I would really like this one. The trilogy wasn’t bad, but I expected much more from this first installment. Although the plot had loads of potential and had an interesting narrative, it was extremely predictable. I wasn’t surprised by anything, most of the characters were very stereotypical, and it included many tropes that are overdone. I think it fell under the curse of the 2000s YA novel, despite the fact that it is centered towards a New Adult audience.
✨ One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London — This is a good debut novel, but I expected more story-wise. I thought the writing style was wonderful and very original; it allowed us to get the full picture and witness many different perspectives that made the situation much more realistic. But, the ending, the character’s objectives, and the main conflict were a little hard for me to get behind. There were lots of things the main character did that annoyed me, and her relationship with the main love interest was frustrating and a little hard to believe at times.
✨ Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey — I am so sad that I didn’t like this. I had very high hopes for this one. After reading the second book in the series, Love Her or Lose Her, I thought this would be my favorite of the three. The sneak peek of the banter between the main characters was amazing because I am a huge fan of a good ‘ol enemies-to-lovers romance. Unfortunately, I think that both the plot and the characters were underdeveloped. There were elements of each characters’ personalities that I felt were forgotten or ignored. Similarly, the second half of the book was extremely steamy (which I usually don’t mind at all), but it completely overshadowed the story.
✨ Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren — Honestly, Christina Lauren books are hit or miss with me, but I thought I would love Twice in a Blue Moon–books about actors, theatre, and movies are usually right up my lane, which made me really intrigued about this story. Unfortunately, one of the main things that I didn’t like was how the conflict was resolved. It was way too fast and the ending felt rushed. The romantic relationship was angsty, but also very frustrating, which doesn’t make for a desirable romance. Overall, it was not a bad book, not by any means, I just thought I would enjoy it more than I did, which definitely left me high and dry.
The books that are part of my Surprising Reads list are those of which I expected a simple and enjoyable story, but ended up being great stories that blew my mind. Obviously these aren’t for everyone and they aren’t perfect, but they were much MUCH better than I thought they would be.
✨ Torn by Jennifer L. Armentrout — Because the first book was disappointing for me, this one was very surprising, though I’m still not sure if it was in a good or bad way. Torn was extremely exciting and definitely a page turner. So much happened and all the surprises that Wicked lacked were definitely included in this one. I was astounded by everything and I doubted (several times) whether or not I was reading a real book. This book addressed many heavy topics that led our characters to a trauma they would be forced to deal with, and it only helped prove how wonderful our main character, Ivy, really is. Definitely make sure to check the trigger warnings before picking this one up.
✨ Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey — So, this turned out to be the only book in this trilogy that I actually liked. Fix Her Up was good, but not great, and I think you all know what I thought of the last one. This one, on the other hand, was wonderful. I think I have a soft spot for crumbling marriages, because I really like to see our characters rebuild their relationship and watch them have a happy ending. Dominic was a treat and Rosie (although a little annoying at times) proved to be a strong and independent woman, which I obviously loved.
✨ Room-maid by Sariah Wilson — This book was much more fun than I expected. I picked it up on a whim after reading about it in a blog. I thought it was very interesting that our main character–who grew up surrounded my luxury and wealth–was suddenly thrust into a situation in which she didn’t only had to have a roommate, but also be a maid of some sort. Overall, this was a clever story and I really enjoyed the slow-burn romance (which I’m not much of a fan of). I thought both our main characters were very interesting, and I had a blast reading about how much Madison struggled with all of her chores.
✨ Zack by Sawyer Bennett — I read many romance novels, and I particularly like sports romances. Even though I don’t usually like playing sports (or watching them really), I clearly love reading about them. Our main character was adorable and had an amazing relationship with one of the kids in this story– I completely fell for it. Besides, I’m kind of a sucker when it comes to reading about grief and similar topics, so I really enjoyed getting to know Zack and how much he struggled with the loss of someone so close to him. I think this was my only five star read of the ones I read in this series.
Obviously, these are the books that I enjoyed the most this year. They aren’t necessarily the best books ever written, but they have all touched me in some way or another.
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
This was wonderful, cute, hopeful and so SO beautiful. I knew this would be good, but I could not believe HOW good it actually was 🤩 Alex and Henry are an amazing couple and I had a blast watching them fall in love. Alex, in particular, has become one of my favorite characters EVER. He was good, caring, sarcastic, and so damn hilarious 😆!! The politics were very important throughout the story, but not over the top or difficult to understand. The ending was a little unrealistic because of the social/economic/political climate we’re living in, but it is one that I really hope becomes a reality in the future.
Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear. Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all. So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes. Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving. And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final.
In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle. She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake dating thing. Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.
I read this a week ago, and it made my list. I think that’s very surprising in itself 😉 I thought this would be a normal, Christmas romance that would make me happy. It did make me happy, but it was much more deep that I thought it would be. Besides the fact that Olivia and Asher are two of the best characters I’ve read about this year, this story approaches very important topics (such as sexual assault) in a conscientious and respectful manner. I was very surprised and I loved every second of it.
Emma Woodhouse is one of Austen’s most captivating and vivid characters. Beautiful, spoilt, vain and irrepressibly witty, Emma organizes the lives of the inhabitants of her sleepy little village and plays matchmaker with devastating effect.
I never thought I would include a classic in a list like this one 😅–yeah, that’s how much I usually don’t like them. Emma was such a fun novel, and it was bursting with entertaining situations and ridiculous characters. It felt like Jane Austen was trying to mock the 18th century high class. I really sympathized with our main character and I liked her relationship with Mr. Knightley. The age difference didn’t bother me because, although it would be scandalous nowadays, that happened a lot at that time. Anyways, it was a great read. I definitely recommend the 2020 movie adaptation as well ☺️
From New York Times bestselling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward comes a love story about taking chances, and the surprises that come with them.
My love story all started with a letter. Only it wasn’t from the man I’d eventually fall in love with. It was from his daughter. A sweet little girl named Birdie Maxwell who’d written to the magazine that I worked for. You see, once a year, my employer fulfilled a few wishes for readers. Only that column didn’t start up again for months. So I fulfilled some of her wishes myself. It was harmless…so I thought. Until one day I took things too far.
While anonymously granting yet another of Birdie’s wishes, I got a look at her father. Her devastatingly handsome, single dad father. I should have stopped playing fairy godmother then. I should have left well enough alone. But I just couldn’t help myself. I had a connection to this girl. One that had me acting irrationally. Like showing up on their doorstep.
Wow. This one was VERY surprising. I did not expect to like this so much, but I was three pages in and sobbing. I’m not exaggerating. It was inspiring and filled with love and family 🥰 It was also much more Christmas related than I expected. Being honest, I’m not a fan of confrontations, so I was worried about the unavoidable conflict in this novel. But the way that the author’s managed it was very original, in my opinion. I loved the communication between our main characters and everything felt very grown up.
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?
• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.
Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit. But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
Chloe was a treat to read about. I loved her grumpiness, it was so refreshing and fun 😄 I’m not sure if I would call this an enemies-to-lovers cause they didn’t really fight that much (they didn’t even dislike each other at all). Regardless, the topics and situations were all very important. I particularly enjoyed the focus the story had on toxic masculinity, which I think doesn’t get enough representation. Overall, it was great.
Chain of Gold, a Shadowhunters novel, is the first novel in a brand-new trilogy where evil hides in plain sight and love cuts deeper than any blade.
Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.
But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.
I’m not gonna lie, this might be my favorite first book out of all the Shadowhunter series. So far my number one has been Lady Midnight, but this one has given it a run for its money. As always, there were endless descriptions that annoyed me because they are not my kind of thing, but the characters and the plot definitely make up for it. I loved watching our characters be insecure about their skills, it was wonderful to revisit all of the ones we already loved from The Infernal Devices, and I’m just a sucker for the angst that Cassandra Clare always includes in her novels 😅 I can’t wait for the next one.
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.
A standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover.
Probably the most messed up book I have ever read, but definitely one of the best. I can’t explain all of the horrible things that happened here and how disturbing it all was, but believe me when I tell you that it is pure genius 🤩 I will never be able to understand how someone came up with a story like this one. No wonder Colleen Hoover is my favorite author. This is a psychological thriller that definitely tests our perception of right and wrong and, by the end of it, you will have no idea what you just read.
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
This book isn’t the most wonderful romance novel that I have ever or will ever read. This book doesn’t have an intricate plot or clever plot twists. This book doesn’t even have the most bizarre and unique characters. But despite all of that, and because of all that, I loved it with all of my heart ❤️ Don’t get me wrong, the plot, the characters, and the dialogue are all amazing and very well done–Emily Henry deserves endless praises–, but it isn’t the kind of thing that will blow your mind and leave you speechless. But it did with me because it was exactly the book that I needed to read. This was the kind of read that comes at the perfect moment of your life and you don’t know it until you finish it. Beach Read will probably be a lifetime favorite ☺️
This is a shortened version of the synopsis because it is the second book in a series
A Betrayal… A Choice… A Secret…
But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.
Do I need to say anything? I’ve talked about this book way too much, but I just genuinely loved it. I love romance as you probably noticed, but I really like fantasy as well. This was the perfect blend of two of my favorite genres. Again, this series is definitely not for everyone. It has a specific audience, and if you’re a hardcore fantasy fan you probably won’t enjoy it. However, the characters are strong and fierce, and I think that the story gives tropes that we know very well, incredibly original twists. Also, that ending blew me away and I can’t wait for the next installment 😆!!
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.
When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.
Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.
WOW. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Woooooww. I mean, I don’t even know how someone could write a book like this. Just like with Verity, Colleen Hoover blew my mind with this one. Although it might seem like a superficial, paranormal romance, it is much MUCH more than that. It is a story about a love so significant, real, and powerful that it endures beyond realms of life. This author has a knack at perfectly conveying even the most complex feelings in her writing 😍 I fell in love with both Leeds and Layla and I cannot say more amazing things about this book!!
Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.
Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?
From the USA Today bestselling author of The Friend Zonecomes an adorable and fresh romantic comedy about one trouble-making dog who brings together two perfect strangers.
Abby Jimenez is yet another author that, in a very short time, has earned my admiration. She is officially part of my insta-buy/read list because both of her novels are just THAT good. This one in particular made me laugh, scream, scoff, and sob all at once 😄 It was bursting with emotion and the most beautiful and hard feelings you can imagine. I thought it was a great representation of how hard grief can be, and how true and good new love can be too ☺️
I really hope you guys enjoyed this. Once again, the fact that I liked or didn’t like these books does not mean that they are horrible or perfect. My opinion is obviously not objective and depends on how I feel and the moment in which I read these novels. Hopefully you will consider reading all of these as well!
Let me know some of your favorite books this year!! Are there any on this list that you didn’t like?
19 thoughts on “My Favorite Books of 2020 (surprises, disappointments, and the best)”
Wow, I’ve read so many books on your list. Favorites and disappointments too. Layla was one of my latest reads, the audiobook really sucked me in. And I had the pleasure of reading Life is Too Short by Abby Jimenez and can’t wait for you to read it. Also, I’m still not sure if I should read Verity. And I really enjoyed Dani Brown, and I’m looking forward to the next sister.
And totally agree, Faking under the Mistletoe suprised me too in a good way and it was such a great debut novel. And One to Watch and Twice under the Blue Moon were ok and solid for me but nothing special – didn’t entirely deliver.
~ Corina | thebrowneyedbookworm.com
I can’t wait to read Life’s Too Short!! 😆 I hope you liked it!! I definitely recommend Verity. It’s amazing but very disturbing, so keep that in mind if you do decide to pick it up.
I’m glad you liked the post!! 😊
I read Emma for my A Level coursework and I loved it so much, so glad it made your favourite list!
amazing list pilar!! ahh i need to start on jennifer l. armentrout soon, i keep hearing stellar reviews on her books!
I really hope you like them!! She has grown so much as an author and her more recent novels are amazing 🤩🤩
This is such a great list Pilar!! Beach Read was so good, it broke my heart in all the right ways 😍 As a matter of fact, it’s probably one of my most cried-over books of the year 😭😭 And I’m definitely intrigued by Happily Letter After now after reading your thoughts and the blurb…. and Faking Under the Mistletoe is going on my TBR for sure!! 🤩
Great post ❤️❤️
I know what you mean!! I sobbed with Beach Read and wrote a huge rant on my notes about everything I was feeling 😅 I really hope you decide to read them and that you like them!
I’m so glad you liked the post! Happy New Year Abby!! ☺️
Off the top of my head, my favourites of this year were: Chain of Gold, Tower of Nero, Addie LaRue, and An Ember in the Ashes!
I’ve only read some of these but I have heard amazing things about all!! So I can tell you have great taste 😉 Thank you for commenting May!
Love your long posts!! I enjoyed a number of these, especially Beach Read, Chain of Gold, and Emma!
Thank you Alicia!! I’m glad you liked the post and the books ☺️
I agree with quite a few of the books on your favorites list! 😊 Red, White and Royal Blue made it onto my list last year, and as for some of those other books … well, you’ll see in a couple of days 😉
Great wrap-up! The only one I’ve read here is Red, White & Royal Blue and I really enjoyed it too. I borrowed Emma from my friend but had to return it before I could finish (we were graduating hahaha), but I’ve seen almost all the film adaptations and I just love the story!
I hope you decide to finish it!! And I completely agree the adaptions are great 😄 I’ve loved every single one I’ve been able to watch!
I’m so glad you liked the post Sabrina!! ☺️
I have a lot of favorites from this year:
1. The Odyssey
2. Tom Sawyer
3. Secret Garden
4. Little Women
5. Shades of Magic Trilogy
6. Bleak House
On this list, haven’t read any of them, but read one of those authors. I read Pride and Prejudice and didn’t like it- so I haven’t read any other Jane Austen book since
Jane Austen is definitely not for everyone, so I get why you probably didn’t enjoy it that much. And great list! I really want to read Secret Garden and Little Women ☺️ The Odyssey is probably among my favorite books ever 🤩 It is an amazing story!!