2020 has brought a lot of changes on a macro and micro level. COVID-19 has impacted every facet of how we live and during this time my mom was also diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
In times of uncertainty, one constant for me has always been reading. I love reading because it is such a great escape from every day life. And who doesn’t need an escape right now?
I have completed 14 books already this year, which is higher than normal for me. Multiple times a week I have been commuting 2.5 hours each way to help care for my mom and this has afforded extra time to listen to audiobooks, which mode I support wholeheartedly!
Below you will find the reviews for the books I’ve read so far in 2020. I hope you find one that you would like to escape with for a while!
#1. Party Girl, Rachel Hollis
Overall Thoughts: Did you know that before Rachel Hollis was a self-help guru, she wrote fiction? Party Girl is the first book in a three-part book series (and you all know I love a good book series!). The series is based on Rachel Hollis’s previous life as a Hollywood party planner and the lives of three best friends. The characters are delightfully complex and relatable. This was such an easy read and I highly recommend!
#2. Sweet Girl, Rachel Hollis
Overall Thoughts: Surprise! This is the second book of Rachel Hollis’s three-part book series. I liked the first book so much that I immediately dived into the second book. Each book is written from the perspective of a different character. While I liked the main character of this book, I liked her more as the sidekick she was in the first book. However, it was still a good, easy, and enjoyable read.
#3. Smart Girl, Rachel Hollis
Overall Thoughts: This was the last book in Rachel Hollis’s fiction book series. I liked it the least. This book revolved around the last of the best friends, Miko. She is a strong, ambitious character who loses her way while trying to find love. I felt very frustrated while reading the book, but maybe that was the intent. It did have a good ending AND an epilogue, which I always appreciate. I still recommending reading the book to finish the series.
#4. Criss Cross, James Patterson
Overall Thoughts: If you’ve followed my book reviews for a while, you know that I love two different James Patterson series – The Woman’s Murder Club series and the Alex Cross series. The latest Alex Cross book does not disappoint. There is so much action and it ties up many different story lines. AND…the book ends with a huge cliffhanger! I can’t wait until the next installment is released.
#5. The Greatest You, Trent Shelton
Overall Thoughts: Read or listen to this book right now. It is so inspirational and wonderful. I first discovered Trent Shelton when he was a guest on Rachel Hollis’s RISE podcast and then I saw him speak in person at the RISExFtMyers conference in January. Trent’s story is incredible and he offers sage advice in a no-nonsense way. This book is such an easy and motivational read. And if you like it….check out Trent’s weekly podcast, Straight Up with Trent Shelton.
#6. City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert
Overall Thoughts: This was a really good, well written book. The characters were well developed and quite interesting. I laughed a lot, cried a lot, and was also in suspense. I thought this book was a little on the long side which is why I didn’t give it an A rating.
#7. The Testaments, Margaret Atwood
Overall Thoughts: I waited FOREVER to get this book from my library’s waitlist. This is the long-anticipated sequel to The Handmaids tale. I really enjoyed the different story lines and the different characters – some new, some old. However, I thought the ending was confusing, very weak, and not conclusive.
#8. The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides
Overall Thoughts: I love a good thriller, so I was very excited to read this book. It kept my interest and I thought about the plot a lot. It was an interesting story line. However, I suspected the ending about halfway through the book (and I was right) so I was a little disappointed by that! If you like this genre, it is still a good read that’s worth your time.
#9. Heartburn, Nora Ephron
Overall Thoughts: What do you do when your husband is having an affair, you have a small toddler, and another baby on the way? That is the premise of this book. It was recommend on many lists – including the Skimm reads where I initially heard about it. I listened to the audio book that Meryl Strep narrated. She did an excellent job. I was extremely frustrated with the main character, which I think was intentional. She is a food celebrity and random recipes are thrown into the book and a lot of the book revolves around food, which can be distracting and unfocused. At one point I thought about abandoning the book, but I felt I was already too committed. I think it is an okay read, but I was not super excited about it.
#10. Get Out of Your Own Way, Dave Hollis
Overall Thoughts: Dave Hollis’s first book is EXCELLENT! It has a similar structure as his wife Rachel Hollis’s self-help books. However, his tone is extremely different and very relatable. He has a completely different perspective and point of view that is valuable, vulnerable, and easy. I took a lot of notes while reading this book, and I highly recommend for anyone who often finds themselves being their biggest roadblock in the pursuit of a greater life.
#11. Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid
Overall Thoughts: My manager recommend this book and it was also one of Reese’s book club picks. I describe it as a beach read – something you want to read that is enjoyable and not too strenuous. It does discuss some serious topics but it is still a nice escape from reality.
#12. Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, Jen Hatmaker
Overall Thoughts: I first met Jen during Rachel Hollis’s RISE conference in January. I really enjoyed her speaking style and message so I signed up for her email newsletter. When she sent a message asking for people to be part of her book launch, I was so excited and intrigued. I have never been part of a book launch before, but wanted to get involved. I was thrilled to be selected and received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of the book. It was so fun to be part of the book launch and the book was great. It was easy to read and had a lot of great takeaways and suggestions to be the woman you were meant to be.
#13. Open Book, Jessica Simpson
Overall Thoughts: THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I waited for MONTHS to get this book off the waitlist and I was giddy to start reading. This truly is an open book – from her childhood, marriage to Nick Lachey, other relationships, poor coping mechanisms, and struggles with the music industry in general,she lays it all out there in an extremely honest and matter-of-fact way. My husband is probably so glad that I finished this book, but I literally talked about Jessica Simpson’s life every night at dinner. I just found it so fascinating and I truly admire her and what she has accomplished in her life, both personally and professionally. Side note: I listened to the audio book. This book is narrated by Jessica Simpson, and I must admit – it was difficult to get used to her narration. I felt like she mumbled and lacked inflection. But once I got used to her narrating style, I did appreciate her ability to stress certain points and convey emotion.
#14. Educated, Tara Westover
Overall Thoughts: WOW – this book is so interesting and heart wrenching! Again, my manager recommended this book and I love a good memoir. If you liked The Glass Castle, you will like this. The author shares about her experience growing up in a Mormon family in Idaho. Her dad is bipolar. She doesn’t go to school and isn’t even properly home schooled. She doesn’t even have a birth certificate until later in life and nobody is even sure of her exact birth date. I won’t give away the plot, but she does eventually go to school and documents everything in this poignant memoir. It is really long so make sure you are in the mood for a longer book before you commit to it. I had to check out this book (virtually) from the library twice in order to complete.