With a Book in Our Hands

Eighteen reviewers telling you the good, the bad, and the ugly

With a Book in Our Hands

Eighteen reviewers telling you the good, the bad, and the ugly

December 9, 2020

Desiree Reads’s Five Star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Faves of 2020

Today we bring you Desiree Reads’s Five Star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Favorites of 2020. Start your latest book binge with these six fab faves!

The Last to Know
by Jo Furniss
Published August 11, 2020 by Lake Union Publishing
Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Women’s Fiction

An excellent read by Jo Furniss. I was entranced with this novel from the very beginning – from the moody landscape, to the lurking mystery and the sharp-as-whip descriptive prose. If you appreciate a smart thriller, eloquent composition, or especially if you’re a fan of Daphne DuMaurier, then this book is for you.

After many years of living abroad in Africa, Rose is looking forward to settling down to a safe new life in her husband Dylan’s family home in the quiet, English countryside, along with their young son, Aled. However, Rose quickly discerns that the town of Hurtwood, along with the historical Hurtwood House manor, may not be as peaceful as they first seem.

As Rose works hard to settle in to her new life in her new hometown, she encounters weird occurrences at the manor, and whispers behind her back in town. She begins to question everything she thought she knew about her husband and her child. But finding the answers she seeks, leads her into dangerous situations. Can she survive the search for truth?

Well done, Ms. Furniss. I raise my glass to you!

The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig
Published September 29, 2020 by Viking
Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Women’s Fiction | Magical Realism

I purchased Matt Haig’s latest novel via a subscription to Once Upon a Book Club and I was not disappointed! What an amazing, wonderful, imaginative, powerful book! I just can’t say enough good things about it. So lovely and heart-warming, it is definitely one that will stay with me for long time to come.

It’s a bit of a cross between the Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley movie, Bedazzled, without the devilish part, and a modern take on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Nora’s life has been such a disappointment. When she finds herself realizing that there is no one in her life who would miss her if she were gone, she wakes up in the Midnight Library. Alternate lives are there to check out and try on and Nora can’t resist giving it a go.

An inspiring and motivating tale of the choices we make in life and how to choose to live well. I highly recommend this novel.

Why Birds Sing
by Nina Berkhout
Published October 6, 2020 by ECW Press
Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Here’s a favorite from the inaugural week of With a Book in Our Hands. Refresh yourself here on this beautiful tale that will hit you right in the feels!

Murder in Old Bombay
by Nev March
Published November 10, 2020 by Minotaur Books
Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Historical Fiction | Mystery

Pull up a cocktail and be swept away. A fabulously original twist on the Sherlock Holmes-style mystery, Murder in Old Bombay takes you a on a magic carpet ride to British Colonial India of the late 1800’s. You’ll feel utterly transported as sandalwood and jasmine perfume the air, elegant women draped in beautiful silk saris catch your eye, and scoundrels and scamps appear around every bend.

Captain Jim Agnihotri has nothing but time on his hands while recovering in the hospital from recent battle wounds. With not much more than his Sherlock Holmes novels and the newspaper for company, Jim becomes intrigued by reports of two young women who fell to their deaths from a nearby tower. Deeply moved by the widower’s letter to the paper, and with a strong conviction that there’s more to this story than it may seem, Jim makes it his personal mission to solve the mystery of the women’s deaths and bring the Framji family some peace.

The requisite puzzling clues appear, and pontificating of course ensues, along with adventurous treks across the Indian landscape, a burgeoning romance with an enchanting Persian beauty, and the ultimate prize Jim didn’t realize he was looking for – a sense of belonging – and of family.

This book is truly a treasure. Pick it up as soon as you are able – you won’t be sorry!

After All I’ve Done
by Mina Hardy
Published November 10, 2020 by Crooked Lane Books
Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

This book had me mock screaming and hitting the couch cushions with disbelief – You’ll be kept guessing until the very end! Flash back and join in the fun with Patricia, Stephanie, and me as we discuss After All I’ve Done here on With a Book in Our Hands.

The Mermaid from Jeju
by Sumi Hahn
Published December 8, 2020 by Alcove Press
Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
General Fiction (Adult) | Historical Fiction | Women’s Fiction

Simply stated: The Mermaid from Jeju is down-right magical book. Set part in present day America and part in postwar Korea, it is equal parts history lesson and fairy tale. Beautifully rendered, with language that sweeps you away to the little island of Jeju, you find yourself longing to visit the isle and its naturally rugged beauty of the past.

The book is told in two parts, with “Part One” being told mostly from the point of view of our leading lady Junja. The reader becomes so absorbed in the rich story telling that when reaching “Part Two”, which switches gears to Junja’s husband’s point of view, it is almost disorienting. But author Sumi Hahn deftly weaves the two halves of the novel together like fine embroidery, gently looping and back-stitching and connecting each character and piece of the story together into a mesmerizing tapestry.

A rock-solid debut that portends amazing things to come from Ms. Hahn. Highly-recommended, this novel is a great choice for book club readers – a tale so deeply atmospheric that it will linger well after it’s finished, much in the vein of David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars.

A big thank you to authors Jo Furniss, Nina Berkhout, Nev March, Mina Hardy, and Sumi Hahn; publishers Lake Union Publishing, ECW Press, Minotaur Books of St. Martin’s Press, Crooked Lane Books, and Alcove Press; as well as NetGalley, for providing free Advanced Reader Copies in exchange for these honest reviews.

Buy your copies of these Five Star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Favorites of 2020 now, and see 21 more compulsively readable Top Books of 2020 at BookShop – the online bookstore that contributes 75% of each book’s profit margin to independent bookstores.  You can even select your favorite corner bookshop to receive the contribution via Find a Bookstore – wow!

Leave a Reply below and let us know what you thought of these Five Star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Favorites of 2020 – we’d love to hear from you!

Desiree Reads
Desiree Reads


6 thoughts on “Desiree Reads’s Five Star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Faves of 2020

    Author’s gravatar

    I was turned down for Midnight Library. Glad to see it was a good read. I think it’s a book I need.

      Author’s gravatar

      It was pretty great – I highly recommend it!

    Author’s gravatar

    Love this year end wrap up! Several of these are on my TBR. Thanks for the great recommendations!

    Author’s gravatar

    Ooh, The Midnight Library is on my TBR list! Now I’m really excited about it!

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi bunkie,

    It was a great book – I hope you love it!

    Come back and drop a Comment after you’ve read it – I’d love to know what you think!


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