So this is a little bit different from my usual posts, but as I have mentioned before, I am an avid reader. Last year, I posted a list of all of the books I read on my social media and it was really cool to see what I had read and to share it with others. I decided to keep better track this year and to share it on my blog for the world to see.
One thing I noticed last year with the pandemic hitting, is that it really changed my reading style. I’m not sure exactly why, but I got really really into cozy mysteries. They are so light-hearted and fun that I just couldn’t get enough of them. For a short time, our inter library loan system even shut down and I did a lot of e-books and I even subscribed to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service, which I have really been enjoying.
I also read books that were more along my usual reading style, plus, I read some new and breakout authors. All in all, I have really been trying to expand my literary horizons, and I think I did pretty okay last year, but I want to keep it up into this year as well. I already started a new series by a vastly popular author that I never read before and I am so glad I picked up his book.
I even read some graphic novels last year! I’m not a graphic novel fanatic by any means, but I do enjoy some every once in awhile and I am so happy that I stumbled onto the Locke & Key series by Joe Hill. I will definitely be continuing those into 2021.
The best book I read last year was Joyland by Stephen King, closely followed by Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Joyland was just a short paperback crime novel, but a master story teller like him turned it into something truly special. It was an amazing read and I couldn’t believe I fell in love with these characters in such a short amount of pages. It may not be one of his more well known books, but I recommend it to anyone who enjoys his writing, or just good, character driven books in general.
As for Dandelion Wine, I was taken to another time and place where I learned about times past, and how much people are always the same, even when their surroundings are different. I also learned that there were arcades in the early 1900’s, and for some reason, that blew my mind! The author, Ray Bradbury, admitted that the book is fiction, but it is also loosely based on his reality as a boy growing up in Waukegan, Illinois. The beautiful way in which he writes about the mundane things of life make being alive seem magical. I fell particularly in love with the story “The Tarot Witch” from the book. It features an old coin operated fortune teller machine and it is pure magic. I’m not sure why, but I loved it so much that I had to read the story out loud to my husband. While coin operated fortune teller machines are antique now and rare to find, there is one much like the one in the book at The House on the Rock in Wisconsin. The House on the Rock and the “fortune teller” are also mentioned in the book American Gods, which I also read this year. My husband and I plan to make a trip there this year so I can put a coin in the machine and get my fortune, just like in the book. And I’ll look at him and say “And we’ll live forever.”
As for my favorite series I started last year, I think the Hannah Swensen novels by Joanne Fluke take the cake…or the cookie. I also greatly enjoyed the Cajun Country Mysteries by Ellen Byron and The Witch Squad cozy mysteries by M. Z. Andrews, which I discovered on Kindle Unlimited. I plan to read the last book in the Cajun Country Mysteries this year and continue the other two series also.
There were a couple books that also disappointed me this year that I wouldn’t recommend. I really enjoy the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” and I have read all of their books to date. I read all 4 of their script collections and all 3 of their novels. I am not one to reread books and I try not to purchase books unless they are reference books that I will revisit. The first Night Vale novel, Welcome to Night Vale, was so fantastic that I purchased it and I have reread it already. It is truly amazing. Their second book was also good, but I didn’t quite love it as much as the first. I read the third book that came out this year, The Faceless Old Woman who Secretly Lives in your Home, and I regretted reading it. The thing I like about the podcast and the first novel is that they’re absurdly funny. In the third book, I think I chuckled maybe twice. It was not the humor I was looking for and the conclusion also disappointed me. This may be a book that fans love, but it wasn’t what I was looking for and I gave my copy away. Hopefully my friend I gave it to liked it more than I did.
I also tried the first book of the Barkery and Biscuits series by Linda O. Johnston, Bite the Biscuit. I had insanely high hopes for this because it’s a cozy mystery about a dog bakery and it included recipes! This was too good to be true for me. It started out okay, but the actual sleuthing and the characters fell flat and I quickly lost interest. It wasn’t intriguing and I never found myself really into the mystery. I finished it just to say I did, and when I got to the end, I found the one dog treat recipe they included just as disappointing as the rest of the book. There are a couple other cozy series written in this vein and I would like to give those a try sometime.
Last year, I discovered Kindle Unlimited, Cozy Mysteries, and I have a real life adventure I want to take based on a book that I loved. Hopefully, this year will also bring great literary adventures and some recommendations to share with you all.
If you have a favorite (or least favorite book you read last year) I would love to hear what it is!
My 2020 Booklist
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
- The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
- All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
- The Faceless Old Woman who Secretly Lives in your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
- The Buying of Lot 37 by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
- Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill
- Year One by Nora Roberts
- Agony House by Cherie Priest
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
- Joyland by Stephen King
- Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea and Yana Bogatch (Graphic Novel)
- Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
- Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (Graphic Novel)
- What to say Next by Julie Buxbaum
- On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle
- Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Peach Cobbler Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron
- Locke & Key: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (Graphic Novel)
- Bite the Biscuit by Linda O. Johnston
- Cherry Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke
- Pit Perfect Murder by Renee George (Kindle Unlimited)
- Spells and Spiced Latte by Jinty James (Kindle Unlimited)
- Key Lime Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
- The Haunting of Gillespie House by Darcey Coates (Kindle Unlimited)
- Elevation by Stephen King
- The Case of the Sinister Spirit by Leighann Dobbs (Kindle Unlimited)
- Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron
- A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron
- Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono
- Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates
- Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron
- Sinfully Delicious by Amanda M. Lee (Kindle Unlimited)
- Potion Problem by Linnea West (Kindle Unlimited)
- Something Wicked This way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Kindle Unlimited)
- The Shadows by Alex North
- Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
- The Witch Squad by M. Z. Andrews (Kindle Unlimited)
- The Haunting of Ashburn House by Darcey Coates (Kindle Unlimited)
- Son of a Witch by M. Z. Andrews (Kindle Unlimited)
- Marvel Zombies by Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Graphic Novel)
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (Graphic Novel)
- Caffeinated Calamity by Amanda M. Lee (Kindle Unlimited)
- Who’s a Good Boy? by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor