Our 10 Most Surprising and Disappointing Reads of 2020

most surprising and disappointing books we read in 2020

We read a lot of books in 2020 (207 to be exact between the two of us). Now, that’s a lot of books, which means we read a lot of good ones, some meh ones, and some we’d be happy to rant about to a listening ear.

For the most part, we knew what to expect going into most of the books we read and we were happy with our experience. In some cases, some books came out of nowhere and were leagues better than we expected. Others didn’t live up to expectations and disappointed us. Now, these are not our favourite or least favourite books of 2020, these are just books that exceeded or didn’t quiet meet the expectation we had going in to it.

So, here is a list of 10 of our most surprising and disappointing reads of 2020:

Amber’s Surprising Reads

Neverwhere Neil Gaiman book cover

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Release Date: September 2, 2003
Publisher: Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 370
Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo

Biggest reading surprise of the year for me: I really like Neil Gaiman. I had never read any of his work until I took his MasterClass and afterwards I knew I had to to read his books. There was something about the way he talked about writing and building characters that just fascinated me. To then read his books after listening to how he wrote them was a really unique experience. Neverwhere was my favourite of the books of his I read this year and I can officially say I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman.

chasing cassandra lisa kleypas

Title: Chasing Cassandra
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Release Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Regency Romance
Pages: 384
Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo

Samantha made me read this. I feel like this is the case with every Regency romance I read. As with most recommendations from Samantha, this book did not disappoint me. I hadn’t read any of the other books in this series, but from page one I was captivated. This book was the first of many more historical romances I read in 2020. I always knew this was a genre I would enjoy, but hadn’t really explored it until this year. I knew I would enjoy this book, but it really was amazing and I need to get started reading the rest of the series.

Amber’s Disappointing Reads

Ninth House Leigh Bardugo Book Review

Title: Ninth House
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 459
Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo

I bought this book the day it came out and then it sat on my shelf until recently collecting dust. I tried to pick it up multiple times since I bought it, but every time the book just didn’t capture my interest. I couldn’t understand why. Leigh Bardugo, dark academia, magic, and secret societies. Come on. I knew I had to love it, right? That’s like a perfect recipe for ‘How to make Amber fall in love with a book’. But it really didn’t hit the mark for me. You can read my full rant on Ninth House here to see more of why this book was disappointing for me.

Find Me Andre Aciman book review

Title: Find Me
Author: Andre Aciman
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 260
Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo

I LOVE Call Me By Your Name. So, I was apprehensive about reading Find Me because some stories don’t need sequels. Call Me By Your Name was perfect in every way and I was okay with it ending where it did. When a sequel was announced I felt like it was just fan service after the success of the movie. I was right. I had low expectations for this book and I was still disappointed. Read my full review here.

The Year of the Witching Book Review

Title: The Year of the Witching
Author: Alexis Henderson
Release Date: July 21, 2020
Publisher: Ace
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo

I had high expectations for this book. Specifically, that I would be reading an ADULT fantasy novel. This read like a YA fantasy which is fine, but it wasn’t really how this book was marketed. So when I got YA tropes I was really disappointed. It also wasn’t as scary or witchy as I had hoped. Read the mini review here.

Samantha’s Surprising Reads

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Release Date: August 14, 2018
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Pages: 384
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

I read this book because people kept mentioning it. There really is no other reason. Oh! It’s set in the South, which I am always a sucker for. Anyways, I didn’t go into this book with high hopes or any hopes at all. Honestly, it was probably the best way to jump into it. I was blown away by the story and the writing. What an emotional rollercoaster! Please read this book. Please. I don’t know what else to say. Well, I did, read my FULL review here.

Title: Truth or Beard
Author: Penny Reid
Release Date: July 21st, 2015
Caped Publishing
Contemporary Romance
Pages: 390
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

I’ve said it a million times, so I’ll say it a million and one. When it comes to romance novels, my heart belongs to regency/historical romance. Contemporary was never on the table. That is, until recently. While 2020 was garbage, it did give me a ton of time to read. So, I decided to dabble in some contemporary romance. A lot were ok, but the Winston Brothers Series by Penny Reid hit it out of the park. I love this family SO much. It’s funny and full of shenanigans. You will never want it to end. I know I didn’t. Sigh. If only I could read this for the first time again. I only put the first book up above, but I wouldn’t have put the whole series if I could!

Samantha’s Disappointing Reads

The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald book cover

Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Release Date: 1925
Genre: Adult Fiction, Classic
Pages: 200
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Rating: Donate It

There was and is so much hype around this book. I don’t get it and probably never will. Maybe I didn’t read it at the right time in my life or something. I didn’t connect with any of the characters. In fact, I found them kind of annoying. The biggest problem with this book was probably my approach. I can admit that much. definitely went into this like it was homework. I had put off reading it for too long and felt like I was the only one in the world who hadn’t read it. For my FULL rant, click here.

Title: Bellman and Black
Author: Diane Setterfield
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Pages: 328
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

So, I went into this book with incredibly high hopes. Once upon a time I stumbled upon “The Thirteenth Tale” and just LOVED it — the writing, the mystery, everything. I was hoping this book would have some of the same magic. Well, it did, but it didn’t hit right. I enjoyed the characters, but the book focuses too much on this “Black” character. I don’t know, folks. It was good, but meh-good. You know what I mean?

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Release Date: August 2019
Gallery Books
Pages: 400
Buy: Indigo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Ok, this author appear everywhere. It feels like anywhere romance novels are mentioned they show up. So, obviously, I took this as a clear indication of how great their books are. Well, this was my first introduction and BLAH. I did not enjoy this. Lots of angst, which is fine. Fade to black, no thanks. You can’t build up all this sexual tension and then give me nothing. NOTHING. Ugh. I was so annoyed and disappointed. For those of you who are bigs fans of Christina Lauren, there is hope yet! I have since read Roomies and Josh and Hazel, both of which I really enjoyed. However, I will not continue from here. I’m not a big contemporary romance fan to begin with, and have decided to not waste anymore time with this author. Please forgive me!! BUT, don’t hesitate to recommend others!

What books most surprised or disappointed you in 2020?



6 thoughts on “Our 10 Most Surprising and Disappointing Reads of 2020

  1. Neil Gaiman never disappoints πŸ™‚ Also it was actually heartening to read Samantha’s rant / review about The Great Gatsby. I too am not really a huge fan. I found nearly all the characters to be problematic, deeply toxic and really failed to see the point of the plot. I still haven’t watched the movie thanks to that, even though I know Leo DiCaprio was actually nominated for an Oscar!


    1. I am heartened that you are heartened!! Your agreement has made my heart go pitter patter, unlike that darn book. I did watch the movie ONLY for Leo. Even with his lovely presence, the movie was lame. They tried to make it flashy and cool and I just shrugged saying, “meh.” Honestly, save yourself the time! Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I really wanted to like it, but the execution just didn’t do it for me. I liked the world it was built in, but the characters and writing style made it a big struggle for me. Honestly, if I ever had the heart to just DNF a book, I probably would have done that for this one. – Amber

      Liked by 1 person

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