I have become an avid reader over the last couple of years. For 2020, I've set a goal to read 75 books in the course of the year, and I'm on track to do that. (Secretly, I'd actually love to hit 100, but I didn't start reading voraciously until February, so...we'll see.) During January through March, I read 15 books, and I am going to share my reading list and honest reviews with you.
Spring 2020 Book Review
I thought about categorizing these, but I think we’ll just go in the order in which I read them. I’ve linked each book to where you can purchase them. Some of the links are affiliate links.
I purchase a lot of my books from ThriftBooks. You can search for books, and the price is dependent on the condition. Many of mine have been library books and are in great condition but a fraction of the cost compared to purchasing brand new!
"The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen: 83 1/4 Years Old" by Hendrik Groen
One of the best books I’ve read in a long time was a book called “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. When I read the back cover of “The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen”, it sounded equally charming.
The first half of the book kept my interest – a sweet, old man living in a retirement home in Amsterdam, complaining about being old but making the best of it. The book is quite literally his diary entries. It tends to drag on a bit, but honestly has some sweetness to it – the way the friends care for one another, and create the “Old But Not Dead” club.
Hendrik and friends are quite funny. Hendrik’s attempts to drive his scooter and ending up in the bushes was comical.
"Rhythms of Renewal" by Rebekah Lyons
“Rhythms of Renewal” is part Bible study, part autobiography, and 100% worth your time. Rebekah shares her history with anxiety and panic attacks, while addressing our natural rhythms that were gifted to us by God, but rhythms we allow ourselves to ignore because of the pace of life.
Over the four sections of the book, you will learn how to get back into healthy rhythms to rest, restore, connect, and create.
This is one of those books that I suggest you take your time with – read it with your Bible close by, marinate in it, and work through the questions at the end of each section with a notebook in hand.
Let this one change you.
"Then She Was Gone" by Lisa Jewell
I discovered Ruth Ware novels last fall, and when searching GoodReads for books similar to hers, I found Lisa Jewell.
Goodreads, you know me so well!
“Then She Was Gone” was terrifying. A 15-year-old girl on the verge of ending her school year on a high note, in love with her ever-so-charming boyfriend, and the favorite child of three, leaves home to go study, and never returns.
Years of wondering whether or not her daughter is alive or dead drive the mother almost crazy. She refuses to move on with her life, until one day, she meets a man in a coffee shop, and his daughter, around the age of 10, looks strikingly like her own missing child. But how could that be?
"Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens
We all just need to pause a moment in appreciation for this beautiful novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing”.
I was raised in South Georgia, surrounded by the marsh, tall oak trees covered in Spanish moss, the sounds of cicadas lulling me to sleep.
Kya Clark, the “Marsh Girl”, lives in the middle of nowhere, on the marsh, in complete and utter squalor. She grows up mostly alone. She’s an outcast – poor, dirty, and quiet.
Then the small town is shaken by a murder, and the townspeople point to the quiet “Marsh Girl”.
You will consume this book with all of your senses – seeing the beauty and filth, smelling the saltiness of the ocean, hearing the birds. You won’t want it to end!
"Watching You" by Lisa Jewell
I told you I liked Lisa Jewell. “Watching You” will have you checking your neighbors windows as you drive by to be sure no one is peeping on you.
One neighbor, a single mom, is paranoid, and tells her teenage daughter that someone is coming in her house and moving things, spying on her.
Another neighbor is the head of a fancy private school who is known for restoring schools that are on the verge of shutting down. He’s seemingly perfect, but something is “off” about his son.
In between these two lives a young doctor and his new wife, and his wild child sister and her new husband who paints houses.
Their lives intertwine and you won’t know who to believe when things get strange!
"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins
I have yet to see the movie that “The Girl on the Train” inspired, but the book itself was so good!
Rachel has trouble moving on after her divorce. It doesn’t help that she commutes by train each day, passing by her old home where her ex-husband now lives with his new wife.
One morning, while spying on her old home through the train window, she sees something that frightens her – she thinks she sees a murder.
She attempts to find out what happened, but she gets caught up in her past, and her anxiety threatens to ruin her completely. She discovers that people are not who they always appear to be.
"The Alice Network" by Kate Quinn
A historical fiction novel based on the real life Alice Network, a female spy group in France during World War II, “The Alice Network” bounces between 1915 and the harrowing and dangerous lives of the spies, and 1947, when a young woman goes on a hunt for her missing cousin.
Charlie St. Clair, an unwed, pregnant college student, runs away from her mother while on a train to take care of her “little problem”, and seeks out a rough-around-the-edges woman named Eve to help her locate her missing cousin.
Charlie soon learns that Eve’s past is worse than she could have ever imagined, and uncovers the truth about her cousin and the awful events of WWII.
"Into the Water" by Paula Hawkins
From the same author as “The Girl on the Train”, “Into the Water” takes readers to a village with a river running through it – a river that seems to draw in the women of the village to their untimely death.
When yet another woman’s body is discovered, the town, along with her teenage daughter and estranged sister, seek answers. Was it suicide, or something more sinister? And what secrets does the river hold?
"The Boy Who Could See Demons" by Carolyn Jess-Cooke
This was a library find, and turned out to be creepier and more fascinating than I anticipated – so much so that I read it in one day.
A ten-year-old boy, Alex, has a secret “friend” – a 9000-year-old demon named Ruen. Sometimes Ruen seems friendly enough, promising that Alex and his mother will move to a home that isn’t falling apart. Other times, though, Ruen is downright terrifying.
Psychiatrist Anya is assigned Alex’s case, and begins to think that Alex isn’t making things up. He knows things about her, about her daughter, that he shouldn’t.
The end of “The Boy Who Could See Demons” completely caught me by surprise in the best way possible. This is a great book for demonstrating the power of our brains and what happens to them due to trauma.
"Without Merit" by Colleen Hoover
Another library find, “Without Merit” follows a teenage girl named Merit, twin sister of Honor, as she deals with her family’s secrets.
Merit’s mother has mental issues and lives in the basement of the family home – a church that has been converted to a home, where a 9-ft. tall Jesus still hangs on the wall. Meanwhile, Merit’s father has remarried, her sister is perfect, and her sister’s also-perfect boyfriend moves in.
Secrets and disfunction abound in this saga filled with teen angst. There is a sweet romance, but the story itself lacks…well, “merit”.
"I Found You" by Lisa Jewell
Yep. Lisa Jewell again with “I Found You”. Alice, single mom, wakes one morning to find a man on the beach, in the freezing rain, with no jacket, and no memory of who he is or how he got there.
Meanwhile, a young bride waits for her new husband to arrive home after work, but he never shows.
Alice lets this man stay in her rental space, and soon becomes comfortable with his company, while helping him try to piece together his past.
Lily, a stranger herself in a country that is not her home, looks to the police, who tell her that her husband never existed.
What do these women and this man have to do with one another? And how did he come to forget everything about his past?
"All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr
Another historical fiction novel centered around WWII, “All the Light We Cannot See” is poetic, beautiful, tragic, and incredibly raw.
Readers view WWII from two vastly different perspectives. First, Marie-Laure – a young girl who became blind at a young age, being raised by her single father who works at the Museum of Natural History in Paris until the war finds its way to her front door.
Second, Werner, a boy raised with his sister in an orphanage in Germany, found to be quite knowledgeable of the inner workings of a radio. He is taken to a school that raises Nazi soldiers.
A blind girl, a Nazi boy, a bombed Paris, and an illegal radio broadcast. Tragic. Beautiful.
"Bird Box" by Josh Malerman
I watched the movie “Bird Box” last year, and found the concept interesting. Books tend to be better, and it was, but only slightly.
There seems to be a sickness that is spreading rapidly around the globe. People are killing themselves for seemingly no reason. When this “thing”, whatever it is, gets close to home, and Malorie’s own sister ends her life, Malorie, pregnant and alone, must do whatever she can to stay alive.
Whatever you do, don’t take off your blindfold. Just listen for the birds – they’ll warn you of the dangers that go unseen.
"The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn
Anna is a recluse, confined to her home by her agoraphobia. She talks to her husband and daughter often, and misses them terribly, but their lives couldn’t remain on hold while she stays locked inside.
Anna spies on her neighbors, and eventually, something sinister is afoot. She befriends the teenage son – after all, she was a child psychiatrist before the accident. This boy knows something, but he fears for his own life, and doesn’t want Anna to get hurt.
When Anna witnessing a murder, she is convinced that she’s crazy. It’s the wine and the meds. But is it? Or are the neighbors hiding something? Who is the woman in the window?
"The Starless Sea" by Erin Morgenstern
I absolutely loved “The Night Circus” so of course I had to read “The Starless Sea”, and it did not disappoint!
Erin Morgenstern writes magic in a way that makes you feel like you are living in it. Her vivid imagery brings the story to life.
Zachary is a college student. He happens upon a book in the library that has no author, and a story in the book is his story – he recognizes it right away! But how?
Zachary discovers a hidden world where stories are protected, even to death. An entire underground world that changes and moves and transcends time; stories that seem like just that – stories – but then he meets the people in the stories.
And someone is trying to destroy it all.
Get lost in this magic of the Starless Sea. You won’t want to leave!
So, what will you read next? Any recommendations to add to my reading list?