End Of The Year Reading Survey 2020


 I was debating what blog posts to make a priority in my 'End of the year wrap-up "series"'. In past years, I've done best, worst, surprising, disappointing, and DNF's. However, having read so many books this year I wanted something that would help me write about the middleman books. The ones I gave 3 or 4 stars but still thoroughly enjoyed. When you read close to 200 books in a year, it's very easy to forget to talk about some books that you enjoyed. I'll be trying my best to not repeat any answers throughout this survey, but don't hold me to that!

This survey was created by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner. I did adapt/remove some questions that either weren't applicable to me or that I would've had repetitive answers for, so be sure to check out her post to get the full survey. 


Number Of Books You Read: 184

Number of Re-Reads: 5 (The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead)

Genre You Read The Most From: General Fiction. 

2 0 2 0   I N   B O O K S

1. Best Book You Read In 2020?

Know My Name by Chanel Miller. 2020 was the year that I fell in love with non-fiction as a genre. Know My Name is the memoir of Chanel Miller, a victim of sexual assault who overcame her demons and wrote this harrowing book that tore my heart into a million little pieces. The writing within this book was phenomenal, it may be the most well written piece of art (especially in non-fiction) that I have had the privilege of reading. I cried, felt warm, and grew incredibly attached this admirable woman. If you haven't read this yet, do it. It deserves to be read. (Naturally, huge content warning for sexual assault.)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

One by One by Ruth Ware. I have a complicated relationship with Ruth Ware as I've read her entire backlist but usually end up giving her thrillers a 3 star rating. The Death of Mrs. Westaway and Turn Of The Key seemed to of ended that streak by both coming in at a 5 star, but alas.. One by One was a huge letdown. It felt like her writing had backtracked by having a iffy plot, so-so characters that weren't very vivid, and mediocre plot twists. The atmosphere was exquisite, but it couldn't help save the book from being, well, boring.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman. I've always enjoyed Hoffman's writing but this book literally blew me away, I stayed up far too late reading and it yanked me out of a reading slump which was joyous. This is the prequel to Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic that follows a witch in the 1600's, who finds herself in Salem during the Witch trials. It's fast pace, historically frustrating, and has a great case of female characters. 

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. Solely because I know of at least two people who I nudged into reading it sooner than they planned. This is the second book in The Brown Sister trilogy by Talia Hibbert, where career driven Danika Brown starts a fake relationship with hunky security guard Zafir Ansari and things quickly get steamy. This is a hilarious romance with such great characters. Talia Hibbert has quickly become one of my favourite romance-contemporary authors. 

 5. Best series you started in 2020? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender of 2020?

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. I'm really enjoying myself with her Wayfarers series, and I'm hoping to pick up the third book Record of a Spaceborn Few in January. Her mix of sci-fi with a contemporary feel really works for me. 

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2020?

Elizabeth Acedvedo. The Poet X had been on my TBR for years thanks to the unrelenting praise it gets within the online book community. However, it always took a backseat as I didn't own a copy and the one my library has always seemed to be loaned out. I randomly picked up her newest release Clap When You Land and it was incredible. I then proceeded to pick up The Poet X (Yay for Libby!) and though I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Clap When You Land, it was still a beautiful piece of art. The format of books told in verse has been a recent discovery for me and I'm thoroughly enjoying them. 

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson. Gothic horror really isn't a genre I have experience reading, and though there is a decent argument to be made that this book reads much like a standard dark fiction, I really liked it! This is about two sisters, Constance and Mary Katherine Blackwood, who have been shunned out of their community after a tragedy took place in their home. This is a very polarizing book, people either adore it or hate it with a passion (like my husband). I personally found the dark ambiance rather poetic and it sucked me deep into the story.


8. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020?

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie. Look at the colors! This cover was the main reason I picked up this debut from the library, and it was honestly wonderful. It's majorly underhyped in the book community. In it, we follow Afi Tekple who is offered the opportunity to be married off to a wealthy man. Wanting to better her own life and that of her family, she agrees. However, the man is not who she hoped he be. This is a hard hitting contemporary about love, marriage, and the consequences of expectation in a marriage. 

9. Most memorable character of 2020?

Zara from Anxious People by Fredrick Backman. This is easily in my top three books of the year, if you've been around these parts before then you're probably already sick of me talking about it. Zara was by far the best character I've read all year. She had so many layers and struck me as a truly realistically flawed human. Read my full review for Anxious People HERE

 10. Most beautifully written book read in 2020?

coffee days whiskey nights by Cyrus Parker. This is a 2020 released poetry collection that I was lucky enough to get an ARC of through Net Galley. It saddens me greatly that I haven't seen it pushed more online. Cyrus Parker did a phenomenal job at crafting a collection that seemed to have a story woven throughout it while still making it applicable to any reader who has had a history of depression and found hope. It was beautiful. 

 11. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read? 

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. What an absolute joy of a book! This Canadian Children's classic has sat on many of my shelves throughout the years but I hadn't ever sat down and read it in it's entirely. Anne is a wonderful character that had me laughing constantly. It felt a novel version of sunshine.

12. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2020?

“Forgetting it is important. We do it on purpose. It means we get a bit of a rest. Are you listening? We have to forget. Or we’d never sleep ever again.”

― Ali Smith, Autumn

13. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2020?

Shortest: Lou in Lockdown by Jojo Moyes (46)

Longest: 11/22/63 by Stephen King (740)

14. Favorite Book You Read in 2020 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Giver Of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I've read a good portion of this author's backlist, but her newest release was wonderful. This is a historical fiction based on the true events of women who grouped together to form a travelling library between the years of  1935 and 1943. There's been a little controversary around this book as it was speculated to be "heavily inspired" by another authors book, but I'm not sure what the outcome of that was. Either way, I enjoyed it and the audiobook was magnificent. 

15. Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. The absolutely wonderful @@m.is.reading recommended this to me after we buddy read Colleen Hoover's 2020 release Heart Bones (which I didn't wholeheartedly love). HOWEVER, It Ends With Us was such a journey, I went into it not knowing anything and expected just your standard smutty romance, but oh boy. This book broke me. If it's been on your radar at all, I encourage you to pick it up. (trigger warning: domestic abuse, attempted rape)

16. Best 2020 debut you read?

I'm going to cheat a little and say Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. This got published on December 29th 2019 but got popular in 2020. Honestly, this is a work of absolute art. The story is revolved around a young black woman who gets accused of kidnapping a white child (who she's nannying). That accusation starts a domino affect in the woman's life, starting drama with both her employer and "boyfriend". This is hard hitting book that reads like regular fiction. It will keep you thinking long after you turn the final page.

17. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. This was the only high fantasy book I read this year and it didn't disappointed. Was it as memorable as Mistborn? Nah, but it was very entertaining and I flew through it faster than I thought I would. By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished in this world. Two sisters have to navigate the insanity to find each other again. Who doesn't love a sisterly duo? There's also a talking sword which was undoubtedly the highlight of the story.

18. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Fangs by Sarah Anderson. This is a comic/graphic novel about a vampire and werewolf who fall in love. It was so wholesome and funny. A perfect read for Halloween! (I read this through an ARC provided by Net Galley)

19. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2020?

The Switch by Beth O'Leary. This is about a grandmother and her granddaughter who essentially "swap lives" for two months, with the Grandmother going to stay in London and the Granddaughter returning home to a small town. As I've already mentioned, I lost my Grandmother last year and this book just hit home in a completely different way. It was a fun read, but still shattered my heart from the joy. Maybe I'm just a Grinch. 

20. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill. This is a romance picture picture between two princess who fall for each other after a princess saves the other from a tower. I adore Katie O'Neill's The Tea Dragon Society series and this didn't let me down. As a standalone this was a flawless story, and I would happily buy this for my future children. It's a super quick read but even adults would get something out of it.

21. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I've been told to read this notorious book for literal years. (I'm not going to give a synopsis as it's widely known in the book community). I finally picked it up this month and dayum, it broke my heart, soul, and mental ability. What a beautifully tragic novel.


22. Most Unique Book You Read In 2020?

Little Scratch by Rebecca Watson. I received this through Net Galley for a review, and I honestly did not know what to expect. This is the story of a unnamed woman who is coping through the trauma of a sexual assault, however the format of this book was insanely interesting. It was told through a stream of consciousness that was partly in "sections"? I have no idea how to explain it. If you're craving a book that's completely different to any other book you've read, pick this up. 


1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2020?

Drinking By My Shelf on Youtube. Emma is such a wonderful booktuber who speaks about a wide range of books that will forever end up with me putting in a new request at my library. She helped guide me to Emma Tobias, What Victoria Read, and leena norms. This year has really opened my eyes to the joy that is the booktube community away from the mainstream channels that always seem to be problematic. (Besides BooksandLala)

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2020?

Probably The Pisces by Melissa Broden Book Review just because it made me laugh so much.

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2020?

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

I really enjoyed getting involved with the Mentalhealthathon Readathon as it not only helped me get to so many books on my TBR, but I gained a lot of interaction from my involvement.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2020?

Honestly, being able to interact with so many book creators on Twitter/Instagram. This community is incredibly kind and welcoming, it's helped with my virtual confidence. 

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Am I being a cliché if I say Covid? I fell hard into so many reading slumps this year that really added to my already dwindling reading habits. I went at least 4 days without reading a single page in September which is uncommon for me, especially with mainly listening to audiobooks at bedtime. I guess my brain was louder than my listening ability. 

7.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I compiled a list of "20 books I want to read in 2020" post, which I failed miserably. But otherwise, my goals were mostly basic ass ones. Such as, "read more than 100 books", "read at least one non-fiction per month", or "read more classics". I have more specific goals for 2021 which I'm excited to share. Mostly, I feel like I accomplished my goals but were they really hard for me personally? No. It was an entire copout. 

L O O K I N G   A H E A D

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2020 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2021?

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. A girl relives her life over and over. I honestly do not know anything more than that, and I don't want to. I've hardly read any books with this premise but I'm intrigued to read more, and so many people rave about Kate Atkinson as an author. The sole reason I haven't picked up this book yet, despite it being included in my "20 books I want to read in 2020" list, is that it's pretty huge. 500+ pages will always intimate me.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2021 (non-debut)?

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. A novel that semi ties into The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo? YES, PLEASE. I adore TJR and I've already preordered this absolute delight. 

3. 2021 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

One Carefree Day by Whitney Amazeen. This is Whitney's Amazeen's debut novel and it sounds bloody wonderful. To quote Goodreads: "For eighteen-year-old Willow Bates, anxiety is just a part of life. With her every decision ruled by intrusive thoughts, she's worried she sometimes seems a little odd. Despite Willow's efforts to hide her OCD from those around her, it isn't always possible. Her rituals are her coping mechanism, and Willow's past has left her with a lot to cope with.

But when Willow takes things too far, her mother breaks and gives her an ultimatum: Willow must finally start taking meds to treat her obsessive-compulsive disorder, or she'll have to move out within three months. But Willow is terrified of both options, and can't afford to support herself as a new cosmetology student."

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2021?

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert. I'm lucky enough to of received this through Net Galley but I'm waiting to read it closer to it's release date. I spoke above about The Brown Sisters trilogy and I'm so psyched to read the third installment. Act Your Age, Eve Brown weaves romance with autism rep and I'm hoping to be educated more on the condition. Hibbert can do no wrong.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2021?

I would like to start a Booktube channel but my self consciousness and fear seems to always prohibit me. I'm terrified of being made fun of or ignored within the community. Welp. Otherwise, I want to take part in more readathons socially, and not just take part silently, and perhaps make 5k on my bookstagram @BranchingPages. What about you?

6 Worst Books Of 2020

I've read close to 200 books in 2020, so naturally I picked up a few that didn't mesh well with me. There's been a recent surge of hate for this type of post/video in the book community (mainly in the author circles) which I find rather idiotic. Reading is incredibly subjective and as someone who would call themselves a book reviewer, I feel obliged to mention the books that I hated just as I mention the ones I love. You may have a favourite book on this list and that's perfectly fine. Whatever I may not of liked about the plot, writing, or whatever, you might just adore. Example: I love Normal People by Sally Rooney and so many people hate that book, which, you guessed it! Is perfectly fine! I mean no hate towards the authors of these books, they simply landed on the bottom of my list of books I read this year. Let's get on with the post.

1. Fledgling
Octavia E. Butler  

A vampire (in the body of a literal female child) wakes up with no memory of her former life and is taken in by a 23-year-old man who is immediately infatuated with her. Together, they try and piece together her former life. I adore Kindred, the author's other novel that was released in 1979. However, Fledgling fell so damn flat. Not only did the overall "romantic" plot creep me out (A 20 something man feeling attraction for what they desire as a 13-year-old looking girl? No), but the actual plot was incredibly boring. It was mostly just a court case of Vampire rights where nothing of importance happened. I DNF'd with 30 pages to go and I still don't feel like I missed out on anything. It saddens me as, like I've said multiple times on this blog, Kindred is one of my favourite books. It's brilliantly written with a cast of incredible characters. I don't know what happened in regards to Fledgling

You may like this if... You enjoy heavy politics in your supernatural books, slow burn stories, and/or you want to read all of Butler's novels.

2. I Know Who You Are
Alice Feeney 

As with most domestic thrillers, this is a 'who done it?" plot with a dead husband, a unreliable wife, and the foundation for a terrible marriage. I hated this book, oh my, I hated it. Not only was the writing the bare minimum of basic, but there were so many questionable plot decisions that were borderline offensive to the trans community. The big twist was in relation to incest, which.. ew, David. It left me with a horrible taste in my mouth and I majorly regret pushing myself into finishing it. I think I'm done with Alice Feeney's work as I also didn't enjoy Sometimes I Lie, which had a rape attempt that was entirely looked past in the novel. I feel like the author replies too heavily on trying to shock the reader instead of actually putting logic into her plot twists. Not for me.

You may like this if... You enjoyed Sometimes I Lie. (that's literally all)

3. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles 
Haruki Murakami

Toru Okada is searching for his wife's missing cat, but soon he is looking for his wife who has also vanished under mysterious circumstances. This is one wacky novel, the plot goes to so many insane places that I truly only knew what was happening 50% of the time. However, I could've looked past the truly peculiar plot if it wasn't for the writing itself. If I never read another description of a woman's chest size again, I'll be happy. There's a teenage girl character who befriends the protagonist, which.. felt so questionable. He was continuously checking out her bikini clad body, because of course she's in a bikini, and yet mentions repeatedly that she's underaged. I also didn't like how Murakami made most of the women childlike, and yet sexualized them through the eyes of Toru. 

You may like this if... you enjoy wacky translated novels, you can look past sexism in books, you enjoy Murakami's writing style.

4. The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Heather O' Neill 

Rose and Pierrot are both abandoned at an orphanage in 1914. There, they experience abuse - sexual and physical - and eventually leave to forge their own paths, yet they're always hoping they'll find each-other again. Their longing for one another is the driving force behind this coming-of-age story that has elements of magical realism. I picked this up solely because of the abundance of comparisons that people do between The Night Circus and this. And.. okay, yes, I see why someone would recommend one if you liked the other, but instead of the gentle gorgeous world that was crafted in The Night Circus, The Lonely Hearts Hotel mainly focuses on the darkness of life. I hated how grim this novel was, especially as it didn't seem to have a clear direction. It was depressing, after depressing, with a hefty amount of abuse in various forms (sexual, mental, physical). I wanted to wash my body each time I picked this up, just because of how gritty it made me feel. I could look past that if I felt like that was the intention of the author, but instead it seemed to be trying to be.. romantic? If you want to read my full review, check HERE.

You may like this if... you enjoy very dark/gloomy contemporaries, you adore Julie Whelan as a narrator on audiobooks, you want a mix of The Night Circus, A Little Life, and the Wayward Children series. (I say that adoring all 3 books, but hating this. So take that with a grain of salt.)

5. Peter Pan
J. M. Barrie

Peter Pan and Tinker Bell whisk away three children to the magical place Neverland. There, they go on a dangerous adventure against the villainous Captain Hook. I get that not all children's classics will of aged well, but boy, did Peter Pan absolutely crash and burn. Not only was it incredibly sexist toward Wendy, but.. it made no sense. The story was so peculiar that I'm still not entirely sure what happened. Peter was insufferable and I repeatedly wished for the ability to give him a smack. Finishing Peter Pan felt the same as finishing a plate of poorly cooked pasta and regretting all your life choices. I would never recommend this to anyone, and I would most definitely never read this to my future children. This edition is beautiful, and that's honestly the only thing it has going for it.

You might like this if... You enjoy reading children's classics, you love the movie and want to experience the book.

6. Luster
Raven Leilani 

A young black woman starts an affair with a married man, but after her luck gets nonexistent, the man's wife invites her to stay with the family. I'm honestly so confused as to why this book is so popular within the book community. Not only was the writing very simplistic, but the characters were all godawful. There were no redeemable qualities about Edie, the protagonist, unlike say Queenie or Grown Ups, wherein the main character has a notable growth throughout the novel. I never found myself caring for anyone in this book, so when plot points would happen I felt.. nothing. With a contemporary that's primarily focused on mental health or character development, you have to care or else it will always become a 2 star read. I may just be in the minority with this, but yes.

You might like this if.. you gave Queenie a high rating, you don't mind not liking any characters in your reads, or you want a controversial bookclub pick.

So, 6 bad books out of what is currently 182? Not bad at all! What book from this list would you still pick up? Let me know. 

Top 12 Books Of 2020


So, it's time for my yearly wrap-up of books! I didn't publish this sooner as I had a hope that a last minute read would surprise me and become a favourite (Spoiler: It happened and it was Anne of Green Gables). I hope your reading year was both successful and fun! Here are my top 12 books of the year, but please take this list with a grain of salt as I couldn't possibly put them in a accurate order. 

1. Know My Name
Chanel Miller

I don't think a non-fiction has ever been my favourite book of the entire year, but here we are. Know My Name is a gut-wrenching memoir by a woman who survived sexual assault and went through the rape trail that divided America. Chanel Miller is a strong, artistic, intelligent, wonderful human being and she really showed that through the words in this book. I never thought a book could be so mutually heartbreaking and uplifting, but somehow this inspiring woman managed to do that. I listened to this as an audiobook and I urge you to do the same, the author narrates it herself, and to hear her speak the words of her story herself is breathtaking. Though this memoir is mostly about the assault that changed her life, it's also a journey of a young girl finding herself again after she was robbed of the girl she used to be. In a similar vain as Cheryl Strayed struggling with the passing of her mother in Wild, this is a self-discovery novel. Chanel Miller never shy's away from writing about her depression and anxiety with a bluntness that can be truly difficult to read about, and yet, we have to. If you've survived a sexual assault or struggle with your mental health or simply want to read a book by a remarkable woman, pick up Know My Name. I cried, smiled, and my skin is permanently changed after the amount of goosebumps the writing gave me. 

2. Magic Lessons
Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons is the prequel to both Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic. If you've never heard of the books, I guarantee that a good portion of you have watched the Practical Magic movie adaptation starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Yes! That one, this is the book series that inspired that magical movie. I read The Rules of Magic earlier this year and didn't love it as much as I hoped to, but was entertained. Alice Hoffman's novels always read like a Pinterest board and that book fell heavily into it. A lot of substance without much payoff, if that makes any sense. So.. I digress, when I saw Magic Lessons on Net Galley I instantly requested and then regretted it. What if it was a bit boring? Alas, it turned out to be my second favourite book of the entire year. We love a Cinderella story! Magic Lessons takes us all the way back to the 1600's to when Maria Owens was born. A naturally gifted witch whose life takes her on many journeys - some wonderful and some heartbreaking. As a little girl she learns to hone her skills with a fellow witch who takes the orphan in, and as a teenager she gets her first taste of love and it consumes her, even when it takes her to Salem during the witch trials. How did she come to curse the entire line of Owens without love? Read and find out. You could quite easily read this series in reverse order, which I might do sometime next year as a reread adventure, so please.. if you enjoy witchy books, mother/daughter dynamics, romance, or historical fiction, immediately add this to your TBR! 

3. Anxious People
Fredrik Backman

Are we surprised that a Fredrik Backman book is on here? Nope! Backman is a auto-buy author for me, I adore his contemporaries and short stories. There's no other way of describing his books other than unashamedly human. So, when his new book was released and I got approved for it on NetGalley I instantly began reading and.. yup, it's taken over Beartown as my favourite book by the Swedish author. Anxious People is about a group of people who get held up at gunpoint during an apartment viewing and the many ways that being human can save you. The main aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the intertwined lives of all the characters, I think it was done beautifully and really made me think about how such small things you do in your day can impact someone else. Suicide is a heavy topic in this novel and Backman manages to write about it with such grace and yet honesty. I have never felt so seen before in a book, and that's priceless. I finished the last chapter and instantly reread it. If that's not a sign of a absolute adoration of a book, I don't know what is. 

4. Such A Fun Age
Kiley Reid

This book took Bookstagram by storm earlier this year. I was seeing it everywhere so instantly got it from my library because I like to read what's making the rounds. And.. wow. I'm still awed that this was a debut novel. Such A Fun Age is about Emira Tucker, a young black woman who babysits a white child one evening and is accused of kidnapping. Hearing about the incident the mother of the child, Alix Chamberlain, takes it upon herself to try and change Emira's life - even if it means not listening to the girl. This book, at heart, is about performative activism. It's a look at race, wealth, and definitely delves into the 'white savior' complex. But it's also a very easy read. It reminded me a lot of Celeste Ng's writing, where the topic is heavy and yet the reading experience is light. It's remarkable that a first time author manages to accomplish that. I really liked how well developed Alix and Emira were, and I thought that the author did a swell job at not boxing either of them into stereotypes. The ending was a little rushed, but overall, a really solid book that I would reread. I think it would make for a great mini series. 

5. My Dark Vanessa
Kate Elizabeth Russell 

This dark contemporary is about a young girl who gets groomed by her professor and the effect that it has on her life. Vanessa is a teenager when her professor starts 'flirting' with her, intimidated by his maturity and wanting to feel beautiful, she mistakes his infatuation for love. Years later, she's an adult and the #MeToo movement is bringing out the brave, women everywhere are coming out with their sexual assault stories. When another girl comes forward with allegations against the professor, Vanessa's professor, it causes Vanessa to revisit her past and see their relationship in another light. It's hard to write about a book like this and not compare it to Lolita, heck, Lolita is a heavy theme throughout this novel. It's both different and the same. Lolita seems to glorify the taboo romance, whereas My Dark Vanessa is a very intimate look at a victims mentality throughout the relationship. The mix of past and present was done seamlessly, and the author did a wonderful job at writing a layered character. This would be a great book club book.

6. From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
Tembi Locke

Memoirs are tricky things to give a synopsis of as, well, they're about the authors life. However, From Scratch is about Tembi Locke's journey of learning to find love in life again after losing her husband to cancer. Her and her daughter spend their Summers in Sicily with her late husband's family, and together they grieve. Do you ever randomly pick up a book and it blindsides you with just how wonderful it is? That was this book for me. The grief that this book radiated broke my heart into smithereens. I'd never heard of Tembi Locke through her acting (though Eureka is on my 'to watch' list), I didn't even know she was a popular actress when starting From Scratch. I was expecting a memoir focused on grief, and instead I got a book that, yes, spoke about loss, but it also delved into motherhood, the beauty of food, new beginnings, and the process of learning to find joy again. I lost my Grandmother last year and this book came to me at just the right time. Tembi Locke is an admirable woman who's strength astonishes me. In the physical book there are recipes woven into the chapters, I think (?), so I'm interested in giving this a reread in that format as I went with the audiobook on Scribd. Read this.

7. The Midnight Library
Matt Haig

A woman who tries to kill herself instead wakes up in a library filled to the brim with variations of her life had she made different choices. The librarian gives her the chance to "try on" each life to find a happier existence. And the award for the most original premise goes to... This is such a fun yet interesting idea for a book. I was worried it wouldn't be executed well, but it was wonderful. In the same vain as Anxious People, The Midnight Library is such a poetically quiet book. It's such a beautiful look at humanity and I think Haig did a marvelous job at writing from the POV of someone who wants to end their life. I loved how gradual the protagonist's view on life changed, it never felt rushed or unrealistic. It was just an all round beautiful novel that I urge anyone to pick up. I definitely need to read more Matt Haig.

8. Take A Hint, Dani Brown
Talia Hibbert 

Danika Brown is focused on her career and has no time for romance. She wants toe-curling sex without any strings attached. Easy! However, Zafir Ansari, the handsome security guard of her workplace, is a brooding romantic. When a video goes viral of Zafir carrying Dani out of a building in a fire drill gone wrong, he begs her to play along in a bid to stir up some publicity for a charity he runs. You can guess what happens next. I liked Get A Life, Chloe Brown, the first book in The Brown Sisters trilogy, but I didn't love it. My expectations were too high for the Fibromyalgia rep, so naturally, it fell short. However, Take A Hint, Dani Brown was a bundle of joy. Despite Talia Hibbert's books usually being centered around a romance, she does weave more serious topics into the story. In this, Zafir has anxiety and, in my opinion, the portrayal of panic attacks in the book was incredible. I've never read a more accurate portrayal of anxiety in fiction. It felt like a weighted blanket of understanding. I also really liked that Dani was bisexual and yet it wasn't just to fuel a plot. As a couple, I 110% bought Dani and Zafir together. They were steamy, sweet, and bettered one another. They had a very mature romance, which you don't always see in this genre. I adored it.

9. The Housekeeper and the Professor
Yōko Ogawa

Each morning the Housekeeper and the Professor meet for the first time. After a tragic car accident that resulted in the Professor only having a 80 minute memory, he is a recluse at home and the Housekeeper is hired to take care of him. Slowly, a strange but beautiful friendship builds between the two unlikely allies. This is a quiet novel that is so potently beautiful. I grew to deeply care for the characters despite the short length (191 pages). In many ways, the writing of this reminded me of Fredrick Backman's way of writing. It was subtle and yet full of endearment for humanity. If this has been on your reading radar at all, I urge you to pick it up. It's well worth your time. 

10. Black Flamingo
Dean Atta 

Michael, a young half-Jamaican half-Greek Cyprian is a young man struggling to come to terms with his identity. We follow his story from boyhood to university, and learn how his life leads him to discovered drag and becoming The Black Flamingo. This novel is mostly written in verse, but it has illustrations and poetry woven throughout the story. These type of books always seem to get compared to one another (The Poet X, Clap When You Land, Punching the Air) but I think that's awful. Each book has it's own story to tell, and Black Flamingo has touched my heart the most. I cried, I laughed, and I grew deeply fond of Michael. 

11. Anne of Green Gables
L. M. Montgomery

When 11-year-old Anne Shirly is mistakenly dropped off with spinster Marilla and bachelor Matthew Cuthbert, she turns their lives upside down with an array of funny antics. There is no more accurate word to describe this children's classic other than delightful! As a protagonist Anne was a pure joy, her whimsical personality and amusing interactions with other characters literally made me laugh out loud. I was honestly surprised by how feminism forward this book was, given that it was first published in 1908. You could take Marilla out of this book and put her into a recent release and she'd fit in fine. (Can she adopt me?) I knew this was going to be a fun read, but I didn't expect it to elevate my mood as much as it did. If you're feeling down, I wholeheartedly recommend you read this. I'm kicking myself for not picking this up sooner.

12. Girl, Woman, Other
Bernadine Evaristo  

Spanning over several decades, Girl, Woman, Other, is told through twelve narratives of mostly black women. We get snippets of their lives and learn how all their stories are woven together. This was a book that grew on me the longer I sat with it on my mind. When I initially read it, I think my expectations were so high that it was always going to disappoint me. However, I read this novel months and months ago and yet I still think about it often. Bernadine Evaristo did a wonderful job at writing such a large cast of characters, and yet they were all vividly unique. This was undoubtedly the best written book I read in 2020, it empowered me as a woman in a way that I didn't know fiction could. This would make a epic bookclub pick.

So, that's a wrap on the best books I read in 2020! What book topped your list? Let me know!

3 Festive Cornflake Cakes


Cornflake cakes will always remind me of being a child at a birthday party. The mix of cheap chocolate that tasted basically like pure sugar and cornflakes were always a hit. Even as an adult, cornflake cakes are still a go-to snack for me when making something for game nights or parties. They're a hit and so easy to spruce up for the holidays. Here are just a few ideas that may inspire you!

 Side-note: If you're from the US, you may not of heard of the British classic as my husband nor his family did before me. It's a mix of melted chocolate and cornflakes that you put in cupcake cases and let cool. They're crunchy, sweet, and delicious! I strongly recommend you give them a go. Just be sure to call dibs on licking the bowl.

The cooking method for all of these flavors are the same, so let's go that first and then we'll move onto the flavor combinations that will bring joy to your mouth. I usually do 2 cups cornflakes to 1 cup of chocolate, but it's honestly a preference.

Step 1: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with a few inches of water (just enough to not touch the bowl that you're going to place on top), and then put a glass bowl on top.

Step 2: Put your chocolate in the bowl as you slowly bring the water to a rapid boil. Stir constantly to prevent the chocolate burning.

Step 3: Once 3/4 of the way melted, stir in your additional flavors.

Step 4: Remove the bowl from the heat, and let it stand for a few minutes.

Step 5: Mix in your cornflakes and scoop into cupcake casings.

Step 6: Once cooled, keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Peppermint Snow

2 cups cornflakes
1 cup white chocolate chips
A dash of peppermint essence (taste as you stir)
Optional decoration: mini candycane

People who say white chocolate isn't chocolate are just wrong! There is nothing like tucking into some creamy white chocolate with a mug of hot chocolate. Too much sweetness? Never, it's Christmas! I enjoy some minty treats every now and again, After Eights are a necessity in any UK household! But there's something even more festive about the mix of peppermint with white chocolate. It's indulgent while still tasting like something you would've eaten as a child.

Dark and Salty 

2 cups cornflakes
1 bar of good 70% dark chocolate
Pinch of kosher salt
Optional decoration: a cube of the chocolate used and more salt

Quite the opposite of the first, but many of us have developed more of an intense taste over the years and there's nothing more sophisticated than yumming down on some 70% chocolate with a glass of mulled wine. The mix of dark chocolate and salt is next level, with the added crunch of the cereal? Delicious! 

Reese's Joy

2 cups of cornflakes
1 bag of Reese's Christmas trees
Optional decoration: Reese's tree

Peanut Butter and chocolate are better matched than Mr and Mrs Claus. Reese's trees are beloved at this time of the year, so why not mix it up into a classic cornflake cake? These are super easy as you can literally use Reese's Peanut Cups but alternately you could use plain chocolate and peanut butter (especially if you prefer almond butter or sunflower butter). These are always super easy to make vegan. A great all rounder that both adults and children will hoard! 

Do you have fond childhood memoires of cornflake cakes? Let me know!

Weight Gain | The Roaring Twenties



It's been a hot minute since I did a post for this "blog series". My plans for The Roaring Twenties kinda got flushed down the toilet the moment the pandemic hit, hopefully next year I will be able to accomplish my original plans, however, for today we're discussing one of the most difficult topics that I ever write about.. weight. If you're sensitive to discussions around weight, dieting, or disordered eating, click out now. You're worth more than being triggered, you're beautiful, kind, intelligent, and worthy of more. Go watch some cat videos. 

So, weight. That's a huge topic. Let's talk about my past in relation to body image.

During my teenage years I really struggled with self image, disordered eating, and what was an unhealthy relationship with exercise. I would push my body to the brink of breaking. I wasn't happy unless I was constantly sore and/or hungry. I felt a pang of proudness when my stomach would be cramping from hunger as it made me feel powerful. Looking back, I think I was so desperately on the hunt for control that I took it greedily wherever I could. After all, what do you have more control over than your body? The thing with disordered body image is, even when you might be at the lowest weight you can achieve, you feel like a failure. I was always unhappy when I looked in the mirror, and despite losing a few dress sizes or watching the inches fall away when I routinely measured the width of each limb, I didn't believe any of it. It all felt fictional. I craved more. I wanted happiness and I thought that I would find it in a size 6 dress and visible ribs. Since my younger teen years, I've had BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), I've already written an entire post about there here 'A Distorted Vision: One Girl's Story Of Living With BDD' so I'll try to not repeat myself, but.. yeah. It was tough. And I still look at a dress that fits me just fine but wonder how I'll ever get myself into it. The mental eye is a bitch, basically. 

But alas, this post isn't for talking about my teenage self. This is what happened in my 20's. Buckle up.

So, as you may know, I got married in my 20's. I moved from the UK to California and made a life with my now husband. And, as with any happy relationship, I gained a few lbs. I did notice it gradually adding on, but figured once I knew that I'd be returning to the UK (waiting for a green card is a lengthy process) I'd go on a strict diet and lose the weight. As you may of already figured out, my brain is not very logical. The sad thing is, I maybe went up a dress size. That's it. And yet I felt like I had royally screwed myself over and would be shamed for looking like a blown up whale. When I could finally book a flight, I felt overwhelmed enough that dietary restrictions didn't cross my mind. Sometimes as I lay there at night, I'd remember my pledge and would sneak off to the bathroom to whack out 50-100 squats and pushups. I'd return to bed, and would throb. My body would be screaming and I'd smile. It was honestly a blatant mess. 

Over the past year or so, I've been trying to come to terms with myself. My chest has expanded, my hips have expanded, and I can no longer count my ribs with my fingertips. Hello 20's. I sometimes go on a self shattering scroll through old photos and it's hard to look at photos from my late teens and see the body that I hated back then, but would give anything for now. It's strange, isn't it? How we romanticize the past. I know that as you get older your body matures and my period has been incredibly inconsistent the last few years. Hormones seem to be invading me. It's a mix of everything, basically, and it's overwhelming to look at how much I'd have to change to go back to be.. what? a 34C? To wear the same jeans that fit me now, but that I felt better in back them because I'd have to hike them up every now and again? A body is just a body. I'm conflicted. I wish I had girlfriends who I could discuss things like this with, but instead I have a cat who just rapidly blinks at me and doesn't offer suggestions.

Lockdown has also been very difficult in regards to eating healthy, getting enough exercise, and not allowing my mood to crash to a point of not being able to get out of bed. Blegh. 

I want to put a plan together to feel more comfortable in my body next year, but I'm so afraid that it'll be a slippery slope that I'll fall down and old habits will reservice. My mind is toxic and I don't trust it to protect me from doing idiotic things. Since I was a child, I've been an "all or nothing" kind of person. I struggle in the gray and I know I'll have to dwindle there for a while if I want to lose weight in the correct way. 

All in all, if you're struggling with your weight right now and feel alone in the ongoing battle, I understand you. I had a much unhealthier relationship with food in my teens, but I'm struggling more in my 20's as I feel like I ought to have it figured out by now.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria | Book Review [spoiler free]


Jasmine Lin Rodriguez is going through the messiest break-up in recent tabloid history. It seems like every magazine has her startled face on the cover with some cruel headline. In a bid to concentrate on her acting career, she makes a "Leading Lady" plan.  Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy. Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars. But when she gets cast alongside the telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez in a romance heavy TV show, she may be in trouble.

Ashton is trying to step away from telenovels and make it in America. But he's hiding a secret that may jeopardize everything. Between that and the sizzling attraction that's brewing between him and Jasmine, his life is about to get messy.

This is a dual prospective romance novel. It has elements of comedy, but it mainly focuses on family dynamics and has a wonderful commentary on the diversity that Hollywood is lacking. Let's start with that..

I was honestly blown away with how well Alexis Daria wrote about the lack of Latinx actors in media. It was tasteful and yet eye-opening for someone like me who isn't all that familiar with the experiences that people face when getting into the business. It never felt like it was trying to make a statement, it was simply stating the facts. I also appreciated how inclusive the overall book was. Gender neutral bathrooms, women in charge, there was a secondary character who was trans and yet it was never made a "thing". It simply was. They were trans, and that was that. Books that focus solely on heavy topics matter, but it's also lovely to have gay joy. Or black joy. Or any kind of joy in a book. We exist as one and it's great that more recent releases are finally noticing that. 

As the main female of the story, Jasmine was great. At the very beginning of the novel, she's having a conversation with her sisters about her romantic life and they all comment on how attached she gets in a relationship, which is something I can relate to. I'm an "all or nothing" kind of girl which can often lead to disappointment. I liked that Jasmine was upfront with her flaws, yet never looked or spoke down to herself for having them. She wasn't willing to be pushed over, but she wasn't a bitch about it either. Her character was very well-rounded. Her ambition was her more prominent quality, which, hell yes. Give me more power women in romance, please.

Ashton grated on me at times, but don't all broody guys do that in books? I liked that his main focus was his family. He seemed to have a more difficult job breaking into American television than Jasmine, which was an interesting topic to read about. I liked his interactions with almost all the other characters, I just wanted a bit more.. drama? His "big secret" really wasn't all that explosion, but maybe I was expecting too much Jane the Virgin level drama. 

Together, Jasmine and Ashton were.. dayum. They had more steam than a hot shower. I liked that they had a decent amount of interaction before their relationship took a full blown romantic turn as it helped me as a reader root for them. In the book, they start rehearsing lines together after work and Ashton helps Alexis with her Spanish. It was.. wholesome. I could envision them as a couple, which you 110% need in a romance novel.

My only true issue with You Had Me At Hola was the inconsistent dissension making revolving the characters and their relationship. It got very repetitive and made the pacing of the book feel broken. I think the novel would've benefited from being 50ish pages shorter and having the characters be more decisive about whether they want to be together or not. Some chapters were so similar to previous ones that I often had to look back just to double check that I wasn't rereading a paragraph. 

Overall, this was a solid 4 star book. It's most definitely worth a read, whether you're going into it for the inclusivity within the character list or the romance. 

Library Book Haul 2020


When you're finally able to venture to your favourite library bookstore after 8 months only to see that they're having a $10 bag sale (you fill a large brown bag to the brim with books and it only costs $10), it's only logical to have a celebratory shopping spree. Me and my husband (@BilliamSWN) love supporting our local libraries and it was honestly such a joy to have the opportunity to purchase from their used sections again. Here's part 1 (yeah, we did some damage) of my haul, enjoy! 

Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott

Do I already own this book? Yes, multiple times. But ohmygosh, so pretty! I will be donating one of the paperback versions of this classic tale revolving around a group of misfit sisters to sooth my guilty conscience, but.. dayum. I read Little Women for the first time early 2018 and fell in love with the story. Jo is one of the superior female characters ever written, especially in the era that this was published. In 2019 the movie adaption got released and it only fuelled my love for the book. If you haven't read this book yet as you think it may be daunting, have no fear! It's heart-warming and truly a joy to delve into.

Seven Days Of Us
by Francesca Hornak 

Goodreads Synopsis: It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family. For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.

I've seen this book make it's rounds through bookstagram and booktube but never actually knew what it was about. To be entirely honest, I assumed it was a rom-com book set around Christmas and that's why I put it in my bag. However, I later learnt that it's more of a family tale that gives me the impression of books like This Is Where I Leave You. Honestly, this intrigues me more and I'm exciting to hopefully get to this before Christmas.

The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison

Goodreads Synopsis: Set in the author's girlhood hometown of Lorain, Ohio, it tells the story of black, eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove. Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America. In the autumn of 1941, the year the marigolds in the Breedloves' garden do not bloom. Pecola's life does change- in painful, devastating ways.

As you read this, I'm in the middle of Beloved and it's stitched itself onto my heart. Toni Morrison has always been known for her poetic way of writing and her stories that are the pinacol of black women's lives. The synopsis to The Bluest Eye has always been the one that's intrigued me the most. I did attempt the audiobook a few months back but the narrator wasn't for me, so I'm hoping to physically read this next year. I'm not sure how I feel about this edition, thoughts? 

Sing, Unburied, Song
by Jesmyn Ward

Goodreads Synopsis: Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

I got this out of my library a year or so ago and never got the time to read it before it got returned. To be honest, I solely picked it up because the librarian who checked me out raved about the story. I already know that this book will break my soul into a million pieces. Have you read this? Please tell me your thoughts as I have no idea what I'm in for. 

The Library Book
by Susan Orlean

Goodreads Synopsis: On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Since I first say this book, I thought it was fiction. So when I picked this up at the bookstore and read the back I was pleasantly surprised. It sounds so good! In 2021, I'm going to try and widen my experience with non-fiction books that aren't strictly memoirs or biographies. I read I'll Be Gone In The Dark this year and found myself very entertained. So, maybe I'll enjoy a wider range of this genre! The same as last year, I'm hoping to pick up at least one non-fiction a month and The Library Book will be topping my list of priorities. 

The Kiss Quotient 
by Helen Hoang

Stella wants to experience passion with somebody. She's on the spectrum and that makes her romantic life a little wonky. Enter in a guy she's hired to fuel her sexual desires, Michael. Michael is a man of the night and craves more from his life. Together they may just find compatibility. 

I adore this book! I read it a few years ago and constantly debate rereading. In the same vain as The Hating Game, I think the author did a tremendous job at writing a couple who have true on-page chemistry. I can't entirely comment on Stella's Asperger's as I have no experience with it, but from a reader's standpoint, I learnt a lot. I've never experienced a traditional contemporary romance that's taught me about something vital before. Would 110% recommend! 

Miracle Creek
by Angie Kim

When an explosion kills two people, everyone is to blame. Who did it?

That's a hella vague synopsis, I know, but I went into this book entirely blind and I recommend you do the same. It's literally a more intense version of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng which I adored. Me and my husband did the audiobook for this and I 110% recommend it. It's a great look at immigration, and alternative medicine. 

We Are Okay
 by Nina Lacour

Goodreads Synopsis: Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

The Clockmaker's Daughter
by Kate Morton 

Goodreads Synopsis: In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

This book has always intrigued me. The cover is beautiful and the overall story seems like a perfect quiet fantasy. Though, I shan't lie, the size is very intimidating. If you have any idea what this book is like, please tell me. I'm very intrigued.

So, yeah, this haul was very miscellaneous but if there's anything that interests you, let me know! Merry week before Christmas!

Latest Instagrams

© Rooting Branches. Design by FCD.