10 best reads of 2020 (so far)

This week’s The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday is actually about “Books that Make Me Hungry (They could have food items on the cover, foods in the title, be about foodies or have food as a main plot point… they could be cookbooks or memoirs, etc.)”.

I checked my Goodreads account and figured that I would not be able to satisfy the prompt hence I took this turn. I will be featuring 10 of the best books I’ve read this year (so far!), instead. Please forgive me. 🙂

Just a quick story, back in January, I set my Goodreads Challenge 2020 to 24 books only. This is because in 2019 I was three books short of fulfilling my target reads for the year which is the same number. And then the pandemic happened which forced me to live alone as an expat in a foreign land for almost six months now.

I took refuge in reading so till date, 45 books have served as my company this year. And here are the most amazing so far:

The Remains of the Day

1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Not a fan of classics but this one changed my mind. It is smooth and reflective and touching, all at the same time.

The Secret Life of Bees

2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I love how Sue Monk Kidd was able to bring depth to each of the character in this book, and incorporate the lovely bees in it.

Dream Work

3. Dream Work by Mary Oliver

If you are looking for quality poems, this book has them.

Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

4. Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table by Stephen Westaby

Have learned a lot about heart diseases and the lives that have been affected by such in this book. It is interesting to know the story and what is going inside the surgeon’s mind as well.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

5. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

I love how this provided me with the view of a life I was not aware of, the tea-pickers of ancient China. Tender and touching.

A Woman Is No Man

6. A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

This is a book all women of color should read. It is heartrending and powerful

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Suggested by my sister-in-law, this novel is a quick read because it will keep you on turning pages after pages because it is THAT intriguing.

Britt-Marie Was Here

8. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Backman is my new favorite author. Britt Marie has his signature humor, sarcasm, and softness.

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

9. Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou

Maya is Maya and her words will always be aflame with passion and hope.

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family

10. Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom

Leaving me in tears, as always, Mitch’s new non-fiction is a beautiful reminder of how parenthood can change one’s heart, and grief as well.

Have you read any of these books? What are your best reads of 2020 so far? Feel free to share in the comment box, with your TTT, too!

09.01.2020
©2020 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photos via The Artsy Reader and Goodreads
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Recent Five Star Reads

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“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”― Jorge Luis Borges


What’s a paradise
without
five-star
reads?

I have my own
five-star paradise,
and my recent residents
are…


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3) by Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)

Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav

Love & Misadventure

Lullabies by Lang Leav

Lullabies

Macarthur by Bob Ong

Macarthur

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Love Anthony

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train

Photo credit: Goodreads


In response to The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday today:

March 29: 10 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads (Or Ten Of The Best Books I’ve Read Recently

P.S. What are your recent best reads?

Share it to me! 😀

~

Best Read Books of 2015

Out of 48 books read last year, only eleven (11) were given five stars. And they are…

Mystery/Thrillers

The Pelican Brief  by John Grisham

The Pelican Brief

With twists and turns I have never predicted, this book made me an automatic fan of John Grisham.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones

A book I have written a full-length review is surely a special one. I just love the melancholic and creepy story told by a unique storyteller.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob

Insanely creepy yet touches realistic emotions of a family. The ending will surely give you goosies!

1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club, #1)  by James Patterson

1st to Die (Women's Murder Club, #1)

I’ve been a Patterson fan and this book surely did not disappoint. With red herrings all over the place, he’ll surprise you with a twist you didn’t see coming.

Contemporary Fiction

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice

I am not actually a  fan of medical drama novels but this one really moved me. Lisa Genova was able to tell the horrors of Alzheimer’s disease with candor, braveness and emotional softness. It’s just exquisitely done, definitely moving.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret

If you think this is a typical infidelity/love affair novel, think again. Liane Moriarty’s well-told story about a broken marriage without the usual cheating issues will make you a fan.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time

The ending of this Jodi Picoult masterpiece still lingers on me a year after I finished it. As my 100th read book and with its special story about motherhood and elephants, this is indeed one of the best novels that I have read last year.

Young Adult

Every Day (Every Day, #1) by David Levithan

Every Day (Every Day, #1)

The unique premise and the subtle complexity of the characters will really grip you and make you read this mysterious yet heartwarming novel in one seating. David Levithan is surely an author worth reading.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places

Its cover will pique your interest but it is the rawness of the story inside that will give you a major book hangover. It took me two days to brush off the roller coaster of emotions that Jennifer Niven has given me. P.S. Get tissues once you reach the last chapters.

Historical/Adult Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See

A book worthy of its Pulitzer Prize award. A novel written in eloquent prose poetic paragraphs equipped with vivid imagery and breathtaking metaphors. Every readers should brave the more than 500-pages, because this is a novel truly worth reading.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

I am definitely a Mitch Albom fan, but that is not the sole reason why this book gained five stars. It’s how the simple words were written in such a gorgeous way. It’s how every paragraph breathes the story. It’s how the end of each chapters that’ll make you gasp with surprise or melancholy. This book is great, really great.

©2016Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.

Photo credit: Favim and Goodreads

What are the best books that you’ve read last year?

What book in this list piqued your interest?

I would love to know!

~

Let’s read classics!

If you’re on a hunt for the best must-read classic novels, then read on! 

Because ‘to read more classic’ has been an infamous bookish resolution last Tuesday, here is a short list of recommendations I got from some awesome book lovers!

I am more than happy to receive all the encouraging comments for my new year’s resolution post last Tuesday! What’s best is that I now have a handful of must-read classics to choose from for this year!

And I am sharing it with you! ❤

From Belinda of Changing my World with Words

“Pride and Prejudice” is a always a good one, but if the 20th century is okay with you, try “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Rebecca.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee  

To Kill a Mockingbird

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca

From Mandi of Mandibelle Thoughts Expressions and Articles

“Emma is great by Jane Austen, The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne, Alice in Wonderland and Alive Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Virgin and the Gypsy by D.H. Lawrence, or Son’s and Lovers by the same. The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald.”

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Virgin and the Gypsy by D.H. Lawrence

The Virgin and the Gipsy

Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

Sons and Lovers

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

From Irene of Toodles Irene!

“So far the only classic I’ve really enjoyed has been Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck.”

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men

From Wendleberry of Marvel at Words

Some off the cuff recommendations:

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Herland

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray

From Alyssa of Book Club Babe

My fav classics are either romances (Wuthering Heights, Age of Innocence) or dystopia (1984, Brave New World).

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence

1984 by George Orwell

1984

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World

From Christopher of CLCouch123

“If you’re interested in a kind of classic, I might be able to advise. I happened to buy two new novels while I was away. They are The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell–sort of a Vatican conspiracy-thriller–and The Well by Catherine Chanter, which looks freakish and I trust will be freakishly good.”

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

The Fifth Gospel: A Novel

From Lynn of Books and Travelling with Lynn

Lots of great classics out there – I second Wendleberry’s above – particularly Howl’s Moving Castle.

Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle, #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)

Photo credit: Favim and Goodreads

Have you picked your classic now?

Please tell me!

If you have more recommendations, please share! 😀

P.S.

Thank you BelindaMandiIreneWendleberry, AlyssaChristopher, and Lynn for sharing to me your classic insights!

~

30-Day Book Challenge: Day 23 – Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months

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Got some time to continue beckysblogs’ awesome 30-Day Challenge! Here it is…

DAY 23. – Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months.

For the past 12 months, I have read a lot of new authors. When I say new, I mean new to me. I read a lot of reviews and to-read list to know who are the authors and what are the novels worth reading.

Honestly, there are some novels that appeal to most of the readers that appears overrated to me. But there are also those books and authors that are really really worth your time.

It is hard to pick only one best book because the past 12 months are full of good reads, so here are the my 10 BEST books (August 2014 – August 2015 edition):

Note: This is ordered according to the most latest book that I have read.

Every Day (Every Day, #1)

This book is really unique. It takes a lot of imagination to come up with such an interesting and literally out-of-this-world premise. So kuddos to David Levithan!

The Lovely Bones

Haunting opening scene and calming closing chapter. Alice Sebold is indeed a skilled storyteller.

Still Alice

Realistic and relatable. Lisa Genova has translated Alzheimer’s disease in the most understandable way. She knows how to make the readers feel the grief and courage of her main character, Alice.

Leaving Time

I still cannot forget the ending of this Jodi Picoult masterpiece. As my 100th read book and with its special story about motherhood and elephants, this is indeed one of the best novels that I have read for this year.

Never Never (Never Never, #1)

I hate how Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher ended this novel. I hate and love them because they are just so great in engrossing me that I read this book for just over an hour! I was left hanging, but it is fine! This book made me a fan of these two lasses!

The Husband's Secret

If you think this is a typical infidelity/love affair novel, think again. Because Liane Moriarty was able to craft a story about a broken marriage without the usual cheating issues. This is worth reading!

Defending Jacob

Just when you thought that you figured out the story, William Landay will show you that you just don’t. The twists and turns of the plot especially towards the end will caught you off guard. And that is exactly what thriller and mystery novels should be!

We Were Liars

Talkin’ about unpredictable writers? Well, that is surely E. Lockhart. The ending of We Were Liars is just so surprising that I was really left in awe. I even questioned myself if I really read the book thoroughly or E. Lockhart is really that good. I think it’s actually the second. 🙂

Eleanor & Park

Cute yet heartbreaking. This book made me want to read more of Rainbow Rowell. The story will give you some flashbacks of your own highschool love story because Eleanor and Park are both imperfectly perfect. That is why their story is just so alluring!

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)

Who could ever create a love story with an almost ‘abnormal’ leading man? Don Tillman is brave enough to go beyond the typical handsome and perfect lover boy. His bravery has created a witty, sometimes annoying, but definitely loveable character.

So there!

It was fun to recall the great book hangovers that these 10 awesome books have given me.

Actually there are some great books that I was not able to include because I want to post Top 10 only. But I think I should still mention them here. Here’s a quick run down:

I Am the Messenger

Moving.

Gone Girl

Insane.

The Selection (The Selection, #1)

Fascinating.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Unique.

And Then There Were None

Creepy.

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)

Tearjerker.

and

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)

Engrossing.

I do hope you can include some of them in your TBRs!

~

Top 10 List: The Best Novels of Nicholas Sparks (Part II)

Top 10.jpg

As promised, here are the great Nicholas Sparks novels that will complete my Top 10 list!

Just like my last post, I included in here the main story of the novels, the reason why they are special to me, the awesome trivia based on Nicholas Spark’s website and Goodreads and the heartfelt quotes from each stories.

Read on and see if your bets have made it! 😀

Here they are:

  1. At First Sight (Jeremy Marsh & Lexie Darnell, #2)

At First Sight (Jeremy Marsh & Lexie Darnell, #2)

What is it about?

This is the story of endings and beginnings, tragedies and joys and doubts and love between Jeremy Marsh & Lexie Darnell and the family that they try build.

What makes it special?

Like The Wedding, I also read At First Sight first before I was able to read its prequel, True Believer. So I have no background knowledge of Jeremy and Lexie’s beginning as a couple.

On the other hand, this story can stand on its own and it is special to me because of its ending that really made me cry. This book is the 3rd Sparks’ novel that really made me cry. Really.

Did You Know?

  • Lexie is named after Nicholas Sparks’ youngest child.
  • Though At First Sight is not based specifically on someone close to Sparks, Lexie’s character and her pregnancy are modeled after Spark’s wife Cathy and Jeremy somehow resembles Sparks’ brother, Michael Earl and to him as well.
  • A real Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern, North Carolina was used as the model of the cemetery in the two Lexie and Jeremy novels.
  • The idea of At First Sight came on a cloudy afternoon in late January, when Sparks editor had suggested a revision of True Believer’s ending.

Have you read?

  1. The Notebook

The Notebook

What is it about?

Do I have to tell what this is about? 😀 This is the most-loved story written by Nicholas Sparks. With Noah and Allie Calhoun’s story of enduring love, Sparks has captured a lot of readers.

What makes it special?

As I have said, I have read a looot of Sparks book already before I got to read Noah and Allie’s story. But that doesn’t make The Notebook any less special.

This novel is indeed one of the best debut novel ever written.

Did You Know?

  • Noah and Allie Calhoun’s story is inspired by Sparks’ wife’s grandparents who have been married and remained together for 60 years.
  • Although some parts of Noah and Allie’s story happened to Cathy’s grandparents, some parts don’t. Thus, Sparks clearly say that The Notebook is not a memoir.
  • This is Nicholas Sparks’ first ever published novel.
  • This book gave Nicholas his life’s first 1 million after he signed with his editor, Theresa Park.
  • The Notebook was written after The Passing and The Royal Murders, which were not published.

Have you read?

  1. The Longest Ride

The Longest Ride

What is it about?

This is about the two  couples, Ira and Ruth and Luke and Sophia, set with different circumstances and set in different time yet will unexpectedly converge through twists of fate.

What makes it special?

The Longest Ride is the first ever Nicholas Sparks book that had me crying even in the first few chapters. Ira’s letters to Ruth are just so heartfelt and they’re sad but definitely sweet.

Did You Know?

  • The inspiration of The Longest Ride is the Black Mountain College, a liberal arts school in North Carolina.
  • Black Mountain College served as the honeymoon destination of the old couple, Ira and Ruth. It is where Ira bought six paintings for Ruth, who is an art enthusiast.
  • Sparks created the story of a new couple, Luke and Sophia, to balance Ira and Ruth’s enduring love.
  • While Luke is a professional bull rider, Sparks has never been to a Professional Bull Riding event.
  • A film adaptation for The Longest Ride has been released just last April 10 starring Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, and Alan Alda.

Have you read?

  1. Nights in Rodanthe

Nights in Rodanthe

What is it about?

This is a short yet strongly emotional love story of Paul Flanner, a divorced father and surgeon and Adrienne, a 45-year old divorced mother, in a community of North Carolina called Rodanthe.

What makes it special?

Because the characters are at their mid-old ages already, I quite didn’t expect that this book will really affect me. I consider Paul and Adrienne’s story special because this is the second Sparks book that made me cry, a lot actually.

I cannot forget how I finished this book in just one night and at 3 in the morning I was silently crying and I really can’t stop the tears because of Paul and Adrienne. 😦

Did You Know?

  • Paul and Adrienne’s names came from Spark’s in-laws. His in-laws have requested a book with their names as a Christmas gift from their son-in-law.
  • Paul’s last name, Flanner, was the name of Sparks’ dorm in college while Adrienne’s last name, Willis, came from someone Sparks know.
  • The names of Paul and Adrienne’s children are from Sparks’ cousins.
  • Rodanthe is described accurately in the novel. There is no inn on Rodanthe’s seaside, though.
  • Some parts of Paul and Adrienne’s story really happened to Nicholas and his wife Cathy. First, they both met on Spring break and they both went to a small town to take some break.
  • Like Paul and Adrienne, Nicholas and Cathy were both Catholic and middle children with an older brother and a younger sister. Both of their parents are celebrated their anniversaries on August 31.
  • Like Paul and Adrienne, Nicholas and Cathy were also together for only five days. The couples also write letters and call each other when they were apart.
  • Some of the letters quoted in the book are really from Nicholas’ letters sent to Cathy.

Have you read?

The greater the love the greater the tragedy when its over

  1. Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle

What is it about?

A story of finding love after grief, Message in a Bottle is a novel about Theresa Osborne, a divorced mother and a columnist who found a bottle in the beach containing a love letter from Garrett Blake to his deceased wife, Catherine.

What makes it special?

Message in a Bottle is the first Sparks novel that made me cry. The ending, especially Theresa and Garrett’s father’s conversation is just so hard to read.

This novel is also special for me because like Theresa, I am also a writer. Also, I loved Garrett’s character. His letters are just so endearing and touching to read. And actually, words are my language of love, so I have actually prayed for a real life Garrett. ❤

Did You Know?

  • The novel was inspired by Spark’s father, Patrick Michael Sparks.
  • Like Garrett, Patrick was devastated when his wife Jill Emma Marie Sparks died of cerebral hemorrhage after a fatal fall out of the horse saddle. Patrick mourned for his wife for four years and cut all interactions with the world even with his children.
  • After seven years, Patrick like Garrett was able to found love again. Their endings are the same as well… (I won’t say it!)
  • Theresa Osborne was named after Spark’s agent, Theresa Park.
  • The novel was sold to Warner Brothers when it was only half complete.
  • The first draft of the screenplay was finished on the same day the novel was finished.

Have you read?

BONUS: Three Weeks With My Brother

Three Weeks With My Brother

What is it about?

In this novel, Nicholas and his brother Michael ‘Micah’ Sparks told their memorable trip together as well as their shared family and brotherhood tales.

What makes it special?

I included this book in this list as a bonus because I think most of Sparks fans have not read this book yet. So I am here to say that this is a great read!

There are chapters that is really amusing, especially during Micah and Nicholas’s childhood and there are chapters that can make you cry, like when their mom suddenly died and then their only sister died and when their dad died as well. Nicholas’ way of narrating his and his brother’s feeling towards those deaths are just so heartbreaking.

Did You Know?

  • The brothers’ trip around the world was part of a Notre Dame alumni package.
  • Nicholas and Micah’s favorite part of their three-week trip is the Machu Pichhu in Peru. Sparks said “The site was overwhelming.”
  • The least place that they would want to be back again is India, for Micha and Norway, for Nicholas as they were not able to see the famous northern lights.
  • During the trip, Nicholas got sick for eight hours after eating in Cambodia.
  • Nicholas and Micah Sparks wrote the book together from separate coasts by talking on the phone and faxing drafts back and forth.

Have you read?

That’s it!

Do we share the same thoughts? Please let me know on the comment box. 😉

~