Wednesday, December 16, 2020

What did women like in 2020?


I asked a few of my women friends who I know to be discerning readers, and who are well known in the mystery community, if they would share some of their favorite reads of 2020. 

But not just mysteries.

We decided not to limit the books in any way.  Just some favorites we'd like to share with others.

And, with that we ended up with a wonderfully fun mix of fiction, non-fiction, children's books, crime fiction, romance, fantasy, photo books, young adult, etc etc etc.  

Nor did we stick with books published in 2020 which made it fun to see some old classics along with a few books to look forward to in 2021.

Most of you who read Meanderings and Muses know some, if not all, these women.  And what an amazing group they are; readers, book advocates, librarians, teachers, reviewers, publicists, webmasters, bloggers who support authors - male AND female - and the world of books.    

You might run into any of them at any time at a book convention (when we're all able to actually start attending book conventions again).  

Consider this list of holiday recommendations our gift to you.

Marlyn K. Beebe
is a librarian, blogger, and book reviewer who lives in Southern California with her husband, and Puck (the jungle panther)

Asebedo, Miranda.  A Constellation of Roses 

Darke, Minnie.  The Lost Love Song 

 Fader, Molly.  The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season 

 Harbison, Beth.   The Cookbook Club: a novel of food and friendship 

 Fogelson, Aliza.  The Lending Library 

 Nugent, Suzanne.  Brunch and Other Obligations 

 Roberts, Nora.  The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy #1)

 Verant, Samantha.  The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux 

 Wiggs, Susan. The Lost and Found Bookshop

 Zimmerman, Vicky.  Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies 

 Sarah EC Byrne 
lives in Canberra, Australia. Police have ruled her out as a Person of Interest

The Nancys – RWR McDonald 

The Wife and the Widow – Christian White  

Weather – Jenny Offill  

Invisible Women – Caroline Criado Perez 

Goodnight, Beautiful – Aimee Molloy 

Strangers At The Gate – Catriona McPherson 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

See What You Made Me Do – Jess Hill 

488 Rules for Life – Kitty Flanagan 

Worst Case Scenario – Helen Fitzgerald 

Slow Horses (the whole series) – Mick Herron

Little Eyes – Samanta Schweblin

Eight Lives – Susan Hurley

Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith

Lollyscramble – Tony Martin

Interior Chinatown – Charles Yu

If I Had Two Wings – Randall Kenan

A Thousand Ships – Natalie Haynes

The Index of Self-Destructive Acts – Christopher Beha

The Mermaid of Black Conch – Monique Roffey

  Jen Forbus is a former English teacher and 

blogger who currently works for a small education publisher, shoots sports photography for a local newspaper and reviews children's books for Shelf Awareness. Her reading this year has been driven by current events and

 her review assignments for Shelf. 

Favorite adult books: 
How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
 by Carol Anderson
UnTrumping America: A Plan to Make America a 
Democracy Again by Dan Pfeiffer

Favorite YA/MG books:
Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of
 Democracy by Kenneth C. Davis
In the Shadow of the Moon: America, Russia, and the 
Hidden History of the Space Race by 
Amy Cherrix (this doesn't come out until 2021)

Favorite picture books:
The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham
The Voice that Won the Vote: How One Woman's
 Words Made History by Elisa Boxer
Every Color of Light: A Book about the Sky 
by Hiroshi Osada/Ryôji Arai


    M'Lou Greene  - "My grandmother taught me to read at age 3, and I've never stopped!" 

Jess Lourey, Unspeakable Things

Jodi Daynard, A Transcontinental Affair
Attica Locke, Heaven, My Home
Charlaine Harris, A Longer Fall
Keith Snyder, The Night Men
Laura McHugh, Arrowood
Karen Dionne, The Wicked Sister
Amy Sue Nathan, The Last Bathing Beauty
Carl Hiaasen, Squeeze Me
Kate Sekules, Mend! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works in IT during the day and reads mysteries at night.

Death at the Medical Board by Josephine Bell 

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton 

To Wake the Dead by John Dickson Carr 

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben 

The Shadow Broker by Trace Conger 

The Harassed Hero by Ernest Dudley 

A Murder of Crows by Margaret Duffy 

Lesser Evils by Joe Flanagan 

Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks 

Summertime, All the Cats Are Bored by Philippe Georget 

The Country House Burglar by Michael Gilbert 

The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood 

The Man in the White Linen Suit by David Handler 

Dead Man's Mistress by David Housewright 

The Elephant of Surprise by Joe Lansdale 

The Blues Don't Care by Paul Marks 

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda 

The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair 

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon 

Crush by Phoef Sutton 

  Lesa Holstine, a book lover since she was a year old, is an award-winning librarian and book reviewer who blogs at

Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey
The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben
Carousels of Paris by Kaye Wilkinson Barley & Donald Barley
The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Hide Away by Jason Pinter
The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor
Next to Last Stand by Craig Johnson
The Thursday Murder Club by Richar Osman
Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay
All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny
The Awakening by Nora Roberts
The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayless

And, two to watch for in 2021 that I already read -

Tricky by Josh Stallings (Jan)
The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett (March)

Maddee James, Mistress of, loves dogs, books, color, photography, her kids… not in that order. 

1. Untamed, Glennon Doyle
2. A Bitter Feast, Deborah Crombie
3. Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear
4. We Are All the Same in the Dark, Julia Heaberlin
5. Every Now and Then, Lesley Kagen
6. Rules for Being Dead, Kim Powers
7. Every Soul a Star, Wendy Mass
8. The Broken Girls, Simone St. James
9. Breaking Point, John Rhodes
10. The Last of the Moon Girls, Barbara Davis
11. The Glory Was I Had Such Friends, Amy Silverstein
12. The Summer List, Amy Mason Doan

Patti Cheney Lang
- Reader, wife, librarian, coloring aficionado, both nerd & geek, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, feminist, transplanted Michigander.

Three Hours In Paris by Cara Black
The Plot Is Murder by V.M. Burns
The Gold Pawn by L.A. Chandlar
Dead West by Matt Goldman
Absence of Mercy by S.M. Goodwin
A Royal Affair by Allison Montclair
The Hollows by Jess Montgomery
Blame the Dead by Ed Ruggero
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Master Class by Christina Dalcher

Science Fiction:
The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan
On the Corner of Hope and Main by Beverly Jenkins

Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay
Forever and a Duke  by Grace Burrowes 
The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler

My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman
Can't Slow Down: How 1984 Became Pop's Blockbuster Year by Michaelangelo Matos

Dru Ann Love 
is an award-winning mystery blogger at

A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

Erin Mitchell is a reader who is lucky enough to get to work for authors and publishers.

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

Still Knife Painting by Cheryl Hollon

First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Scot on the Rocks by Catriona McPherson Out on January 1, 2021

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Never Far Away by Michael Koryta  Out on February 9, 2021

Another Kind of Eden by James Lee Burke Out on August 17, 2021

Bloodline by Jess Lourey Out on January 1, 2021

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

A Time for Mercy by John Grisham

Inherit the Shoes by EJ Copperman

Kathy Boone Reel
 is a book blogger who reviews mystery/crime novels, with an occasional exception, at her blog The Reading Room, but she has been on a bit of a hiatus and now getting back to her passion with a Favorite 2020 Reads, to be posted in the next week.

Turn to Stone by James Ziskin
The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day
The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths
Hid from Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Death of a Mermaid by Lesley Thomson
Rules for Being Dead by Kim Powers
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Riviera Gold by Laurie R. King
Exit Strategy by Jen Danna
The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan
The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen
Key Lime Crime by Lucy Burdette
Scot on the Rocks by Catriona McPherson
The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
Murder in Retribution by Anne Cleeland
Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier
All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny
Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards
One by One by Ruth Ware
And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall
Til Death by Annette Dashofy

LJ Roberts has been a reader and professional reviewer of mysteries since 2004. 

  • Box, C.J. (2020) – Long Range
  • DePoy, Phillip (2019) – Sidewalk Saint
  • Disher, Gary (2019) – Peace
  • Eskens, Allen (2019) – Northing More Dangerous
  • Finch, Charles (2020) – The Last Passenger
  • Fredrickson, Jack (2020) – The Black Cage
  • Gardner, Ashley (2019) – Death at Brighton Pavilion
  • Johnson, Craig (2020) – Next to Last Stand
  • Harris, C.S. (2020) – Who Speaks for the Dead
  • Leon, Donna (2020) – Trace Elements
  • Lovesey, Peter (2020) – The Finisher
  • Penny, Louise (2020) – All the Devils Are Here
  • Robb, J.D. (2020) – Shadows in Death
  • Robotham, Michael (2020) – When She Was Good
  • Siegel, Sheldon M.(2020) – The Dreamer
  • Stabenow, Dana (2020) – No Fixed Line
  • Thomas, Will (2020) – Lethal Pursuit
  • Tuti, Ilaria (2020) – Painted in Blood (aka, The Sleeping Nymph)
  • Westerson, Jeri (2020) – Spiteful Bones

Maryglenn McCombs Warnock 
has worked in the book publishing world for over 25 years. She lives in Nashville.

Hanging Falls by Margaret Mizushima 

And here's my contribution - - - 

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley

The Awakening by Nora Roberts

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

A Time for Mercy by John Grisham

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

The Sweet Taste of Muscadines by Pamela Terry

The Last Correspondent by Soraya M. Lane 

The Wizard's Butler by Nathan Lowell

Pale Morning Light with Violet Swan by Deborah Reed

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman 

Paris is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis 

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand 

South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

Happy Reading!


Lesa said...

Great lists! So much variety on them. That was fun, Kaye. Thanks for asking us!

Janet Rudolph said...

Great lists. Wish I could have gotten one together for you in time, but reading all these I now have so many books to add to my TBR! Thanks, Kaye, for this!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Thanks for your input, Lesa! It was fun.

Janet - be prepared; I plan on asking you again next year!


Rosemary Kaye said...

Oh I love this, and so delighted to find someone else (Aubrey Hamilton) who has read Summertime: All the Cats are Bored by Philippe Georget. (I’ve read the sequel too.)

Thank you to Lesa for directing me to this!

Marie Causey Spence said...

How wonderful and what a gift! Thank you!