2020 in Books

2020 was my first full year of reading and reviewing the books I read. I’ve really enjoyed this journey, ever since starting it in July 2019. I’ve had some ups and downs with my reading–months packed with books and months where I barely got through any. But I’m so glad I’ve gotten back into the habit of reading regularly, which I left behind when life took over! From my Goodreads “My Year in Books” page:

I miss the graphic that used be on the page, where books piled up as you read more throughout the year.

My total is more accurately 117 books for the year, because one of them is my own book that was published last month, and the other is a super short story taking place between 2 books I read.

Below are the books I read in 2020. The link is to my review for that book, and a link to the book on Goodreads is at the bottom of each review.

January

I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus by Sherri Lynn (5 / 5)
The Gray Chamber* by Grace Hitchcock (3.5 / 5)
Stealth Power by Vikki Kestell (4 / 5)
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness* by Andrew Peterson (4.5 / 5)
His Name Was Zach by Peter Martuneac (3 / 5)
The Land Beneath Us* by Sarah Sundin (5 / 5)
Head On by John Scalzi (4 / 5)

February

Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope (3 / 5)
Seconds to Live* by Susan Sleeman (2.5 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (4.5 / 5)
Blessed Are the Misfits** by Brant Hansen (5 / 5)
This Light Between Us* by Andrew Fukuda (3.5 / 5)
Heaven’s Open Book by Sheldon Peart (2.5 / 5)
Sneak by Evan Angler (4 / 5)
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (4 / 5)
The Blue Cloak* by Shannon McNear (3.5 / 5)

March

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows (5 / 5)
Home Song by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer (4 / 5)
Stealth Retribution by Vikki Kestell (3.5 / 5)
North! or Be Eaten* by Andrew Peterson (5 / 5)
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (3 / 5)
Hope Is a Dangerous Place by Jim Baton (3.5 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (4 / 5)
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun (4 / 5)
The House at the End of the Moor* by Michelle Griep (3 / 5)
The Dandelion Killer** by Wanda Luttrell (4 / 5)
The Treasure Map by Tyler Scott Hess (4 / 5)

April

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen (3.5 / 5)
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness** by Andrew Peterson (5 / 5)
The Outcast by Taran Matharu (3.5 / 5)
Star of Persia* by Jill Eileen Smith (4 / 5)
Storm by Evan Angler (4 / 5)
The Wounded Spirit by Frank E. Peretti (5 / 5)
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (4 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (5 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (4 / 5)
Adorning the Dark* by Andrew Peterson (4 / 5)
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (5 / 5)
The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin (4 / 5)
Fahrenheit 451** by Ray Bradbury (3.5 / 5)

May

4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace* by Johann Twiss (4.5 / 5)
Deep State Stealth by Vikki Kestell (3 / 5)
Time Benders: The Machine by J.B. Yanni (2 / 5)
Healing Her Heart by Laura Scott (3.5 / 5)
Unoffendable by Brant Hansen (5 / 5)
North! Or Be Eaten** by Andrew Peterson (5 / 5)
A Lady of Esteem by Kristi Ann Hunter (4 / 5)
Daughter of Cana* by Angela Hunt (4 / 5)
The Green Dress* by Liz Tolsma (4 / 5)

June

The Tech by Mark Ravine (3 / 5)
A Soldier’s Promise by Laura Scott (3.5 / 5)
The Monster in the Hollows* by Andrew Peterson (5 / 5)
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (4.5 / 5)
Eye of the Storm* by Ryan Stevenson (4 / 5)

July

A Bride of Convenience* by Jody Hedlund (3.5 / 5)
The Warden and the Wolf King* by Andrew Peterson (5 / 5)
Paris Never Leaves You* by Ellen Feldman (3.5 / 5)
What You Wish For* by Katherine Center (4 / 5)
Loving a Rebel by Linda Ford (4 / 5)
Final Chance by E.B. Roshan (3.5 / 5)
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne* by Elsa Hart (4 / 5)

August

Forsaking All Others by Kari Trumbo (2 / 5)
Don’t Keep Silent* by Elizabeth Goddard (2.5 / 5)
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (4 / 5)
The Black Midnight* by Kathleen Y’Barbo (3 / 5)
A Gathering Place by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer (3.5 / 5)
Shoelaces and Brussels Sprouts** by Nancy S. Levene (5 / 5)
Peanut Butter and Jelly Secrets** by Nancy S. Levene (5 / 5)
Grapefruit Basket Upset by Nancy S. Levene (5 / 5)

September

Armada by Ernest Cline (2 / 5)
The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow* by Kim Vogel Sawyer (5 / 5)
Sadie by Courtney Summers (4 / 5)
Time and Again by Deborah Heal (3.5 / 5)
Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery (3.5 / 5)
The Shepherd’s Wife* by Angela Elwell Hunt (5 / 5)
The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun (4 / 5)
Jubilee Manor by Bethany Hagen (4 / 5)
The Door in the Dragon’s Throat by Frank Peretti (3.5 / 5)
before i knew you by Beth Steury (3.5 / 5)

October

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead** by Tom Stoppard (4 / 5)
The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin (5 / 5)
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (5 / 5)
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (2.5 / 5)
The Lost Lieutenant* by
(2 / 5)
(2 / 5)

(3.5 / 5)

Redshirts by John Scalzi
Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery (5 / 5)
The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

November

The Monster in the Hollows** by Andrew Peterson (5 / 5)
A New Leaf by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer (3.5 / 5)
To Steal a Heart* by Jen Turano (3 / 5)
The Death Cure by James Dashner (3 / 5)
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (5 / 5)
Obsessed** by Ted Dekker (4 / 5)
Unclaimed Legacy by Deborah Heal (2.5 / 5)
A Castaway in Cornwall* by Julie Klassen (4.5 / 5)
The Cat Who Turned on and Off by Lilian Jackson Braun (5 / 5)
Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (4 / 5)
Prophet by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
Escape from the Island of Aquarius by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep (2 / 5)

December

An Ivy Hill Christmas* by Julie Klassen (5 / 5)
The Tombs of Anak by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (5 / 5)
A Christmas Star by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer (4 / 5)
The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch (4.5 / 5)
The Old Lace Shop by Michelle Griep (4 / 5)
Cupcakes for Christmas by Kate Hewitt (3.5 / 5)
Joy to the World* by Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, & Erica Vetsch (4 / 5)
All Through the Night* by Tara Johnson (4 / 5)
The End of the Magi** by Patrick W. Carr (4 / 5)

This list includes 32 ARCs (marked with a *) and 11 re-reads (marked with a **). I’m not going to try to pick my single favorite book from the year, but I did post about my top 10 favorites already. During the last year, I started 13 series and finished 10 series (some started in 2019). I currently have 10 series in progress. I also DNF’d 2 books (not listed anywhere in this post).

I’m really glad to see that I gave a much higher ratio of 5-star ratings this year than I did in 2019. Also a higher ratio of ratings 4 stars and above, which are all books I consider very good. I’ve started to find my preference in books, I think, while still trying to make sure I read outside of my preferred genres some, to keep things fresh and keep my mind open to new things.

Here is a break-down of the ratings I gave (there were a few books I read twice during the year, so I only counted them once each):
1 star: 1
1.5 stars: 0
2 stars: 7
2.5 stars: 5
3 stars: 9
3.5 stars: 21
4 stars: 39
4.5 stars: 7
5 stars: 24
Average rating: 3.85

Based on 2020’s results, I’ve set my 2021 reading goal on Goodreads at 125 books. I know I have a lot of short and/or middle-grade books I plan to read, so interspersing those will make 125 not too difficult to reach, barring unforeseen circumstances.

My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here. I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads, if anyone is interested in that.

What did you read last year? Let me know in the comments, and even feel free to link to your own summary post!

2019 in Books

To make a long story short, in July of 2019, I made a commitment to read more. And by more, I mean at all. I posted more in depth about this at the time, and won’t re-hash it here, but looking back at what I read in 2019 really means the 2nd half of 2019, since the beginning of July is really when all of this started.

From my Goodreads 2019 in bookspage:

My total is more accurately 47 books for the year, because one of them is my own soon-to-be-published book, and the other is this super short thing that I read in two minutes.

Below are the books I read in 2019, starting with July. The link is to my review for that book, and a link to the book on Goodreads is at the bottom of each review.

July

Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren (3.5 / 5)
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (3.5 / 5)
The Oath** by Frank Peretti (5 / 5)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (3.5 / 5)
The Novice by Taran Matharu (4 / 5)
The Trials of Lance Eliot by M.L. Brown, a.k.a. Adam Stück (no rating given)

August

The Curious Conspiracy on Gamma Ceti* by Nemo West (2.5 / 5)
Light from Distant Stars* by Shawn Smucker (1.5 / 5)
Thr3e** by Ted Dekker (4.5 / 5)
Things You Save in a Fire* by Katherine Center (4 / 5)
Tilly by Frank E. Peretti (3.5 / 5)
Lock In by John Scalzi (4.5 / 5)
#NotReadyToDie* by Cate Carlyle (2.5 / 5)
The Inquisition
by Taran Matharu (4 / 5)
Lost and Found* by Orson Scott Card (2.5 / 5)
Illusion by Frank E. Peretti (5 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (3.5 / 5)

September

Strands of Truth* by Colleen Coble (2 / 5)
The Yellow Lantern* by Angie Dicken (3.5 / 5)
Swipe by Evan Angler (3 / 5)
Fatal Strike* by DiAnn Mills (4 / 5)
Stealthy Steps by Vikki Kestell (3.5 / 5)
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (3.5 / 5)
Synapse* by Steven James (3.5 / 5)
Cilka’s Journey* by Heather Morris (4 / 5)
Holes** by Louis Sachar (4.5 / 5)

October

Smoke Screen* by Terri Blackstock (4 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (4 / 5)
Mother Knows Best* by Kira Peikoff (3 / 5)
The Battlemage by Taran Matharu (4 / 5)
The Dinner Party* by R.J. Parker (2 / 5)
Priceless by Joel & Luke Smallbone (4.5 / 5)
The Butterfly Recluse* by Therese Heckenkamp (3 / 5)

November

The Martian by Andy Weir (4.5 / 5)
The Passengers* by John Marrs (3 / 5)
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (5 / 5)
The Dead Girls Club* by Damien Angelica Walters (2 / 5)
The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek by Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal (4.5 / 5)

December

The End of the Magi* by Patrick W. Carr (4 / 5)
Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock (2 / 5)
Skipping Christmas by John Grishom (3.5 / 5)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, adapted by Lucia Monfried (4.5 / 5)
The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans (3.5 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (3.5 / 5)
A Plain and Simple Christmas by Amy Clipston (2 / 5)
12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep (4 / 5)
Cape Light by Thomas Kinkade & Katherine Spencer (3 / 5)

This list includes 16 ARCs (marked with a *) and 3 re-reads (marked with a **). My favorite book from 2019 was Illusion by Frank Peretti. I started 10 series and finished 1 of those within the year. I also DNF’d 2 books (not listed anywhere in this post).

I’ve noticed that I seem to give out a lower ratio of 5-stars compared to other book reviewers. I don’t know if I’m too critical, too picky, or what. I do suspect, though, that being a writer has seriously hampered my ability to just enjoy a book and not dwell on plot holes, characterization issues, bad dialog, or even bad grammar, more than others might do.

Here is a break-down of the ratings I gave
1.5 stars: 1
2 stars: 5
2.5 stars: 3
3 stars: 5
3.5 stars: 12
4 stars: 10
4.5 stars: 7
5 stars: 3
Average rating: 3.5

Looking ahead, I’m excited to start a full year of reading. I’ve set my goal for the year on Goodreads at a lofty 100 books. Just based on how last year went, I’ll probably have to push for extra in the summer to make up for the rest of the year, but I’ll give it a try. I also plan to seriously cut down on the amount of ARCs I request, because it got to be really stressful, and I felt like I could never read anything else. I’m looking forward to the ones I have left on my shelf though.

My format for reviewing changed a bit throughout last year, and going forward, I’m going to try to simplify my reviews a bit. I spent way too much time on some of them, and the more I disliked a book, the longer the review tended to be. There’s just no reason to spend so much time detailing every fault I found, so I want to learn to summarize more.

My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here. I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads, if anyone is interested in that.

What did you read last year? Let me know in the comments, and even feel free to link to your own summary post!