My Top Picks of Books and Audiobooks for 2020
2020 was obviously a rough year for all of us. I found reading to be so much harder! I couldn’t focus for months, but there were still some amazing books out there, even if I didn’t read as many. I also am gravitating more and more to audiobooks. The ones on this list are shown in the format I read them.
The Guy on the Right (The Underdogs Book 1) by Kate Stewart
“We’re polar opposites. I’m way too country and he’s a whole lot of everything else. We shouldn’t fit, but we do, and our fit is nothing short of spectacular.”
I’m usually not into college-aged romances, but this had everything I love in a book: humor, banter, social media, friendship, great characters, and it just made me feel good. It just had that special something that takes a book from 4.5 stars to 5 for me. Do yourself a favor and grab this one; it’s great whether you read or listen.
Sex and Other Shiny Objects by Lauren Blakely
Narrated by Andi Arndt and Jason Clarke, and special guest star Julia Whelan, with additional voices by Joe Arden and Erin Mallon
“Sometimes womanly strength comes from underthings. From lingerie. I want women to feel beautiful, to be their best selves, to ask for what they want in work, in love, in life. And in bed.”
I’m going to be honest here. If I had to only listen to Lauren’s books, I would actually be OK with that. Sometimes it feels like that’s all I listen to because quite honestly, they’re all so good I wouldn’t miss any if I can help it. With as quick as she releases them, I can almost listen to her full-time. But Sex and Other Shiny Objects sits at the top of an amazing heap. It seems like every book she writes gets better and I can’t wait for One Night Stand-In.
2nd in The Boyfriend Material Series of Standalones
Day One: A Romantic Comedy by Lauren Runow
“You can’t spell virus without U and I.”
What I LOVED about Day One is that it is taking place RIGHT NOW. It was the first book I read that held my interest because it was so easy to relate to all they are going through trying to maintain social distancing. I read the entire story grinning ear to ear and even finished it with happy tears. In fact, I started trying to slow down at the end because I didn’t want it to be over. Day One by Lauren Runow totally broke my reading slump and I look forward to reading more of her books.
Purchase on Amazon
Flirtasaurus by Erin Mallon
Narrated by Erin Mallon
Flirtasuarus was absolutely hilarious. It is very rare that I giggle out loud like that, but I snort-laughed! I had such an awesome time listening to Flirtasaurus that I couldn’t give it less than 5 stars. It’s rare that I do that with books that aren’t perfect, but I just loved it so much. While writing this review, the more I analyzed and picked it apart, the more little things I found that I could get annoyed over, but that is because I basically read the print version while writing this review (and I was laughing again!) but I think I still found it funnier because I heard Erin in my head making it funny. While the audiobook is 5 stars, had I only read it, I think it would have been more like a 3.5-4 because all the dialogue lent itself better to audio. I am so, so excited for Lovebug, the next in the series, about Mabel!
A Guy Walks into My Bar by Lauren Blakely
Narrated by Shane East, Joe Arden, and a full cast.
“Look, I’m going to be blunt. You are pretty much the hottest thing to ever walk into my bar. You’re like one of those memes for a hot guy walking into a bar and all the ladies tossing their knickers at him.”
“I don’t want their panties.”
“Yes, I’m clear on that, Fitz.”
As someone who doesn’t usually gravitate towards m/m books, let me tell you, it didn’t matter. I loved every word of it! There was a LOT of sex in this book, and holy cow it was hot! But that wasn’t what made me love it. It was the connection between the two heroes. It just leaped off the page despite that they were so different, and I couldn’t help but fall in love as they did. I love the world of acceptance that they inhabited where #loveislove and all their friends and family were rooting for them to find it.
Lauren is hands-down my favorite audiobook author (and one of my top 3 authors in general) and with A Guy Walks Into My Bar she just added more love from me. While I don’t want Lauren to completely jump over to m/m, I hope she does more because I loved every word.
Kiss My Putt, Swing and a Mishap, Dashing Through The No (Summersweet Island Books 1, 2 & 3) by Tara Sivec
These can each stand alone!
“The extra length is really helping me get it in the hole.”
“He definitely wants to put his bat in her grassy infield”
“You are hereby prohibited from frosting any more tiny joints in all the Santa cookie mouths.”
Everything I love about Tara’s writing is here in Kiss My Putt. It’s funny, sexy, silly, and hella hot. I have been having a really hard time reading lately but Kiss My Putt by Tara Sivec kept me involved and laughing. The great cast of characters with their snarky banter made this book so much fun and I can’t wait for the next two books. I will tell you now though, I already know that Tess and Bodhi’s book will be my favorite.
I loved Swing and a Mishap SO MUCH. It was just what I needed to forget the world and laugh my ass off. This is up there with my favorite Tara Sivec reads, and that’s saying a lot. If you are looking for a swoony, sweet, romantic, funny, and sexy story with characters you can’t help but love, Tara Sivec took a swing and hit it out of the park with Swing and a Mishap.
I loved Tess and Bodhi, but I must say, getting a heaping serving of Millie was my favorite part of this book! If you haven’t spent the holidays with Tara Sivec yet, get ready for an uproariously fun and sweet ride.
The Grip Series by Kennedy Ryan
Narrated by Jakobi Diem and Maxine Mitchell
“In a culture, in a climate that would push people like us apart, we choose to be together. We fight to be together.”
When I listened to Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan I was blown away. The Grip Trilogy took it even further. Kennedy Ryan has a beautiful, poetic way of writing that brings out every emotion and can educate without feeling like she is doing just that. Grip and Bristol are one of my favorite couples in romance. Their deep conversations were explored and not one word ever felt rushed or superfluous. Don’t worry, if you are looking for heat, it’s certainly here, but only where it worked for the story. I know it took me a few years of having these books to finally read them, but they couldn’t be more relevant than right now. If you have not experienced Kennedy Ryan, change that, and start right here with Flow, then Grip, then Still.
Purchase the Trilogy on Kindle
One to Watch: A Novel by Kate Stayman-London
Narrated by Kristen Sieh
“Everyone wanted so many things from her—to believe in herself and see her own true beauty, but not to be conceited, to know her place. Be more than your looks, but never speak out of turn. Don’t be defined by love, but remember, you’re nothing without it. Be a princess. Find your prince. You don’t need a man to complete you. Stand on your own two feet.”
If you are a fan of The Bachelor franchise or reality shows, One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London is a must-read. If you are plus-sized and have self-confidence issues, it will be so relatable whether you watch reality TV or not. I am sure there will be some reviews that complain that they expected a more confident heroine, but I loved her fear, her flaws and her vulnerability. Sometimes I wanted to reach in and hug her and sometimes throttle her. Mostly I think One To Watch would make for a great Netflix faux reality show. Because there were a few tiny things that didn’t sit well with me, I can’t give the full 5 stars my heart is telling me to, so I will just do 4.75 stars.
Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
Narrated by Tanya Eby and Lauren Ezzo
“I’m confident that I’ll never spend a single second of my life regretting you.”
Colleen Hoover proved again why I have been a fan for 8 years. She is a phenomenal writer who never writes trendy, typical stories. With Colleen you know her books are more of an experience, different from anything that has gone before. She once again proved that with Regretting You.
Perfect Wreckage: The Wrecked Series, Book 2 by Catherine Cowles
Narrated by Joe Arden and Maxine Mitchell
“Life is messy and terrifying, but it is also crazy beautiful. You taught me that. You showed me that my wreckage could be perfect in its own way, that all those little cracks in my soul just made me stronger, more beautiful.”
Both books Reckless Memories and Perfect Wreckage are really on this list, but since I am going strictly by ratings, I am only showing Perfect Wreckage here. Though you don’t need to read in order, I loved them both so much that you might as well.
Perfect Wreckage by Catherine Cowles is a journey. I am so glad it was a little longer than the average audiobook (at over 9 hours) because I absolutely didn’t want it to end. I love how the author gives such a full, rich story with a lot of backstories as well as an exciting tale in the present that makes you not want to stop reading at any point. I devoured Perfect Wreckage by Catherine Cowles. It brought me on a journey of laughter, tears, hope, excitement, fear, and happy sobs—the best kind of journey!
See My Full Review
Dream Maker (Dream Team Book 1) by Kristen Ashley
“She thinks I’m a new Rock Chick,” I told him.
“She’s wrong,” Lottie decreed, snatching the bags out of Mag’s hands. “You’re a Dream Maker.”
Dream Maker brought back everything I love about Kristen Ashley. If you are one of those people who wishes they could experience the Rock Chick or Dream Man series for the first time again, Dream Maker brings it. I read the whole thing with a happy, satisfied smile on my face, teared up at the end, and literally hugged my kindle when it ended. Now I want to go back and read all the old stuff again.
While Dream Maker FELT like a 5 star read to me, it wasn’t perfect, and it kind of felt like a campy reunion show, so I’m going to go with 4.5 Stars (rounded up for other platforms).
Otterly Scorched by Tara Sivec
A Favor for a Favor: All In, Book 2 by Helena Hunting
The What If Guy by Lauren Blakely
Handle With Care by Helena Hunting
Show Time: Juniper Ridge Romantic Comedies, Book 1 by Tawna Fenske
Wild Fire: A Chaos Novella by Kristen Ashley