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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

43 / 50 books. 86% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 40 books. 63% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

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6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

23 / 100 books. 23% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

61 / 165 books. 37% done!
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: 2020 Top Ten Favorite Reads

Photo cred: Brenna Lee Photo
It's the last Top Ten Tuesday of the year!  Can you believe it?  I'm having trouble grasping the fact that 2020 is over as well as the idea that my oldest will be getting married on Saturday.  So surreal!  It makes sense that the final TTT of 2020 is a list of our top reads of the year.  Although I'm still hoping to sneak in another finish before January 1, as of now I've read 191 books this year.  Of those, I marked 25 with asterisks, indicating they were favorites.  Not including re-reads of past faves like A Christmas Carol, I narrowed my list down to the best of the best—my ten most loved reads of the year.  Although you can't tell from this list (which features mostly fiction by women, the majority of whom are white), I actually read a fair amount of non-fiction as well as lots of books written by men and women of various ethnicities, nationalities, and backgrounds.  These are just the books I happened to like most.  

I'd love to know what your favorite reads of 2020 are.  You should definitely make your own list and join in the TTT fun.  Hop on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

My Top Ten Reads of 2020 (in no particular order):

1.  Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker BradleyThis is a devastating, but important and impactful MG novel about domestic violence.  My review.

2.  Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar—Vivid and searing, this MG novel-in-verse about a family torn apart by controversial U.S. immigration policies is heart-breaking and eye-opening.  Another gutting but essential read.  My review.

3.  The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson—Part mystery, part family drama, this is an engrossing read about a (real) famous jewel and how its (fictional) discovery impacts an ordinary family.  My review.

4.  The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper—This is an atmospheric historical novel set in Australia that also features a mysterious jewel.  My review.

5.  Beyond the Horizon by Lois Lowry—A moving memoir-in-verse, this slim book recounts the author's experiences as a young girl in Hawaii during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and in post World War II Japan.  My review

6.  Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain—Set in North Carolina in 1960, this heart-wrenching novel focuses on poverty and the routine, forced sterilization of the poor and mentally challenged that took place at that time.  My review.

7.  The Last Blue by Isla Morley—If you loved The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, give this historical novel a try.  It also features the Blue people of Kentucky and is an immersive, intriguing, and tender novel.  My review.

8.  The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson—Speaking of ... I'm not alone in loving this popular book.  It deserves all the accolades it has received.  My review.

9.  The Split by Sharon Bolton—Bolton's newest is a bit of a departure from her usual crime fiction and I loved it.  It's part mystery/suspense, part survival story.  My review.

10.  Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon—I love a good pioneer novel and this is exactly that.  It concerns a group of people traveling along the Overland Trail.  My review.

There you go, my ten favorite books of the year.  What were your most-loved reads of 2020?  Have you read any of mine?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave me a comment on this post and I'll gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!    

It's Ally Carter! What More Do I Need to Say?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

April might be temporarily caught within the foster care system, but she's not like other foster kids.  Not only is her mother alive, but she's also coming back for April just as soon as she can.  The other children might laugh at her for believing in the promise pledged in the note that was left at the fire station along with 3-year-old April, but April knows her mom would never totally abandon her.  She just needs to be patient.  

Patience has never been April's strong suit, which is how she ends up setting a museum exhibit on fire.  The incident brings her to the attention of a charity funded by the wealthy Winterborne Family, which has decided to house a group of foster children in its ornate mansion.  Gabriel, the Winterborne heir, disappeared ten years ago, leaving a great mystery in his wake.  April's entranced by the thought of solving it while also figuring out why the necklace April's mother left her bears the Winterborne crest.  The answers must be inside the great mansion, but where?  The place is massive and crammed full of tantalizing secrets ... Can April unravel its many puzzles, including the mystery of her own past?

If you've read books by Ally Carter before, you're not going to be at all surprised to hear that her newest, Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor, is a sassy, upbeat read that's full of adventure and mystery.  It stars a diverse cast of middle-schoolers who are sympathetic and likable, along with peripheral grown-ups who add additional layers of intrigue to the tale.  Revealed in short, exciting chapters, the plot is compelling and engrossing, making the book an enjoyable page-turner.  While this first book in a planned series answers some of the questions its plot poses, it leaves plenty more to be revealed in a sequel (or two).  I, for one, am eagerly anticipating the second book!

(Readalikes:  The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Mystery/Family Drama Novel a Nuanced, Touching Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ever since her dad died three years ago, Maddy Gaines' anxiety has been out of control.  The 11-year-old sees danger lurking around every corner, even if no one else does.  She's made so many emergency calls to local authorities that they don't take her seriously anymore.  So, when she meets a mysterious boy setting booby traps in the cemetery, a boy who looks an awful lot like one who went missing six months ago, Maddy knows she can't take her knowledge to the police without proof that the kid really is Billy Holcom.  Maddy is warned off the hunt by her arch enemy, who insists the boy is just his visiting cousin.  She won't be thwarted that easily, not when she's discovered a real emergency, but she will be sure to gather proof this time.  The boy is Billy and Maddy aims to make sure he's found.  When she discovers a reason he might need to stay hidden, however, she realizes that not everything is as it seems.  Is she truly rescuing the kid or putting him in more danger?

Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin is a nuanced middle-grade novel that's part mystery, part family drama.  Maddy has a lot to deal with—grief over losing her dad, managing her anxiety, accepting her new, trying-too-hard stepfather, and grappling with a BFF who's leaving Maddy behind as she grows up too fast—even before she starts playing detective.  Her earnestness is appealing, making her a character who's easy to like and root for.  Plot-wise, Every Missing Piece is exciting and engrossing.  The book is also full of subtle lessons about friendship, family, and figuring out how to adapt when change rocks your safe, orderly world.  Every Missing Piece is a touching novel that I very much enjoyed.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a bit of Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, tough subject matter (death of a parent, domestic violence, etc.), and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find  

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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

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