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December 31, 2020

2020 End of Year Wrap Up

by Donna Huber


Happy New Year's Eve! I don't know about you but some days I wondered if we would ever make it to the end of 2020. One shining light throughout the year though was great books. I think many of us (I know all of us at Girl Who Reads) hit a reading slump early in the pandemic but then we started having record-setting reading months. When we couldn't go out, when we needed a break from the 24/7 news, when we just wanted to escape life for a bit, we turned to books. Sometimes it was a favorite author or series and other times it was to discover new favorite authors and series. I wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the highlights of 2020 and thank the incredible writers that helped us through this very rough year.

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First review of 2020 (click to read MK's review)


Top 10 Most Viewed Posts

We have published 410 reviews, discussions, excerpts, and other posts this year. Here are the 10 most viewed posts this year.

The Last Bathing Beauty
10. Susan's review of The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan. This wonderful new novel is all about the 'what ifs' of life -- the days we all look back on and wonder how our lives would be different if only we had chosen another path.

9. My review of Bound for Murder by Victoria Gilbert. It's a quick, fun cozy mystery featuring a librarian as the sleuth.

8. My review of The new Husband by D.J. Palmer. I love her books. I couldn't put this thriller down and stayed up way too late reading it.

7. My review of A Walk Along the Beach by Debbie Macomber. It has everything that a good beach read should have: interesting characters, a little romance, and a lot of emotions.

6. My January wrap up was pretty popular. It is weird to look back at it as it is pre-pandemic. It was also a very sad month for my beloved dog died in January.

5. MK's review of Emily March's Tucker in the Eternity Springs series. It's a sweet romance that can be read as a stand-alone.

4.  My March wrap-up was also popular. This was when the pandemic started here in the U.S. There had been some mentions of it but this is when everything started shutting down.

3. My April wrap up is the third most viewed post. I'm not surprised that so many of these wrap-up posts made the top 10 since I link up to a few memes for it.

2. My review of Gabriel's Promise by Sylvain Reynard. This book was a surprise. We all thought that it was just going to be a trilogy, but seven years later he revised the series and brought us another book in this terrific love story. 

1. Our number one most viewed post was Susan's review of The Playground by Jane Shemilt. It's a fun read with lots of twists and turns.


Since I just use the blogger number of views to determine the top 10 it means that older posts might have more views just because it has been online longer. It still interesting to see what people viewed over the year. 

Guest Posts

We didn't have as many guest posts this year as we usually do but I'm thankful to each one for sharing their thoughts with the readers of Girl Who Reads.

Dragon's Winter
Kenny Trinh - How to Choose an eReader. Read the post.

Samuel Marquis - Soldiers of Freedom: Why the Edelweiss Pirates Are Important to History and Today’s World. Read the post.

Kandi J Wyatt - What I Learned While Writing Dragon's Winter. Read the post.

Brenda Whiteside - From Pantser to Plotter: The Evolution of Writing. Read the post

PR by the Book - 5 Tips for Authors to Promote during COVID-19. Read the post.

Andrew Altschul - Interview.

Desiree Villena - 5 Feel-Good Books to Read This Holiday Season. Read the post.

Discussions

I was hoping to write at least 12 discussion type posts this year. The pandemic gave me several topics to write about and since I wasn't reading much when it first started I relied on discussion posts. So I wrote way more than 12, but I'm still in the Creative Conversationalist level for Feed Your Fiction Addiction's Discussion Challenge.


  1. Do You Celebrate Your Blogiversary? As Girl Who Reads is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary I will look back at this post to see what other bloggers commented they do to celebrate.
  2. New Season of Bookish TV on PBS. I love the shows on PBS that are based on books. Often I haven't read the books but the shows are really good.
  3. How a Bookworm Prepares for Emergencies. I discussed ways to access books during the pandemic while libraries were closed. 

  4. Prefer Fiction? 8 Pandemic Novels to Read. I made a list of post-apocalyptic fiction that I had read wanted to read, or was recommended to me. When I made the list, I had read 4 of the books. Since then I have read 3 more. I don't read Stephen King so that is the only book on the list that I haven't read.
  5. Is the Pandemic Affecting Your Reading? I discussed how the mental fatigue of the early days of the pandemic affected my ability to read.
  6. 5 Authors of Beach Books to Read Now. I don't know if it was the pandemic or the staying home, but I wanted to get a start on beach reads early this year.
  7. It's Summer! Time for the Beach Reads. I shared some books that I thought would make great beach reads, even if you didn't go to the beach.
  8. 5 Fantasy Series to Binge Read. I don't read a lot of fantasy but the few books I have read I love and I love to read them again and again.
  9. How I Got My Reading Groove Back. Finally in May, I felt like I was getting back to my normal reading routine and I shared some tips on how you could get there too.
  10. Cracking the Bookstagram Code. I tried to up my Bookstagram game. I can't seem to get the big like numbers and I'm not sure what else I can do.
  11. How Will the Pandemic be Reflected in Literature? I wonder if books set in 2020 will have social distancing, sheltering in place, and masks. With the return of television shows this fall we have seen a variety of ways they are handling the pandemic. The medical shows I watch have fully embraced it. One show I watched rewound the clock at the set the episodes in 2019. Others show the characters working from home and wearing masks when in public. I haven't read any books that have depicted these things yet.
  12. Virtual Event with Mary Kay Andrews. The university I work for hosted some alumni author events where they invited an author who is an alum of the university and they also invited a journalist alum to moderate the event.
  13. A Deep Dive into Lewis Carroll and His World of Alice. I listened to Alice's Adventure in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and then wanted to know more about Lewis Carroll and the background on the stories.
  14. Reading Post-Apocalyptic Fiction During a Pandemic. I shared the books my book club chose for the year (our calendar runs July - June). We met in person in March before everything shutdown and went virtual starting in April so we haven't missed a meeting. We've actually added a monthly social Zoom call just to hang out. So far I've read all the books we've discussed. I hope to keep up for the rest of the year.

  15. 5 Fun Halloween Reads. I shared some free ebooks that I had hoped to read for Halloween.
  16. Book vs TV Series: A Discovery of Witches. I watched the television show on DVD and then compared it to the books. I love the book series, but not the show so much.
  17. 17 Books to Give This Year. This is basically my list of top reads of 2020.
  18. 12 Books for People Who Love Hallmark Holiday Movies. I love Christmas books and Christmas movies. I binged a lot of both this year so I put together a list for other Christmas book lovers.

Susan also wrote a few discussion posts this year.

  1. Sue's 2019 Reading Results and 2020 Plans. Susan shared her reading plans for 2020 and looked back at her 2019 reading. 
  2. Recap of 3 Author Events. Susan shared her memories of in-person events she attended at her indie bookstores before the pandemic started.
  3. 10 Books that Cause Book Hangovers. Did you read any books this year that caused a book hangover? If not, check out Susan's list. (And if you have, head over to the post to leave a comment about the book).
  4. Don't Skip These 11 Beach Reads. Susan shared some of her favorite beach reads of 2020.
  5. 7 Novels with Older Female Protagonists. Are you struggling to find books with strong, mature female lead characters? Susan rounds up some of her favorites and hopes you will share your favorites with her.
  6. Virtual Author Events. Susan is used to attending several author events every month but when the pandemic canceled in-person events she found some online to attend.

Alison's monthly posts offered more bookish discussion:

  1. A Cold and Quiet Place
    Buy at Amazon
    Reading Resolutions for 2020. She discussed books from the Great American Read that she wanted to read for the first time or read again.
  2. The Oscars 2020. Alison shared 16 thoughts she had while watching the Oscars.
  3. Alison took a mini-vacation from the real-world drama of COVID-19 when she read Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson.
  4. In April, Alison helped us celebrate Beverly Cleary's birthday.
  5. And when the pandemic really set in with stay at home orders, she shared the television shows and movies that her family were binge-watching.
  6. By June she was back to talking books when Our Chemical Hearts helped her out of her reading slump.
  7. She discussed her summer read The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James.
  8. Alison shared her thoughts on The Historian and other audiobooks she had in the queue.
  9. She shared her fall read: Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow.
  10. Since Alison is our resident expert on steampunk (she's written a YA steampunk series) so she reviewed Out of the London Mist by Lyssa Medana.
  11. We also were treated to a second post from Alison in October because she wanted to tell us about her new novel: A Cold and Quiet Place.
  12. In November, she wrote about the Netflix hit show, The Queen's Gambit.
  13. Alison ended the year with her Christmas read, The Hollow Place, and an easy cookie recipe for the holidays.

Popular Reviews

While are reading overlaps some, Susan, MK, and myself often read very different books. Susan and MK read a lot - more than me, so we have covered a lot of new releases plus a number of older titles. 

MK's top 5 popular reviews

  1. Eternity Springs: Tucker by Emily March. Her review also included an excerpt from this romance novel.
  2. The Slug Queen Chronicles by S. O. Thomas - a middle grades novel where tooth fairies are kidnapping kids.
  3. The series review of YA dark fantasy novels Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods.
  4. The Vanished Birds by Simon Jiminez - a science fiction novel.
  5. A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year by Jackie Lau - a romance series featuring Asian characters.

Susan's top 5 popular reviews

  1. The Playground by Jane Shemilt - a fun quick read and a great book for a long cold evening.
  2. The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan - this was a real coming of age novel, even though she is in her 80s, it's never too late to reconcile current life and memories.
  3. The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman -  I loved this book and think it will be one of the "must read" books of Spring, 2020.
  4. Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald - full of twists and turns and kept me rapidly turning pages (and losing sleep) until the end.
  5. Two reviews tied for the number 5 slot: 5 Books in Women's Fiction to Read This Winter and Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar.

Donna's top 5 popular review

  1. Gabriel's Promise by Sylvain Reynard - I don't read a lot of romance but I do love this series. 
  2. A Walk Along the Beach by Debbie Macomber - I love Macomber's Christmas books but she writes pretty good beach reads, too.
  3. The new Husband by D. J. Palmer - She writes excellent domestic thrillers. I can't wait to read another one of her books.
  4. Bound for Murder by Victoria Gilbert - I like this cozy mystery series. 
  5. The New Gardener's Handbook by Daryl Beyers - this book came out at just the right time since so many people started gardens during the pandemic.

Our First Reviews

  1. MK kicked off 2020 with a review of 4 horror & dark fantasy novels.
  2. My first review of 2020 was for Gabriel's Promise by Sylvain Reynard.
  3. Susan reviewed 3 good books for those cold winter days.

Our Last Reviews

In this wrap, our early reviews got a lot of attention but we finished the year with just books that were just as great and we don't want to overlook them.
  1. I reviewed my last nonfiction read of 2020: The Secret of Plants in the Environment by Rishikesh Upadhyay
  2. Susan reviewed The Maverick by Jennifer Valenti, the first in a series of seven novels entitled "The Jane Valiante Series," which crosses multiple themes within the women's fiction genre, particularly focused on stories reminiscent of the "Me Too" movement.
  3. MK's last review of 2020 was for the new psychological thriller Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd.

Best of the Bunch

We continued to name our favorite reads each month. Do you like this feature? Should we continue it in 2021? In case you missed a month:



Last review of 2020 (click to read my review)


That's the major happenings at Girl Who Reads this year. We already have some great books lined up to tell you about starting tomorrow and throughout 2021. I appreciate each and every one of our readers. I wish you a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year filled with great books!

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.
 

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6 comments:

  1. Lots of accomplishments in 2020! Hope 2021 is just as good!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow that is a lot of great blogging! And a ton of awesome discussions! I, on the other hand, miserably failed. I think I wrote two all year? My goal this year is "I’m hoping to post enough discussions to qualify to co-host this jazz" but I mean, I doubt it hahah. I DO have a couple ideas, which is more than I usually have, so we'll see! I do hope you all have a lovely 2021- we all certainly deserve a good one!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You had a very busy blogging year and accomplished so much during the pandemic. I hope you continue your bookish productivity in 2021. I read more books in 2020 than I ever have, but lacked the creativity to work on my own goals. I've finally been able to shake myself out of this and have started writing and submitting again.

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