Adunni is a young girl living in poverty in a Nigerian village. She loves school and knows that learning all she can is the key to achieving a better life. Despite promising to allow Adunni's schooling to continue after her mother's death, Adunni's father makes a decision that ends her education in the village and changes the trajectory of her life.
You'll be moved to both tears and cheers as Adunni endures and overcomes heartbreaking challenges while keeping her focus on her dream of an education.
We would both give this one more than 5 stars if we could, and really hope that Abi Daré writes a sequel so we can see the next phase in Adunni's life.
Writers & Lovers is a classic coming of age struggle of an in-debt 20-something working as a waitress to pay the bills while trying not to give up her bigger dream of writing a novel. We thought it was the perfect mix of literary fiction and reality TV as the book follows the main character through every aspect of her daily life.
After reading so many reviews from people that found this book boring, we went in skeptical but fell in love.
We both love all of Fredrik Backman's books, and Anxious People - with it's quirky characters and witty prose is no exception. Backman has such a knack for writing in a way that is both entertaining, but also gets right to the heart of the matter!
Anxious People is about a failed bank robber that stumbles in to an apartment open house and inadvertently holds hostage a group of strangers. The eclectic group of captives may just be the worst hostages in the world, and none of them are quite who they appear to be. Throughout the ordeal, they divulge secrets, form allegiances, and set into motion a chain of events so unexpected that, when questioned by the police, they can hardly explain what happens next.
Oh my goodness. While you may think the Jessica Simpson memoir is a bit juicy, it has nothing on Anne Glenconner, who served as a friend and official Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret.
The book covers her full life to date, from teenage years through her late 80s. While Princess Margaret is involved in some of the stories, the book is not directly focused on the royal family. Instead, it's all about Anne's unbelievable life.
Her husband, Colin, was...eccentric to put it mildly. He took her into situations that will make your jaw drop over and over. Although even when not with Colin, she gets herself into some very interesting circumstances.
This is another great listen as Anne Glenconner narrates and her proper British voice adds magic to the unbelievable stories.
WARNING: Don't listen with your kiddos around. Some of the stories go from innocent to risque with no warning.
When night-shift worker Leon needs some extra cash to help a family member, he decides to get a roommate.
The problem is that he has a one-bedroom apartment, with one bed. So he places an ad for someone to sleep in his bed while he's at work. They'll never be home at the same time, but it's still a crazy plan.
Thankfully, it's just the solution newly-single Tiffy needs.
Several of their post-it note conversations back and forth made us laugh out loud. There's also a mix of humor and more serious topics if you're looking for a rom com with substance.
If you would have told us last year that we would put a Jessica Simpson memoir on a best of the year list, we would have scoffed.
But it's good. Really good.
Open Book is full of heartfelt human self-examination with sides of juicy celeb gossip and humor. It's a true tell-all, and Jessica is bold enough to address the mistakes she has made, along with the mistakes of others when they directly impacted her.
She somehow found the perfect balance and speaking the reality of situations without bashing or only telling the negative. For example, she talks about the problems in her relationship with Nick Lachey leading to their divorce but also talks about why she loved him. It's a true tell-all, but each story has a purpose and depth.
We highly recommend listening to the audio version as Jessica narrates it herself. Hearing her voice break at times adds more emotion than you would get from reading, although she's a talented writer and we're sure the paper version is still great.
This is our pick for favorite beach read of 2020. The book is based on the movie Same Time Next Year in which a couple decides that no matter what is happening in their lives, they'll meet back at the beach on the same days each year.
As the title suggests, the book spans 28 years of these secret meetings, one chapter per year. You'll see the characters go from college through career and through love and loss. It's a true page-turner as you can't wait to see what has happened in life between the meetings year after year.
This story centers on light-skinned Black twins who take very divergent paths in life after leaving their small town. One marries a man with very dark skin and has a dark-skinned daughter, while the other decides to hide her heritage and live as a white woman and has a white daughter.
While that sets up the initial premise of the book, it was more about identity issues well-beyond skin color. Brit Bennett has a gift for words and is able to boil down significant moments/concepts within this book into single poignant, powerful sentences sprinkled throughout. Each character has their own complicated relationship with their identity, and it was really interesting to see how those feelings about themselves impacted everything in their lives.
Melissa didn't feel fully engaged in the story until the 2nd section, but once she was in, she didn't want to put it down.
This historical fiction follows the life of Maud Baum, wife to the author of Wizard of Oz.
She was raised by a suffragette mother in the late 1800s, attended college when it was rare for girls to be educated, and then met Frank. He was a big dreamer in a time when creativity was not praised as a career path.
Their life was fascinating, even before he wrote Wizard of Oz. Finding Dorothy switches between Maud's earlier years and her quest at age 77 to make sure the Wizard of Oz movie stayed true to the book. She becomes determined to protect the actress playing Dorothy, Judy Garland.
This is a 5 star read whether or not you are a big fan of the Wizard of Oz, it's very much Maud's story and stands alone.
Are you a fan of The Bachelorette? If so, this may be a fun 5 star read for you too.
Bea is a plus-sized fashion blogger tired of watching casts full of size 0 models. After a drunken post about the un-realness of the reality dating show Main Squeeze, she gets a shocking call asking HER to be the next star of the show.
Can she trust the male contestants with her heart or is it safer to remember she's on the show largely for her career?
As the season progresses throughout the book, you'll forget about the real-life craziness of 2020 and root for Bea to find love.
We enjoyed that the story varies between the actual narrative/ standard book format and snippets of podcast dialog, emails, etc ABOUT the show as fans watched. All the aspects came together and serve as a great way to help your brain fully engage in the story.
Melissa was concerned going into this book based on other reviews stating there were too many disconnected characters. She didn't find that at all and thought the author made all the proper connections between them. However, it is a book you have to be paying full attention to in order to catch everything.
That said, she really enjoyed each woman's story and loved how they intertwined. While some thought it was depressing, Melissa found it to be a story of survival in terrible circumstances and how we often have to rely on each other. Each character was saved by others in different ways. It's a heavy read, but worth it.
Twelve-year-old Edward boards a plane with his beloved older brother and his parents, bound for their new home and life in California, but when the plane tragically crashes, Edward emerges as the sole survivor. After recovering from is injuries, he goes to live with his mom's sister and her husband with the eyes of the world on him and everyone eager to hear his story.
His aunt and uncle work hard to shield him from all the attention and to allow him time to process his loss, but when Edward uncovers a stack of letters, he discovers an unexpected path to healing.
The chapters in the book alternate between Edward's current day, and a minute by minute recounting of the ill-fated flight, through which we are introduced to many of the other passengers.
After Lydia's finance, Freddy, dies in a car crash on the way to her 28th birthday dinner, she wants nothing more than to be alone with her grief. But soon she discovers that she's not alone after all - in fact, she wakes up in bed next to Freddy alive and well, but she then she wakes up again and he's gone. In this alternative reality, her life with Freddy continues to move forward toward their impending wedding.
As Lydia leads these two parallel lives, a new relationship causes her to question where she really belongs. Weaving together grief, humor, and heart, this book will give you all the feels.
Looking for something suspenseful but not too scary? The Last Flight follows two women trying to escape their own lives. When they meet at the airport, they decide to swap identities and truly leave their own old lives behind.
Things don't go quite as expected when one of the planes crash, which means the surviving woman is the only one who knows about their arrangement.
The twists and turns will keep you guessing until the end, and you won't want to put this book down until the final page!
Alix Chamberlain has built a career she loves helping other women, but to have it all, she needs a little help of her own. She hires Emira, a young Black woman to babysit her toddler daughter several times a week, and the two adore each other. When Emira takes the young girl to the grocery store in Alix's wealthy, white neighborhood and is accused of kidnapping, Alix is determined to make things right, whether Emira wants her to or not.
These books are all excellent and worth reading as well.
Nothing to See Here – by Kevin Wilson – We were both very skeptical about the premise of this book, but it’s an excellent and worthwhile read! Madison’s twin step-kids are moving in and she asks Lillian – her former boarding school roommate – to move in and become their caretaker. But there is a catch: both kids spontaneously burst into flames when they are agitated. Lillian has nothing to lose, so she agrees to take on the role, and over the course of a summer, she and the kids learn together how to keep their cool – literally.
Boyfriend Project – by Farrah Rochon – When three women realize they all think they’re exclusively dating the same man, they become friends instead of enemies and decide that they should spend time reaching their own goals instead of trying to find a husband. Which is going great until a hot new guy appears at Samaih’s job. But is he be who he says he is?
Oona Out of Order – by Margarita Montimor – The night before Oona’s 19th birthday, on New Years’ Eve 1982, she’s struggling with a big decision. Should she go all-inn on her commitment to her band and boyfriend, or follow-through with a long-time plan to study economics in London with her best friend?
Before she can go down either path, she wakes up on New Year’s Day, in the year 2014. Instead of being 19, she’s suddenly 51. She continues to live her life out of order, traveling backward or forward each New Year, but never knowing what age she’ll be when she wakes up.
Eliza Starts a Rumor – by Jane Rosen – A mix of comedy and drama about a group of neighbors overcoming individual struggles when they’re willing to share them and lean on other women.
Boyfriend Material – by Alexis Hall – Looking for a hilarious rom-com reminiscent of The Flatshare? Bitter Luc O’Donnell has excess emotional baggage after growing up in the shadow of a distant B-list celeb father and eccentric mom. When his job at a charity is endangered after incriminating photos of him are posted online, he has to re-make his image from party boy to “the right kind of gay” by coming up with a stable boyfriend. He knows he’s not ready for a real relationship, but could he sustain a fake relationship long enough to get through a fundraiser?
Things You Save In a Fire – by Katherine Center – Cassie is one of the only female firefighters at her Texas firehouse, but she’s welcomed as part of the family and she loves her job. When an unexpected turn of events forces her to uproot her life and move to Boston, Cassie finds that her new firehouse has never had a female firefighter and they are not thrilled to have her join their ranks. Before leaving Texas her former chief gave her a few simple rules for success in a boys-club, but after meeting the newest rookie, she might have trouble with rule number one – don’t date firefighters!
This Won’t End Well– by Camille Pagan – We always enjoy Camille Pagán’s books, and this one did not disappoint. It was a wonderfully fast and enjoyable! Annie’s life isn’t going well – she awful boss just sabotaged her chemistry career and her finance took off for Paris to take a little “break” from their relationship. Annie has decided she’s done with people! But when she sees a glamorous young woman move in next door, her curiosity gets the better of her and she winds up getting sucked into her neighbor’s drama and ends up with not one but two new people in her life.
[…] To make this list, the book had to be published in 2021 and it had to really stand out from the big stack of more than 180 books we’ve read this year. Whether it made us think or helped us escape, each book on the list exceeded whatever expectations we had of it. We hope you’ll pick some of them up to read and love them in the same way. If you’re looking for books more easily available at the library, or just want to see more of our favorites, check our Best Books of 2020 list! […]