Best Books of 2020

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration!

I set a Goodreads reading goal at 100 books! I got close to making it happen at 86 books — and I’m happy with the high number I achieved. With all the bad news and unexpectedness of 2020, I have found books and the online bookish community to be a bright, positive spot in many ways. I hope you have, too.

I’ve included 20 books, 2-3 per genre, in my BEST list this year! If you’d like to see all of the books I read and read more extensive reviews, check out my 2020 Goodreads year in books or browse my blog archives.

THE (self-imposed) RULES: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my blog review (if applicable). At the end, I’ll be sharing popular posts on the blog this year.

All titles are inspirational fiction unless noted with *.

Best Books of 2020

Novellas

Fair as a Star by Mimi Matthews* | Review

Sweet romance. Compassion. Hope.

A Pressing Engagement by Anna Lee Huber*

Long-awaited event. Earl Gray the cat. Charismatic criminals.

Christmas in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan | Review

Belonging. Vulnerability. Vienna & the Tyrolean countryside.

Split Time

Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes | Review

LIGHT. Longing. Hope.

Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright | Review

Puzzling mystery. Devotion. Collin O’Shaughnessy.

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes | Review

Sacrifice. Beauty in the commonplace and extraordinary. Poignant.

Contemporary

The Solid Grounds Coffee Co. by Carla Laureano | Review

Honesty. Complexity. Friendship.

Now and Then and Always by Melissa Tagg | Review

Winsome. Humorous. Faith.

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck | Review

Redemption. Relationships. Enchanting concept.

Romantic Comedy

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson | Review

Frenemies-to-romance. Farm animals. Rivalry.

Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner | Review

Wit. FOOD. Healing.

Close to You by Kara Isaac

Adventure. Unexpected love. Hobbits.

Thriller & Suspense

The Wind Will Howl by Sibella Giorello

Immersive setting. Classic-feel mystery. Smart.

Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig | Review

Twists. Revelations. Banter.

Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal | Review

High-tech action. Suspense. Purpose.

Historical

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan | Review

Reconciliation. Friendship. Selflessness.

An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

Lyrical prose. Strength on the frontier. Riveting romance.

Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews*

Daring adventure. Truth. Swoony romance.

Nonfiction

Special mention to a couple of nonfiction titles I enjoyed: Dream, Plan, and Go by Rachel McMillan, an inspirational travel memoir and guide; Everything Beautiful In Its Time by Jenna Bush Hager, a family-centric memoir of love and grief.

Popular #OnTheBlog in 2020

Most popular posts:

Most popular new book reviews:

That’s it for 2020! Happy new year to you all. As always, thank you for being a blog reader and part of this bookish community.

What are your favorite books you read this year? Do we share any favorites? Did you post a list of favorites on your blog or social media? I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few days to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives. Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog

The rules: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review.

Today I’m featuring some general market historical fiction I read and LOVED, including a classic! Funny thing: I just realized all but the classic on this list are mostly or partly set in the UK! Must be my inner Anglophile showing up. Annnd, I see that I can call this the list author Rachel McMillan recommended to me 😉

Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood | Review

Grace. Unconditional love. Romance.

The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber | Review

Cleverly complex. Atmospheric. Courage.

A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews | Review

Adventure. Resilience. Friendship.

The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews | Review

The dogs! Security. Marriage of convenience ❤ .

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

The cabin. Barney Snaith. Sneezing.

Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind by Carla Kelly | Review

Family secrets. Wisdom. Forgiveness.

Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few days to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives. Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog

The rules: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review.

Today is all about contemporary fiction! On my list you’ll find light hearted contemporary romance, women’s fiction, a thriller, and a bit of a mystery, and some more serious drama.

Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction

A Match for Emma by Pepper Basham | Review

Friendship. Trust. Appalachian humor.

After the Rain by Brandy Bruce | Review

Growing. Emotional complexity. Unconditional love.

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig | Review

Adrenaline. Brotherhood. Globe-trotting spy stuff.

Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano | Review

Heart-friendship. Foodie environment. Hope.

The Waves by Amy Matayo | Review

Romantic chemistry. Sarcasm. Contrast of hope and loss.

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim | Review

Surrender. Emotional twists. Compelling retelling of Ruth.

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay | Review

Story for booknerds. Faith. Magnetic romance.

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner | Review

Resonating candor. Authentic faith. Classic movies.

Sweet On You by Becky Wade | Review

Sweet – the chocolate & romance. Mystery to solve. Wonderful family dynamics.

Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh | Review

Rekindled love. Small town charm. The “whys”.

Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! That makes me happy. I have read SO MANY good books this year, which I will attribute to knowing how to better choose my genres and preferences, and even being “picky” when it comes to review-book choices. So, I have decided to limit my best-of lists this year to a max of 10 books. If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives.
Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog

The rules: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review.

Today’s post is all about Novellas + Audiobooks! The audios are all 5 star reads I’m considering “bonuses” on my lists because I listened to their fabulous audio productions AND loved the stories!

Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks

From The Christmas Heirloom novella collection:

Because of You by Becky Wade | Review

Booknerd hero. Friendship. Serving

Gift of the Heart by Karen Witemeyer | Review

Second chances. Humor. Tender hearts.

The Royally Yours Novella Collection | Review to come!

Literary love notes. Small town charming traditions. Whimsy.

From the Finding Ever After novella collection:

Between Stairs and Stardust by Pepper Basham

Whimsical. Cinderella. Swimming.

Entanglements by Rachel McMillan

Hairpins. Chess. Music.


Something New by Joanne Bischof |Review

Dreams. Restoration. Hope.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright | Review to come!

Identity. Forgiveness. Worth beyond the surface.

The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews (reread)| Review

Trust. Delicious accents. Capacity to love.

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green | Review

Sacrifice. Healing. Purpose.

Welcome to Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne | Review

Hope. Sisterhood-friendship. Sacrifical love.

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

I have seen this fun mid-year tag on a few blogs, most recently on my friend Kara’s. Even though the year is more than half over (gasp!), these are fun prompts so I’m weighing in! If you’d like to participate, consider yourself tagged!

Best Book You’ve Read

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim is one of my top reads of the year. It’s fresh and riveting and oh-so-original.

Best Sequel You’ve Read

Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan. I had to pick Hamish and Reggie’s ongoing adventures!

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett. SOON, I tell you! I have loved the other two books (and featured national parks).

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of 2019

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden, coming September 3. That COVER, y’all! Plus it’s a Camden novel, so I know it will be good!

Biggest Disappointment

I cringe to say any book is a disappointment. I like to think of books I don’t like as much as “object lessons for why Courtney does or does not like _______”. I have to go with Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter. Not my favorite from her, it just was too trope-ish. (The second book in the series, though, is a fav!)

Biggest Surprise

After the Rain by Brandy Bruce. I didn’t think I’d like the heroine of this one because she was the slightly-unliked, nemesis character to the heroine of book 1. But oh my, this story drives home the point that everyone is the hero of his or her own story.

Favorite New to You or Debut Author

Jaime Jo Wright (The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond) I listened to the audio version and I LOVED IT!

Newest Fictional Crush

Captain Arthur Heywood from The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews. An honorable gentleman who knows how to handle just about any situation.

Newest Favorite Character

Maddie from The Printed Letter Bookshop. She’s relatably flawed and trying hard, just like the rest of us.

Book That Made You Cry

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood. Read it and you’ll know why.

Book(s) That Made You Happy

I couldn’t pick just one for this! Wooing Cadie McCaffrey made me happy because of all its pop culture rom-com love. Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano made me happy because BAKING and BOOKS and a #girlpower friendship group.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

Hopefully Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I hope to read it before I see the movie!

Favorite Post You’ve Done This Year

My list of book quotes ABOUT books.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Books You Need To Read by the End of the Year

all of them?? My TBR is more like an island now. A few I want to read soon are: Tate by Susan May Warren, A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson, The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews, Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh, The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson, and Bethlehem by Karen Kelly.

Best of 2018: Historical Books

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! I’m changing it up a bit and separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. All of this is to celebrate their distinction and spend a few more days talking about all the wonderful entertainment of 2018.

Day 1. Best of 2018: Novellas

Day 2. Best of 2018: Historical Books

Day 3. Best of 2018: Contemporary Books

Day 4. Goodbye 2018 & Looking Ahead

Today is all about HISTORICAL BOOKS. While I dearly love historical fiction, I have read less of it this year. At any rate, these are the favorites from my list!

The rules: sometimes I have to make boundaries for myself when it comes to talking about books because we would all be here a long time if were able to ramble on. SO, I’m sticking to my format of last year and choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review. In no particular order…

Best of 2018: Historical Books

Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan | Review

Jazz. Grace. Friendship

Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood | Review

Suffrage. Romance. Purpose.

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof | Review

Brotherhood. Atmospheric. Poignant.

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz | Review

Liberty. Honor. Love.

The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews | Review

Arrangements. Mystery. Forgiveness

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack | Review

Worth. Growth. Kindness.

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge by Pepper Basham | Review coming in January!

Family. Tenderness. Hope.

Your turn! What were your favorite historical reads of 2018? Have you read any of these?