Year in Review: 2020


Year: 2020
Goal: 150 Books

Read: 236 Books (267 including rereads)

I exceeded my reading goal…twice! Originally set at 100 books, I increased it as I inched closer to it and decided to increase it to 150. I met that goal, and then just kept reading. I read over 200 books (novellas included), and it was completely unexpected. I didn’t realize how much I’d read until I made more of an effort to track what I was reading on Goodreads. I went from a very, very long reading slump to reading nearly anything that sounded interesting to me. I’m positive this was an unprecedented year for me in reading so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to read in 2021.

Read at least 125 BOOKS



Year: 2020
Goal: 1
Posted: 51

One of the best things that could have happened to me this year was discovering the bookish community and subsequently the bookish blogging community, which helped me to start my own blog. When I started reading again, I did not expect to become active on Twitter and I did not expect to start a blog…until I did. I reached out to Leelynn at Sometimes Leelynn Reads and she was welcoming and super helpful. It’s the end of 2020 and I’m still navigating a lot of things including being more consistent in terms of posting and my voice. However, I recognize that my posts are dependent on my mood during or after I finish a book…so I’m a mood blogger as well as a mood reader. The most consistent I am may will be how inconsistent I am. Heh…

Cross my fingers and hope for 51 posts
Celebrate my one year milestone

These are my five star reads of the year.ttt_cover-1The Crown Jewel of 2020
This was my top read of 2020. I planned a review for Today Tonight Tomorrow but I could never get it just right. Maybe one day, I’ll actually be able to post up how amazing this book was, how it made me nostalgic, and how I sat smiling after I finished it and just thought about how much I enjoyed high school…and then I remembered the one that got away. (hahaha)


  • “We’re so in love with our past, we can’t trust that there are good things waiting for us in the future. And we have to move on. We have to make bold steps and believe in ourselves and in each other.” — In Case You Missed It (Lindsey Kelk)
  • “Braveness isn’t always loud. Sometimes it’s silent. There’s braveness in sacrifice and kindness. It’s in doing a thing that needs to be done, even though it’s hard, and even though it hurts.” — A Thousand Letters (Staci Hart)
  • “You can be strong and have moments of incredible despair. Those moments are not weaknesses. They are simply moments. And they are not you.” — Hate to Want You (Alisha Rai)


  • “I already know that every time with her, it will be perfect, but I could do a million takes and never feel like I got it just right. Because I didn’t get to be her first. Because she wasn’t my first. But if I can be her best and last, I might come close to showing her that it’s the first time that anything I’ve ever done with a woman has felt this good and real.” — Sleeper (Kayley Loring)
  • “A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.”  — We Hunt the Flame (Hafsah Faizal)


  • “People say time heals all wounds, but that’s just a lie. Grief is a chronic disease. The pain just keeps on coming.” Midnight Valentine (J.T. Geissinger)

Christmas Playlist 2020: The Christmas Song

Track 07: Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song

Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” creates the perfect atmosphere to celebrate the holiday. Here are some recommendations that might help make Christmas even cozier.

Recommendations for Christmas Day


I have a weakness for candles that smell good.  I love burning candles throughout the house.  My favorite FrostedCranberry_imagescents come from Bath and Body Works. (Yes, I look forward to candle day and mark it on my calendar.)  Tis the Season has the classic smell of Christmas and is on the spicier end of things. Frosted Cranberry has a sweeter, fruity scent (probably that of TistheSeason_imagecranberries…I know).  Also I could just be imagining it but there’s this distinct sort of bitter undertone to the White Barn Frosted Cranberry that I smell when I burn it.  Because of that, I prefer the one marketed under Bath and Body Works.  But, again, I could just be imagining the whole thing. 


Steamy. This is the book that led me to Loring and I never looked back.
Sweet (and steamy). One of half our couple wears her heart on her sleeve.
Tearjerker. I got my heart hung out to dry. My favorite novel from Staci Hart.


If you’re looking for something warm, please go for the classic hot chocolate.  On the other hand, if OregonChai_imagesomething cold is preferred, I encourage you to drink a spiced chai tea.  Yup, that’s what I said.  The first time I tried it, all I could think was, “I’m drinking Christmas.”  My cousin was confused until she tried it, and she went, “Oh…” I drink this year round.  One day, I’ll learn to make my own.  But for now, I use Oregon Chai’s Spiced Chai Tea Latte Concentrate Mix (because that’s the one that’s easiest to for me to find) and mix it with half-and-half.  The directions say it should be mixed in equal parts but I just mix it to my liking–a bit more concentrated so there’s more Christmas in it. 

Now, grab a blanket and your favorite snack! Sit by the fireplace…or switch on the one from Netflix (I sometimes do this in my office). I won’t be posting on the 25th because I’ll likely be doing all the above.  While I am Christmas centric, I know different holidays are celebrated around this time as well…so happy holidays!

Have you tried or read any of these? I’d love to know your thoughts! What are you favorite things for the holidays? Is there a certain drink you recommend or a book? Please feel free to share below.

01 Wham! – Last Christmas
02 Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
03 Katy Perry – Cozy Little Christmas
04 Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You
05 Michael Buble – Blue Christmas
06 Goo Goo Dolls – This is Christmas
07 Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)

Ambiance with music, with music here too, and now without music.

10 Rules for Faking It (2020)

by Sophie Sullivan
ISBN: 9781250624161
Publication: December 29, 2020
Series: N/A

**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

After Everly accidentally spills that her boyfriend cheated on her to thousands of listeners, she creates a list to help her win at life, or at least to help her fake it. At the same time, her boss Chris also comes up with a contest to help her find love…and to help keep her job, of course.

Grab the book for the romance and one of the sweetest, most understanding love interests readers will find (trust me when I say I can go on and on about him) but stay for Everly’s journey as she tests her boundaries and learns to accept herself for who she is. This is what will have readers connecting with and rooting for her as well as her courage to step out of her comfort zone, to stand up for herself, and ultimately recognizing she doesn’t need to be like everyone else.

It does get frustrating wondering if our leads will get together. There is quite a bit of internal dialogue from both of them about whether the other person could ever feel the same as well as denying their own feelings. Initially, it induced all these butterflies in my stomach but the butterflies started to disappear when the back and forth went on too long. However, there were still enough butterflies left over for me to enjoy the book. Overall, it’s a great read to start the new year with.

Christmas Playlist 2020: This is Christmas

Track 07: Goo Goo Dolls – This is Christmas

This was an unexpected surprise while I was making my playlist. The Goo Goo Dolls released a Christmas album in September, but it was only recently I was able to listen to it. The stand out songs on the album are “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and this particular track on my playlist, “This is Christmas.” The song gives off this sense of longing and makes me feel nostalgic. What makes Christmas…Christmas? Why is Christmas or this particular season one of my favorite times of the year?

This is Christmas

“Wish on stars above
for the ones we love
this is Christmas”

Wreath_familyDuring this time of the year, it’s about taking a break from work and spending it with family. I miss my family a lot when the holidays get closer. We used to all live in California, but now we’re scattered throughout the country. Last year, my brother and his family were able to visit for a few days.  It was great to have kids around the house, despite their preoccupation with their electronics.  It was a reminder that there’s nothing quite like having family around.  I bought books for my niece and nephew, and my nephew was so disappointed.  He asked his mom why she didn’t tell me what he really wanted for Christmas.  It was funny, at least to my sister-in-law and me but he was so sad.  Maybe we’ll able to Zoom and still be able to spend some time together this year.


I have a close knit group of friends.  I can’t even say we’re really a group because there are only three of us–we’re a triangle.  We keep one another sane throughout the year despite hardly seeing each other since we live so many hours from each other. My friends and I joke that when we’re together, it’s easier to talk side-by-side because we’re used to not seeing one another’s face. Hehehe. This year, there was a decree that we do Secret Santa gift exchange.  Surprisingly, it was not my suggestion. With only three people, it isn’t really a secret so there’s just a long running joke now that “Santa” insisted on asking about someone’s bookish wishlist or where to send things.  “Santa” has never asked so many questions or made so many demands as he has this year.  Yes, this is how we keep one another sane. We’re geeky but my friends are the best. Christmas would not be the same without them.


I love presents!  Not necessarily getting them but giving them.  If there’s going to be a gift exchange, I try to initiate it during the summer.  I’ve tried doing it sooner but then people think I am crazy when I do.  I’m just so excited to buy gifts!  Throughout the year, I try to pick up on little things friends and family mention and store it in the back of my mind.  I try to take care with wrapping gifts and adding little touches like sprays, tags, or ornaments. It’s the best sight to see when the recipient opens their gift, especially when it’s something they forgot about or they thought no one paid attention to when they were talking about needing or wanting something. Being able to put joy on someone’s face and knowing that I contributed to their day is fulfilling.

Share what makes this season special for you.
I’d love to hear your stories.

Fairy Godmothers, Inc (2020)

by Saranna DeWylde
ISBN: 9781420153149
Publication: December 29, 2020
Series: Fairy Godmothers, Inc. #1

**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Fairy Godmothers, Inc. is a cross between the movie Enchanted (fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously) and television series Once Upon a Time (beloved characters in the middle of somewhere no one really knows). Our fairy tale characters are real, and they live in a town in Missouri called Ever After. With magic depleting, a plan is hatched by three fairy godmothers to replenish it by having their godchildren, Lucky and Ransom, pretend to marry one another as a publicity stunt. Love increases magic so maybe having a fairy tale wedding will increase the number of weddings booked at the castle.

With this being the first in what looks to be a series with the same name, our fake bride Lucky and fake groom Ransom have to split the story to their “happily ever after” with introducing readers to the town and its cast of characters. Lucky has a particularly interesting backstory but it isn’t until halfway through the book that we get to learn more about her. I really wish more time had been spent on it. There’s an additional reveal that happens in the story closer to the end that I did not think was necessary to the story.

Overall, the book is entertaining, and Lucky and Ransom’s road to forever is pretty hilarious. This is a 3.5 star read for me. I liked the overall premise of the series (4 stars) but everything happened so quickly I didn’t get to spend time with our main couple as much as I wanted (3 stars).

Romance Interlude 1.8

These are like the books with the pictures I grew up associating romance novels with. Set in some time period with a man, often a duke and often bare chested man, on the cover holding a woman in some salacious pose. But they’re also kind of not because there is diversity here. Someone, please loosen my corset and fan me because they’re pretty steamy.

The Duke Who Did Not (2020)
by Courtney Milan
ISBN: 9781937248710
Publication: September 22, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Wedgeford Trials #1

One liner: Woman who loves lists is enlisted by a man she likes to create a list of qualities of the woman he plans to marry.

This was a book that I really wanted to like a lot more than I actually did. I first read Milan’s Trade Me and did like it so wanted to pick up one of her more recent novels. It’s a very interesting premise, taking place in a village where Chinese immigrants reside. Chloe Fong is likeable and dedicated to her lists. She is much more serious in comparison to Jeremy Wentworth, whom she has a bit of a crush on though she tries to deny it. Jeremy Wentworth is normally my type of love interest in a novel (in real life…hehehe) because he’s funny, loves to tease, and always in a seemingly good mood but I found myself agree with Chloe that he just couldn’t seem to take anything seriously. I was irritated with him, especially because it took him forever to be honest with her about who he wanted his wife to be. I was a bit disappointed that the actual Wedgeford Trials, didn’t take a larger role in the book. I wanted to see the game play out. Overall, the writing is good but it felt overly long at times, likely due to my irritation with Jeremy Wentworth. I would still be interested in reading more from the Wedgeford Trials series though, especially with a different love interest.

The Governess Game (2020)
by Tessa Dare
ISBN: 9780062672124
Publication: August 28, 2018
Goodreads Summary
Series: Girls Meets Duke #2

One liner: After the umpteenth governess quits, a duke decides to hire an unconventional governess to oversee his wards.

This book hit all the right spots and then some. I will definitely be reading more from Tessa Dare. Chase is a womanizer and Alex fixes clocks but finds herself in need of a job so becomes a governess despite lacking any experience. Her lack of experience actually makes her perfect for the job because she is willing to go about education the girls in a different way. I loved how she goes about it. Alex is perfect for Chase because she isn’t afraid of him, despite insistence that she doesn’t want to get involved with him. She ends up tearing down some of his defenses. It’s Rosamund and Daisy, the wards Chase basically inherits, that are the highlights of the novel. The number of funerals Chase, Alex, and Rosamund, and Daisy attend are hilarious! I love the makeshift family that forms out of this.

My Beautiful Enemy (2014)
by Sherry Thomas
ISBN: 9780425268896
Publication: August 5, 2014
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Heart of Blade Duology #2

One liner: A thief and a spy, former lovers, meet again nearly a decade later.

This is an example of another book I wanted to love more than I did. It made me feel all the right things but it never pushed me over the edge. It was like putting on a harness and getting ready to bungee jump only to be told you don’t get to jump. That’s right, you’ll just get to look over the edge. The sense of longing was present, wishing Catherine and Captain Atwood could reunite with one another. It’s clear they’re still not over one another, and Thomas hits this spot on. I liked Catherine and I liked Captain Atwood. The villain isn’t the most interesting or complex in the story and the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been. The book alternates between the present and the past. I found the chapters about their past to be a lot more interesting while those in the present felt more subdued.

Christmas Playlist 2020: Blue Christmas

Track 05: Michael Buble – Blue Christmas

I admit it. I have a soft spot for Michael Buble. There are an abundance of covers of this song, including one from Elvis Presley (the pinnacle for this song) that is constantly on the radio or wherever music can be played/heard and so on but I always return to this one.

What makes me blue? Lots of things but especially thinking about my leaning tower of TBR. I listed books with blue covers from my “master TBR.” My goal is to read them sometime in the first half of 2021. I’m trying to positive about this. I can do it!

“I’ll have a blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you”


All the Stars and Teeth (2020)
Goodreads Summary

The title went on sale and I was alerted. It’s hard for me to say no to a good deal especially when the summaries are so good. Maybe I will finally be able to read this and then read All the Tides of Fate when it comes out in February 2021.

Magic Dark and Strange (2020)
Goodreads Summary

I blame blog hopping for this one. Thank goodness because I don’t think I would have found it had it not been for the blogger that posted a review. It sounds so good.

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune (2019)
Goodreads Summary

Here’s to diverse reads! I love the fun cover. The book sounds like it will be a mash of culture, family, and magic set in San Francisco. I think the cover does a good job of capturing the things that remind me of San Francisco.

The November Girl (2017)
Goodreads Summary

This is a title I have to blame for going on sale during the summer. The book sounded interesting, which encouraged me to impulse buy. I momentarily forgot about it until I recently finished reading Kang’s The Impossible Girl (2018), which I liked a lot.

Recipe for Persuasion (2020)
Goodreads Summary

I see Austen retelling and my fingers can’t help but inch toward it. Persuasion is one of my favorites and I’m excited to read a diverse retelling of it. The reviews seem to be mixed though. I’m still looking forward to reading it though.

Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts. If you’ve reviewed them, drop a link below so I can check it out.

Here are links to a few covers I like:
Hunter Hayes
The Lumineers
Elvis Presley
Callum Wright

Christmas Playlist 2020: All I Want for Christmas is You

Track 04: Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You

Mariah Carey co-wrote and released this song in 1994. This is such an upbeat song I can’t help dancing around the house to it. Like Wham!’s Last Christmas, this has been covered numerous times, a contemporary that is now a classic Christmas song. The song is 26 years old!! What happened to the time?!

The song is all about wanting that special someone to be there for Christmas, willing to forgo unnecessary things like hanging stockings and presents under the tree. I thought this would be perfect for talking about book crushes. You know, those fictional (or nonfictional) characters in books that made your heart beat faster or let go of that breath, the one you didn’t realize you were holding (hehehe).

“I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true”


Hate to Want You (2017)
by Alisha Rai
ISBN: 9780062566737
Publication: July 25, 2017
Series: Forbidden Hearts #1
Goodreads Summary

After reviewing my list of books (and smiling/frowning when recalling the different lives I led), I found Livvy Kane to be my girl crush this year. I did a mini-review on this book (here) but I actually have a whole essay worth for this book. I posted that one on Goodreads. This is one of the first books I read by Alisha Rai and I loved it. The book is full of longing and Rai knows how to wring the emotions from her readers. One of the reasons I enjoyed the book was due to Livvy Kane. She is super hot (I needed to get that out there), but it was her vulnerability that really got to me. She is still in love with the boy who broke her heart, and she can’t seem to move forward because he was there in every part of her life until he ended things. Her longing broke my heart. I really wanted her to have a happy ending.

The Marriage Effect (2019)
by Karla Sorensen
Publication: June 12, 2019
Series: Washington Wolves #3
Goodreads Summary

I’m a bit ashamed of what happened to me with this book. This was a first for me. Logan Ward is this great guy who sets aside his own desires to take care of his sisters. He finds himself in a marriage of convenience to Paige McKinney to show stability so he can keep custody of his sisters. That’s how much he loves them! He was one of my first romance novel crushes, and (here comes the embarrassing part) I was jealous of Paige. I didn’t think she really deserved him. Normally, I love my leading ladies and root for them, but it felt like she was only excited at the prospect of sleeping with him. What about the rest of him? He was this wonderful guy and she only had sex on her mind. (And, he needed to be with me…hahaha). I loved him so much. (Paige did grow on me in the spinoff the Ward Sister series about the four sisters, so I guess I’m alright about Logan’s other half even though it should have been me. LOL)

Heir of Fire (2014)
by Sarah J. Maas
ASIN: 9781619630659
Publication: September 2, 2014
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Goodreads Summary

Rowan is loyal to a fault and yet love makes him defy the laws binding him and the gods who can so easily crush him. I loved how much he loved Aelin. He aggravated me a lot when I first met him but quickly grew on me because he loved her completely: her past, her present, her scars, her fears. Just…everything. (Sigh…) Despite their official titles, I felt they were equals in the relationship. Rowan was completely swoon worthy. Rowan currently graces my phone screen. My nieces (6 yo and 4yo) think it’s completely scandalous of me, but they sure do like asking for my phone so they can look at him.

Who did you have a book crush on this year? Was there someone that made your heart swoon?

Here are links to a few covers I like:
Bowling for Soup
Michael Buble
Cee Lo Green
Lady Antebellum

Carpool Karaoke!! CLICK!

Marilia, the Warlord (2020)

by Morgan Cole
ISBN: 9781676935117
Publication: February 29, 2020
Series: Chrysathamere Trilogy #1

**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Marilia, the Warlord is an amazing novel with a complex heroine who isn’t prone to being the nicest person or the most humble.  Readers of fantasy who are used to the chosen one trope with a likeable character who is nearly infallible might be turned off by Marilia.  She may often act rashly; she is flawed and more human than touched by the gods. She has a brilliant mind, one with a penchant for strategy and warfare but societal and gender norms prevent her from pursuing anything more than a domestic life. Sibling rivalry pits her against her brother Annuweth, who is being trained in all the things she would rather be doing. Jealousy and the belief she could be much better than him if only given the same opportunities creates a strain between the siblings who once believed it was the both of them against the world. 

Morgan Cole created a world that is richly detailed with complex characters. Cole excels in world building and the introduction to it was engaging. We get a glimpse of what Marilia’s life was supposed to have been before destiny takes a hand and pushes her elsewhere. The strategy and battle scenes are also very well-written. The middle is not nearly as exciting as the beginning and the end. It’s not Cole’s writing so much as this is the Marilia growing up part, where she has to deal with societal norms and grapple with feelings that she is unsure about whereas the beginning and the end are just more…exciting.

The book was tortuous! I’m used to the nice chosen one trope and so had a love-hate relationship with Marilia as soon as the sibling rivalry began. I hated that it only became more pronounced. She was brilliant and hardly humble about her skills.  It frustrated me, and I desperately wanted her to make up with Annuweth. I wanted her to look beyond herself and also recognize that her brother could provide her with the insight she didn’t have but I also recognized that had all that happened, it wouldn’t have been the same book.

Passing over Marilia, the Warlord may be a rash decision on the reader’s part because this will mean missing out on a well-written novel about the rise of a woman who changed the fate society kept pushing onto her.  Marilia, the Warlord is an amazing read, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages, no matter the pain it inflicted on me. I’m a bit scared to start the next book, especially with the last book coming out soon (I think), because I don’t know how much I’ll still like Marilia after the trilogy ends.

Christmas Playlist 2020: Cozy Little Christmas

Track 03: Katy Perry – Cozy Little Christmas

This is a cute pop song released by Katy Perry in 2018. It still feels recent but then typing the year nearly gave me whiplash. Two years passed by fairly quickly! The song is all about spending Christmas with the person you love, so this post is all about my favorite OTPs.

“You’re the only one I’m wishing for
Our love is something priceless…”


Aelin Galanthynius & Rowan Whitethorn
Series: Throne of Glass (2013)
” ‘I love you. There is no limit to what I can give to you, no time I need. Even when this is world is a forgotten whisper of dust between stars, I will love you.’ ” — Rowan

Aelin and Rowan from the Throne of Glass series was one of my top OTPs this year. If you haven’t read the series yet and you plan to, this is somewhat spoilery. You might want to stop here…

The series broke my heart a lot before Aelin finally found her one, and nearly as much after. Rowan made his first appearance in Heir of Fire (2014). I didn’t know what to think of Rowan because I was hung up on Chaol. (I still haven’t touched Tower of Dawn. I don’t care what anyone says. I’m still bitter over him because I liked him and then he hurt me–er, Aelin–really bad). Ultimately, Rowan and Aelin were perfect for each other because Rowan accepted her just as she was rather than expecting her to change. (I mean, there’s a lot that goes on in Heir of Fire where Rowan is like, “you need to change!” but that’s a whole different story.) They loved each other and their love gave me a book coma long after I finished the series. (Nevermind that I would have liked Aelin to have a harem instead and just have Rowan be her first among equals. HAHAHA!! I also shipped her with Fenrys. More on that another time.)

Beatrix Harper & Peter Blackwell
Series: Clandestine Magic (2020)
” ‘I know you inside and out,’ he said, ‘and I will never stop loving you.'” –Peter Blackwell

I gushed about Beatrix and Peter in my review of the series (Subversive, Radical, and Revolutionary). Beatrix and Peter were sinfully complicated. They were entangled in a relationship where their feelings where magnified but it was difficult to discern whether their feelings were truly their own. To be together, they needed to overcome a lot of obstacles, including themselves.

Arrow & Alex
Book: Arrow to the Soul (No Mercy #2)
Author: Lea Griffith
” ‘I had to taste you again, Mr. Collins, so I could remember that in the midst of death, there might be a reason to live.’ ” — Arrow

Arrow is a trained assassin trying to kill her maker and Alex is the ex-soldier charged with bring her in. They’re inexplicably drawn to each other. She’s never known love and he’s already given his heart to someone else. Does this not pull at your heartstrings yet? This is an enemies-to-lovers novel with a kickass heroine who holds her cards close and loves completely when she does so. Lea Griffith’s writing blew me away. I ached for Arrow because she went into this (sort of/sort of not) relationship knowing Alex loved someone else. It hit all the right marks for me. Let’s leave it at that for right now while I try to finish the other books in the series. They’re standalone but connected and I really need Bone Deep to come out soon.

Who were your favorite pairings this year? Which individuals were you rooting for?

I could post some covers of “Cozy Little Christmas” from YouTube but I wanted to share links to covers of my two favorite Katy Perry songs instead. Of course, they had to be about losing the one you love as opposed to spending it together. (Sorry.)

David Choi’s cover of “Thinking of You”
Tiffany Alvord & Chester See’s cover of “The One That Got Away”