2020 has been a year full of surprises, most them them, not great. You would think, nothing would surprise me at this point. But, still some books managed to surprise me. My favorite books are the ones that I have no expectations for that BLOW ME AWAY. I love going into a story and hitting that moment where you just think to yourself, “Yeah. I like this.”
So here are some books that for one reason for another surprised me. Some years I divide them into good & bad surprises, but since all but one were positive surprises, I just got rid of the one negative. 2020 has already had enough negativity.
Historical Romances! I am listing a whole genre here because I honestly thought I wasn’t a fan of this subcategory of romances. Turns out I was wrong. Some of my faves have been An Extraordinary Union, Brazen & the Beast, Her Night with the Duke. I also did a set of mini reviews on historical romances here.
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
I read this for my YA fiction class on a whim (thanks Bree for sharing her ARC with me) and adored it. I had never read anything by Jackson prior to this and now everything she writes goes onto my TBR. I adored our three narrators & thought they all had such unique voices.
The 57 BusBy Dashka Slater
This book wins the award for the book that surprised me the MOST this year. I wrote a full review about it here, but I essentially only picked this one up since I had to read YA books that won awards for class. I didn’t even know this was nonfiction when I picked it up. I keep saying this book blew me away, but I honestly don’t know how else to describe what I felt while reading this.
Catch & Kill by Ronan Farrow
I knew nothing about this book, aside from the obvious, but I picked it up from my library and read it in three days. Which for me and nonfiction is pretty impressive. This changed how I think of powerful men who have money (not that it was positive before) and truly made me realize how much can be hid from the public. It also makes me think about what else we don’t know.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
This novel in verse is phenomenal. See all the stickers on the cover. If you have not read Jason Reynolds you have to fix that, and this is a good place to start. It follows a boy who has a an elevator ride to decide if he is going to avenge his brother’s death. There is also a graphic novel which I’m so excited to read.
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
I knew nothing of this book (literally), but picked it up because I needed a fantasy book for my YA class and my library had an ebook copy (this was during pandemic times so thank you to my elibrary for saving my life). The main character of this novel wants to marry the king to kill him and take his thrown. It isn’t the best novel, but it is a fun standalone fantasy that I enjoyed.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
As I said in my review, check it out here, I thought this followed two elderly people which was not a story I was interested in. But, everyone was hyped for it so I requested an eARC. I’m so glad I did because this story was so enjoyable for me. I already reread it this year and it just made me happy to be with these characters and see their journeys. I can’t wait for Henry’s next book.
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Soloman
I am a sucker for enemies to lovers (especially with an academic twist!) so when this popped up on Netgalley I had to request it. Plus one of my Bookstagram friends has been praising RLS for years, so I knew I needed to check her out. I read this in one sitting and then reread it a few months later to write my review, check it out here. But, I adored this novel and was honestly surprised how much I loved it. RLS is now an author that I adore and recommend this one to all YA romance lovers out there.
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Another book I read for my YA fiction class. I don’t exactly remember what I knew about this novel prior to my reading it, but I was curious to pick up more diverse YA contemporary. I completely fell into this novel. I loved Simone so much. Her friends, family, and love interest are all fab as well. I also appreciate that this YA novel shows what it is like to live with HIV in the 20th century and is so sex positive. See my full review here.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
I was apprehensive to pick this one up. I had heard plenty of mixed things. I think I put a poll up on bookstagram and it was 50-50 on if people enjoyed this one. I am not sure if I liked this book, the characters are messy and not good people. But, this book gripped me and I could not stop thinking about this novel. Rooney was able to put into words some of my anxieties and thoughts so beautifully. I also, lovedddd the show. I did share some of my thoughts on bookstagram here if you want more of my thoughts.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
I read this for one of the book clubs that I joined in 2020 and we had a great discussion on this one. Again, another book where the characters are not the best people, but I loved reading about their motivations and seeing them make mistakes. I kept underlining passages of this book and am in awe of Tayari Jone’s writing. I reviewed this one on bookstagram here. I cannot wait to read more from her.
The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan
Look this cover made me think that this book was something completely different. But, this romance goes into some serious political and racial issues and has an amazing romance that spans years. It ends on a serious cliffhanger which was not my favorite and book two was a little annoying. But, either way, I need to read more from Kennedy Ryan because wow this one was so good.
Teach Me by Olivia Dade
I did not know anything Olivia Dade until I saw some buzz for her most recent book Spoiler Alert (see our joint review here) on Twitter. I was able to get a copy of Teach Me from my library and it was just the cutest thing. The characters are in their 40’s and stable and this novel is just a love letter to teachers. It also is pretty steamy, but this one definitely made me more excited to read Spoiler Alert which was amazing too.
The Marriage Effect (Washington Wolves #3) by Karla Sorenson
Look I hate judging books by their covers, but some romance novels have the worst covers!!! But I saw someone on Twitter recommend this one and since it was a Kindle Unlimited title was like “might as well” and then I read it in one sitting and teared up twice while reading it. Took my completely by surprise and now this author is definitely on my radar.
Where you taken by surprise by any books this year?