Quarterly Favorites: October, November, & December 2020

I know I’ve been giving you all a ton of content about the books that I loved this year and I hope you’ll indulge me for one more post to round out the year of quarterly favorites. These are my ten favorite books from October, November, and December, and to be honest with you, this list was really difficult to narrow down! Plus it includes a book that would have been an honorable mention on the Contemporary Romance Favorites if I’d read it just two days sooner. So, let’s jump in.

4th Quarter Favorites

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

“We build resentments toward our loved ones. Sometimes we’re not even aware of them. But they grow so strong, they prevent us from remembering what we loved about our partners in the first place. Maybe one or both no longer wants to give their significant other the satisfaction of showing their amusement, so the other person stops trying. And the laughter dies.”

This was the second marriage in trouble book I read this year and it really solidified my love of the trope. I really loved Dominick and Rosie being in different places and struggling to make it work. Dominick was desperate to make their relationship work and Rosie was pretty sure this was it, they were done. The way they went to marriage therapy though and tried so hard to get it right was just really excellent. This book isn’t perfect. Rosie is Argentinian, but the only things about her that make that apparent is the food she makes and the dreams of the restaurant that she wants to open. But despite its imperfections, I really loved this book and I’m so glad I read it this year.

Wrapped Up in You by Talia Hibbert

“He was making her want to feel things with her entire heart, instead of only a secret hidden part, and that wasn’t – it wasn’t right, and it wasn’t safe.”

This novella is a friends to lovers that is quite angsty in large part because Abbie is still pretty fresh off a divorce from a man who made her feel like her emotions were always too much (also CW for domestic violence references). She is convinced that she is too much for everyone and just doesn’t feel good enough really to be receptive or open to Will’s sudden declaration of interest in her. A lot of this book is really focused on the inner lives of both Abbie and Will, which is something that doesn’t work for everyone. It is, however, something that works so perfectly for me. I think Talia is so good at getting emotions exactly right. I just love her and I love her writing and I think she’s a master of craft.

Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Most of us have spent our whole lives being taught to believe everyone else’s opinions about our bodies, rather than to believe what our own bodies are trying to tell us. For some of us, it’s been so long since we listened to our bodies, we hardly know how to start understanding what they’re trying to tell us, much less how to trust and believe what they’re saying. To make matters worse, the more exhausted we are, the noisier the signal is, and the harder it is to hear the message.

I think I read this book at the perfect time. I work in a job that is emotionally exhausting all the time and here lately the stress has really been getting to me. December was such a hard month for me. I intended to read this book in January, or maybe, more accurately, I was talking a good game about intending to read this book in January. But I read it when I did because it was the only already downloaded audiobook on my phone that my sister and I could agree on and we were out of data on our phone plan. This book and the way that it talks about stress and completing the stress cycle and the ways that you can do that was actually life-changing. I haven’t sat with it long enough quite yet to point out all the ways in which it has improved my life, but I know that it’s really going to help me in 2021 and I look forward to incorporating what I learned into my daily life. I’m also likely to re-read it this year so don’t be surprised if you see it again.

A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong

This time travel, gothic romance novel with a mystery was utterly delightful. This was everything I never knew I wanted and, once again, I have Aarya to thank for it. The vibes of this book are top notch. They’re spooky without being overwhelming and the angst is real. There’s a cat who is beyond precious. There are fun side characters, though I do wish we’d gotten to spend more time with the villagers. And the way the book ends had me extremely content, but also I have millions of questions. 

Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

“When you can’t keep women out anymore, and you can’t force them all to become secretaries or teachers because modern social politics demand that you at least pretend to support gender equality in the workplace, what can you do to keep women out of powerful positions in business? You can set them up to fail—or, to be more accurate, you set them up to fall.”

I’m really running out of ways to talk about the absolute brilliance of this book and you may be getting tired of hearing it, but allow me to emphasize one more time that Oluo’s writing style makes this book so accessible. And I learned so much. I was talking to my best friend today and started ranting to her about how we never learned in AP US History that President Theodore Roosevelt was absolutely terrible and completely ignored so many treaties with Native American tribes. Our national parks that he gets so much credit for are sitting on twice stolen land!! It’s an outrage and one that I truly did not know about because it’s not something we’re taught! This is not to say that I shouldn’t have learned this information prior to being 29 on my own, but I am saying that it is outrageous that we teach so little of the ways our country has systematically and by design failed certain groups of people. Anyway, this book is brilliant and I highly recommend it.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

“Elle loved herself, but what a feeling it must be, being loved by someone else exactly as you are, quirks and warts and all. She wouldn’t know.”

This book gave me so many feelings and made me cry and I just loved it so very much. I think there’s a very good chance Alexandria Bellefleur is soon to be one of my favorite authors if her debut is anything to go by. She absolutely nailed the mixture of big emotions, messiness, and hilarity that I love so much in all of my favorites. This meet disaster to fake dating to true love f/f romance appealed to me on literally every level and I just can’t express any more eloquently how much I adored this book. I bought a copy for one of my best friend’s for Christmas and if she doesn’t read it soon, I’m going to fly to where she is as soon as it’s safe and lock us in her apartment until she’s done.

The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand

“It’s true that if friends can never count on you being there the next time they need you, the place they leave for you might be very small. That’s self-defense. If you abandon people—even if it’s not your fault—they will eventually get over you and find someone else. Good for them. But you’re an adult now, and you can build things as deep and as long-lasting as you want to. I wish you wouldn’t underestimate your ability to make people love you.”

I’m so grateful Aarya brought this romance into my life too. The Chocolate Kiss is an absolutely magnificent contemporary romance that does big feelings so well. Florand is really skilled at making her characters flaws feel so real and their hang ups make so much sense. Her craft of the romance between Magalie and Philippe worked for me in every way. Magalie’s sense of concern over whether or not she could ever truly belong somewhere and what it means to be chosen over and over was just… *chef’s kiss*

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

“Some fears kill us. They drain us our whole lives, and we die filled with regret. But this isn’t one of those fears. Make a plan.”

Speaking of debut authors who got everything exactly right for me to love a book, Rosie Danan’s The Roommate gave me Clara and it’s like Rosie was looking back in my life and knew this was exactly the book my 25 year old self needed. I’m 29 now, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t relate to Clara. It’s just that I feel like I have been Clara and sometimes I still feel equally as messy and like I’m stumbling around trying to figure out how to live the life I want and not the life I feel like I’m supposed to want. Clara and Josh and their romance and the website they started was just exactly the book that I needed at the moment. And maybe exactly the book I wish I’d had a few years ago. And I cannot wait for Naomi’s book.

The Winter Sea and The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

“For if there was no winter, we could never hope for spring.”

Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit so I could actually talk about 11 books for this list, but I needed to talk about each of these! The Winter Sea and The Firebird (and for that matter The Shadowy Horses) were, as a whole, some of the most fascinating and engaging and absolutely incredible books I think I’ve ever read. There’s something about Kearsley’s prose and the captivating way she writes her books that just sucks you in. I love the dual timelines of the Slains books and I loved each of the timelines. I am now a hardcore Jacobite despite the fact that it’s been a couple hundred years really since that made any difference. But wow. These books are impeccable and I am so grateful for how thoroughly they swept me up and carried me away because that was precisely what I needed at the time.

Archangel’s Sun by Nalini Singh

And finally, we have my beloved Sharine and Titus. I love this book so much. I think there’s a solid argument for this book being my favorite of the whole year, but I’m not quite willing to make my brain pit Archangel’s Sun against Take a Hint and YDEO, so we’ll just leave it at that. I honestly don’t really know what to tell you about this book beyond it’s actual perfection and Sharine and Titus’ banter is the best. So… Yeah. Read Guild Hunters? Love Sharine and Titus? Anyway, I’m about to go re-read this one.

And that’s all from me! You’re finally through hearing about my 2020 favorites, but I hope you enjoyed. I certainly enjoyed sharing them with you and I am so excited to discover so many new favorites in 2021. Did you read any of these? If so, what did you think?

xx

2 responses to “Quarterly Favorites: October, November, & December 2020”

  1. I have only read three books from your list (The Roommate, Chocolate Kiss and Written in the Stars) and I love all 3 of those books. Laura Florand is SO GOOD. I’ve read a few of her books and they’ve all been pretty terrific. I need to read more from her. I’m glad you discovered her thanks to aarya!

    I am determined to read Guild Hunter this year. I have to!! I feel left out. I’ve heard really good things about Titus and Sharine. Glad it was the hit you wanted it to be!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m obsessed with her and since the library is not being helpful, I’m about to just throw all of my money at her. Lol

      Ooh, yes!! I hope you do and I hope you like them! They’re so different from Psy-Changeling, but I still love them.

      Like

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