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  • Writer's pictureLaurel Anne

Books of 2020: January-June

This year's reading goal is 52 books--on average, I'd like to read one a week.

My goal sometimes sounds a little overwhelming, but I've found I have a lot more time for reading when I turn off social media or Netflix for a while. I also let myself read whatever types of books I want, so I don't have to be 'impressive' and read huge ones all the time! A children's book counts just the same as a 1,000-page epic novel.

Also, a note on how I rate books I read: I rate everything out of 10--an 8 or up means you should totally read it. 7 is "average," 6 and under probably means I won't recommend it or read it again. Il'l rarely rate anything below 5, because that just sounds harsh!

So with that in mind, here are my thoughts on the first 26 books I've read this year...

  1. 1. Maybe a Mermaid by Josephine Cameron

I picked up this book because I thought it was a story about a mermaid at a kid's camp (I mean, that's what the cover led me to believe) and it looked really fun. And it was fun, but not what I expected. Not what I'd hoped. And definitely not as magical as I really wanted it to be. I'm giving it an okay rating because even though I was disappointed, it's still an average read. But, y'know, just average. Overall: 7/10

2. Story's End by Marissa Burt

Wow. This is the sequel to Storybound, which was also phenomenal. So, highly recommend this two-book series! Fantastic storytelling, fun world building, and even a few plot twists I didn't expect. I'm going to buy these books. Middle grade reading level, so not a difficult read but still had a lot of profound things in it. I cried towards the end because it was moving. Go read these books! Overall: 9.5/10

3. Scary Close by Donald Miller

Great book. Don says things like they are, both the good and bad. I loved his writing style; his stories were honest and raw. This book has been on my 'to-read' list for a while and I'm glad I finally got to read it. He points his readers to Christ and shows how he's living his relationship with the Lord out in the world. And how others impact him, bringing him even closer to God! Beautiful read, I recommend it! Overall: 9/10

4. Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs

Obviously, not a 'fun' read. I was researching a topic and wanted to understand what happened. Rachel tells her story well, but it was a hard and terrible story and it was filled with so many evils. Some parts started to get graphic, so I skipped a few scenes. Heavy topic, but I'm amazed by her resilience. Won't read again, and honestly I wouldn't recommend it if you're not an adult. Overall: 5/10

5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

This one's obviously a classic! And it's always such a fun read. I forgot how long Anne's monologues were, though, and they did get a bit tedious after a while. But the writing is good, and it's got a lot of great little stories in it. Whether a kid or an adult, it's an enjoyable read, for sure! Overall: 8/10

6. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I was disappointed. The premise is deep, and interesting, but I personally didn't feel he went about it well. What started full of mystery and moral questions ended up feeling like a story with characters who had no dimension. And at the end, I didn't even care about what happened to them. It had unnecessary raunchy stuff in it too. His writing was good, but I'd rather watch the movie The Island to get a better idea of a storyline like this one. Overall: 5/10

7. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Always love reading the Anne series, as y'all can tell. I forgot how fun this book was until I got back into it! Easy, quick read (like they all are) and so nostalgic. Very different from the movies and series. Full of fun stories and interesting characters. Montgomery is growing on me even more than before! I don't know if I'll read the rest of the series right now, but I sure will later. Overall: 8/10

8. The Bone Sparrow by Zara Fraillon

Okay. This one. I cried and (sorry, library) threw the book across the room at one point. I know. It is an intensely important story about a little boy who lives in a refugee camp. The actual story is fictional, but it's based on reality and it is powerful. The characters are done well, and the story pulls you in right away. Seeing horrors of life from a child's perspective is always so difficult, but it was just so beautifully done. Overall: 9/10

9. The Scar by Michelle Hagood

This one hasn't been released to the world yet, so I actually chose not to rate it! It's the first (I believe, if I remember correctly) draft my friend Michelle wrote. Second book in a companion series she's writing to go along with her original trilogy! The whole book series, when she's done, will be 8 books total. So impressive, right? Super cool concepts, and it's fun to read her books and see how they're coming to life!

10. Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout by Dr. Rick Rigsby

I hoped to enjoy this book more. I think the messages Dr. Rigsby gave were good, but I feel like I've heard the same points from other books who did it better. I enjoyed learning his story, and the story of his father that he tells throughout the book. And I did appreciate the wise things he wrote. It just wasn't my favorite in its genre! If you like non-fiction self help, you'd probably enjoy the book though. Overall: 6.5/10

  1. 11. The Lost Tide Warriors by Catherine Doyle

I've been waiting for this FOR A YEAR. Wow. I didn't know if I'd like it as much as the first one. But it had fantastic characters and dialogue, a story I didn't see coming, and one of the most beautiful "goodbye" scenes I've read in a long time. I cried through an entire chapter. This is why I love young readers books! Some of the most impactful stories wrapped up into a very accessible read. I'm going to buy these books, and I eagerly await the rest of the series! Overall: 9/10

12. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

If you know me at all, you know Sanderson is my favorite author. Hands down. And this is the book that made me fall in love with his writing as a teen. It changed me as a reader, a writer, and a creative. It's his second novel ever, and his writing only gets better. Genre is high fantasy, it's beautifully written with superb characters. His dialogue writing is some of my favorite ever. And he is the KING of unexpected twists. Just wow. Overall: 10/10

13. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Book 2 of the Mistborn trilogy, and here's what's crazy. Sequels are often not as good. BUT THIS ONE IS. It switches gears in a way that keeps your attention. Introduces new characters you come to love, while honoring the ones you loved from the first book. Sets up the third beautifully. Good dialogue, still fantastic world building, and some great plot twists for sure. Overall: 10/10

14. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Finished this trilogy with tears, as I always do. This book gets crazy. The way Brandon creates worlds with such deep cultures is fantastic. He weaves things together so well, and I'd forgotten enough of the finer plot points from the last time I read it that I found myself gasping in surprise all over again. Really good end to the series, and definitely a dramatic one. For it being his first series, it's amazing. His depth of storytelling is impressive. Overall: 10/10

15. Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

I finally bought this book after borrowing it from the library every year for 3 years. I stumbled onto it once upon a time and I'm so glad I did. The story is so easy to get into, characters are well written and honest, and it's historical fiction so I appreciate learning about what happened, and what likely happened, to these people. This book gets crazy. I love it so much! Overall: 9.5/10

16. The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

As the title suggests, if you really want to know who God is, it's a great book. It's wonderful for people who've been walking with Him for a long time, too. It's filled with holy truths, both easy and hard to acknowledge, and is such a good reminder and challenge about who we really think God is. This book draws me to worship our powerful and wonderful God! I underline and highlight each time I read it, and I recommend it to everyone. Overall: 10/10

17. Son by Lois Lowry

The final book in the Giver Quartet. Truly a great series, but I still have questions I don't think she intended to answer. World building is mysterious and so many things about their potential magic system are interesting. But in this type of novel, I love that. The mystery is part of what brings me back to this series again and again. Lois knows a thing or two about people; her books show it. Overall: 9/10

18. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This book was entertaining! It followed a very standard YA storyline, but had some fun twists here and there. Stephanie's writing is engaging and I liked her use of descriptive language, the characters were fun, and I like a book with a bit of a mystery to it. But I didn't like the main character, and some things made me roll my eyes! And though there is a mystery, I'm not sure the author is really cut out as a mystery writer; it wasn't done the best. Overall: 7/10

19. Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Second book in the series, and I like it more than the first! These books are difficult for me to figure out if I really like them or not. Her world building is great, but the execution of the story is not the best. And she's definitely not built as a mystery writer. There were some eye-rolling moments in here, too, and it was predictable. But if you like YA, you'll enjoy these books! Overall: 7.5/10

20. Finale by Stephanie Garber

I really did enjoy this book, I think it's my favorite in the series. The storyline really picked up and there were some fun twists I didn't necessarily see coming. This series overall just made me roll my eyes at teenage romance, but what YA doesn't do that? I think the characters were okay, dialogue wasn't too bad, and the storyline was fun. The world building is what kept me interested, and the author did a good job with that. Not upset I read these! Overall: 7.5/10

  1. 21. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Honestly, such a fabulous book on negotiating. Written by the FBI's former lead hostage negotiator, and he has some pretty crazy stories to share. His writing style is engaging and concise, and I learned so much from him. Whether it's hostage negotiation or a business deal, a "big deal" or something small, his tactics are great. Best non-fiction book I've read for a while, and it was a nice change from all these novels I've read lately! Overall: 9/10

22. A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan

Finally finished book 7! I think I have 7 more to go in this series. Gosh, these books are so long. But I really enjoyed the second half of this one. High epic fantasy series like these are often long and very drawn out, which I love sometimes, but this one started to feel slow so it took me a while to read. Still, I really enjoy this author and I'm even more excited for the last books of the series, which are written by Sanderson (my fave). In general, this series is great so far but definitely a huge commitment. Overall: 8/10

23. The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

I didn't know if I'd enjoy this one as much as previous books in the series; I heard people say books 8 and 9 are boring. But I actually enjoyed it! Hopefully I'll feel the same with book 9. This series builds SO much from each previous book, and I'm completely impressed with the author's abilities. Overall: 8/10

24. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did! I really like Suzanne, but I'm not the biggest fan of adding onto a series years after it's already been finished. But I enjoyed her writing, a lot about the storyline, and the world building. I liked the way she created characters. I didn't like the ending as much, it felt rushed and a little disjointed at first until I was able to reflect on it later. But I did enjoy this book! Overall: 8.5/10

25. Saint George and the Dragon by Geraldine McCaughrean

I'd never heard of this legend before, but I enjoyed reading it through a picture book. Even though I didn't enjoy the illustration style, and I felt the way the story was told was very disjointed. It was not my favorite read, but at least it was short! I think this is supposed to be a children's book, but I would not read this to a child. Oh well. Interesting at least to know the story now! Overall: 6/10

26. Educated by Tara Westover

Okay, this book. Wow. Memoir by a woman who grew up in an end-of-times prepper family, and how she came out of it. Her writing style was jarring at first, but once I got used to it, I loved it. Her tone is beautiful. My jaw dropped and my eyes filled with tears more than once. What a powerful story. I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers because some parts are very intense and there's some strong language, but if you're an adult, read it. Overall: 10/10

And, there you have it! The first 26 books I read in the first half of the year. Have you read any of these books, are there any you want to try out now? Let me know! And while you're at it, give me all your book recommendations--I'm always looking for new things!


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