Best and Worst Books of 2020!
Worst “Straight on Till Morning,” by Liz Braswell is a twisted tale of Peter Pan. In this novel the plot is: “What if Wendy met Captain Hook before she met Peter Pan?” I reviewed this on a list of duds previously. The plot sounded great on paper but it was executed poorly. With The Twisted Tale Series the books are hit or miss so when it’s a hit its great, when it’s a miss its terrible. Wendy makes some questionable choices that make her dumb and selfish. Wendy had dreams about Neverland so she knew Hook wasn’t the best character to be around yet she gave him Peter’s shadow. I understand that she didn’t want to be shipped off to Ireland to be a governess but the Wendy most of us know wouldn’t sell Peter Pan out the way she did. 60 pages in one of the pirates attempted to rape Wendy till Hook shot him revealing that Wendy’s purpose is to be their mother/slave. It was also hard to follow and the story wasn’t going anywhere. After a while I closed the book after thinking, “This is boring!” I had no regrets since then. I do my best to finish every book I read but there are some books so bad I either don’t finish reading it or I end up skipping to the end.
Best “Next Year in Havana,” by Chanel Cleeton has duel timelines from 1959 to 2017. It is from the point of views of Elisa Perez and her granddaughter Marisol Fererra. I read this book during the summer. I knew I would like it, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The characters are likeable and the descriptions are beautiful that it feels that you are in the Cuba of the past before Fidel took over and the present. I enjoyed Marisol and Luiz’s love story. There was also a huge twist that shocks everyone. I did feel that Elisa and Pablo’s relationship wasn’t believable, they didn’t have much in common and their differences would make things hard for them if they married. I give Pablo credit he wants to make Cuba better, what he unfortunately didn’t realize is he was trading in one dictator for another. Pablo also had such a disdain for the rich that it made me wonder how the heck he fell in love with Elisa to begin with? I still like Pablo despite all his flaws the same goes for Marisol. Marisol is loves adventure and wants to get in touch with her roots, she is a bit naïve despite her great aunts warnings that just because Fidel Castro is gone, it doesn’t mean Cuba has changed. I couldn’t get into two of Chanel’s other books but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the author.
“The Whisper Man,” by Alex North was on my immediate To Be Read List because of the fact that I’m a sucker for anything in the mystery genre. Tom Kennedy and his son Jake move to the town of Featherbank, England for a fresh start after Tom’s wife and Jakes mother die. Unfortunately Featherbank has a dark past. Two decades prior a serial killer known as The Whisper Man murdered 5 boys. His name was Frank Carter and he vanishes and there’s a murderer copying Frank Carter’s Whisper Man persona. Detectives Pete Willis and Amanda Beck must find this new killer especially before Jake becomes next… There were things about it that were good I enjoyed the setting and I did like Jake. I like the fact that Jake could see ghosts and is psychic and not just having imaginary friends. What made this book awful though is it took forever for the story to get anywhere. I eventually read the rest of the book online and who the copycat killer is was a cop out for me and the ending was corny as well. Unfortunately I was disappointed. I will give his other book “The Whispers,” a chance and hope Alex North did a better job with that book.
Best “The Guest List,” by Lucy Foley was a mystery that took place during a wedding on an island off the Irish Coast. I enjoyed “The Guest List,” more than I liked “The Hunting Party.” Of course not everyone on that island is who they seem. There were more likeable characters this time around and four of the characters (other than Jules the bride) have some sort of connection to Will, who is the groom in this story. There weren’t too many flaws in the story. I will warn you there are dark themes in the story and if you or someone you know is sensitive to these themes I wouldn’t recommend it. One of the male characters is an arse and uploads racy videos to pornhub as a way of revenge. A character has an abortion after not hearing from the man that had gotten her pregnant. One male character I felt sorry for because he felt guilty for something he played a part in and the ending for him was unfair in my opinion. Each time I thought I knew who was murdered and who was the murderer, all my theories were thrown a curveball. I like that “The Guest List,” I wasn’t able to figure out who the killer was where as “The Hunting Party,” was a bit predictable.
Worst “The Accidental Empress,” by Alison Pataki is about Elizabeth “Sisi” of Austria. One other book I read about Sisi was in The Royal Diaries Series when I was a teenager. I honestly haven’t been impressed with Alison Pataki’s books. I couldn’t get into the book about Peggy Shippen and her maid. Queens Fortune about Desiree Clary is was a chore to read. I thought I would enjoy her book about Sisi but I did not. The writing was written like it was written for modern times. I’m thinking, “Okay this isn’t how people back then spoke.” The writing also seemed like it was aiming for the young adult crowd. I read the authors note where she basically fictionalizes a lot. I understand she isn’t writing a biography and with historical fiction you have to create things to fill in the blanks, but this was beyond far fetched. I did not bother reading the sequel, “Sisi an Empress On Her Own.”
Best “The Book of Lost Names,” by Kristin Harmel was excellent! Its based on true events about people forging names to smuggle Jewish children out of France into Switzerland during World War II. The characters are wonderful. My favorites are Eva the main female character, whose brave and strong despite her fears and insecurities, and Pere Clement my favorite Catholic Priest whose someone you’d want to confide in whether its in peaceful times or in times of war. If Pere Clement was real, he’d be my go to guy. Eva’s mother was the only annoying character and I explained why in my full review of the book.
Dishonorable Mention “Anne Boleyn a Kings Obsession,” by Alison Weir was one of her duds. I know I’ve been praising a lot of her work but she has had her duds. The book started off great, but it took a while for anything to happen and it seemed like the book was trying to put modern day feminism into a time period where it wasn’t accepted. While I do think Anne Boleyn wanted to become a queen and her father basically pimped out both her and her sister Mary, I do believe she had some love for Henry. We may not know what happened behind closed doors, but this book was very far-fetched. After a while of being so bored I closed the book for good.
Honorable Mention “Katherine of Aaragon The True Queen,” by Alison Weir was pretty good. I don’t qualify it to be the best book of Alison Weir’s but it definitely wasn’t the worst. I like the fact that it was more historically accurate to history. It wasn’t like the Spanish Princess trying to portray Katherine as sleeping with Arthur and lying about it, and this one didn’t have her going to battle while she was pregnant thank goodness. The ending of Katherine’s story was sweet.
Dishonorable Mention “Poisoned,” by Jennifer Donnelly was a Snow White retelling. Something about the book turned me off. It was a bit weird how a clockwork heart was put into Snow after her real one was taken out. The Evil Queen constantly made everything about sexism which made me role my eyes. We get it, show it not tell it!
Honorable Mention “Conceal Don’t Feel,” by Jen Calonita is her Frozen Twisted Tale. This time Elsa and Anna were separated at birth. I actually enjoyed this book better than the movie. The reunion was sweet. I like the fact that instead of Anna being engaged to Hans, it was Elsa that was engaged but she knew that there was something about him that she couldn’t quite trust.