Wednesday, December 16, 2020

2020 The Best in Books

One thing about 2020 is we had plenty of time to read.

As of this writing I am at 125 books for the year. I may cram in one more before the new year but I think I have enough to put together my top 10.

These are books I read in 2020 not necessarily books that were released in 2020.

With that said....

Number 10 is a bit of a cheat. It's the Arc of a Scythe trilogy.  I thought the first book looked good and I was just wanting something light to read before bed. I ended up finishing the trilogy in a week.  If you like the Hunger Games or the Maze Runner books, I think you will dig this

Amazon Decsription:  Scythe: In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ("gleaned") by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes' apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do. 

Thunderhead: The stakes are high in this chilling sci-fi thriller, in which professional scythes control who dies. Everything else is out of human control, managed by the Thunderhead. It's a perfect system – until it isn't.It’s been a year since Rowan went off-grid. Hunted by the Scythedom, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. Citra, meanwhile, is forging her path as Scythe Anastasia, gleaning with compassion.

The Toll: It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.In this pulse-pounding finale to Neal Shusterman's internationally bestselling trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.


Number 9: The Partner by John Grisham

Originally published in 1997 this book was part of my Grisham binge that started in 2019.  I had read everything up to the Client when I was in high school and a few stragglers after that.  Then for one reason or another last year I picked up one on a whim and I fell in love with his writing again. 

Amazon Description: They watched Danilo Silva for days before they finally grabbed him. He was living alone, a quiet life on a shady street in Brazil; a simple life in a modest home, certainly not one of luxury. Certainly no evidence of the fortune they thought he had stolen. He was much thinner and his face had been altered. He spoke a different language, and spoke it very well.But Danilo had a past with many chapters. Four years earlier he had been Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm. He had a pretty wife, a new daughter, and a bright future. Then one cold winter night Patrick was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death. When he was buried his casket held nothing more than his ashes.From a short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial. Then he fled. Six weeks later, a fortune was stolen from his ex-law firm's offshore account. And Patrick fled some more. But they found him.

Number 8: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Published in March of 2020 I came across this book on Audible and downloaded it to keep me company on some walks in the park when Quarantine started.  I ended up hooked and ripped through the book in a few days rather than the week or two I had planned. It reminded me of the book You by Caroline Kepnes

Amazon Description: Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife. 

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.

Number 7: A Killers Wife by Victor Methos

Published in March of 2020 this was another book I just picked up on a whim to read before bed.  I ended up getting it in audible too so I could switch between listening and reading when I was driving. It's the beginning of a series and a pretty good start. It does have a good conclusion though if you aren't looking for a new series but would like to read a good mystery thriller. I think you'll get hooked though. I know I did. I even preordered the next one

Amazon Description: Fourteen years ago, prosecutor Jessica Yardley’s husband went to prison for a series of brutal murders. She’s finally created a life with her daughter and is a well-respected attorney. She’s moving on. But when a new rash of homicides has her ex-husband, Eddie, written all over them—the nightmares of her past come back to life.

The FBI asks Jessica to get involved in the hunt for this copycat killer—which means visiting her ex and collaborating with the man who tore her life apart.

As the copycat’s motives become clearer, the new life Jessica created for herself gets darker. She must ask herself who she can trust and if she’s capable of stopping the killer—a man whose every crime is a bloody valentine from a twisted mastermind she’s afraid she may never escape.

Number 6: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly

Released in November this was something I had been waiting for.  I have read all of the Lincoln Lawyer books and I keep an eye on when a new one is coming out. The Mickey Haller series is part court room drama part thriller and always a good time.

Amazon Description:On the night he celebrates a big win, defense attorney Mickey Haller is pulled over by police, who find the body of a former client in the trunk of his Lincoln. Haller is immediately charged with murder but can’t post the exorbitant $5 million bail slapped on him by a vindictive judge.

Mickey elects to represent himself and is forced to mount his defense from his jail cell in the Twin Towers Correctional Center in downtown Los Angeles. All the while he needs to look over his shoulder—as an officer of the court he is an instant target, and he makes few friends when he reveals a corruption plot within the jail.
But the bigger plot is the one against him. Haller knows he’s been framed, whether by a new enemy or an old one. As his trusted team, including his half-brother, Harry Bosch, investigates, Haller must use all his skills in the courtroom to counter the damning evidence against him.
Even if he can obtain a not-guilty verdict, Mickey understands that it won’t be enough. In order to be truly exonerated, he must find out who really committed the murder and why. That is the law of innocence.
In his highest stakes case yet, the Lincoln Lawyer fights for his life and proves again why he is “a worthy colleague of Atticus Finch... in the front of the pack in the legal thriller game”

Number 5: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston

Originally published in 2016 I hadn't even thought of reading this book until Ahsoka made her appearance on the Mandalorian episode 5. I knew of the character and knew some of her back story but never cared to really look at her.  Episode 5, the Jedi however and the hype leading up to it got me to check out this book and I am glad I did.  I haven't read a Star Wars book in about 20 years and this was a heck of a place to start. This bridges the gap between Clone Wars animated series and her appearance in Rebels.

Amazon Description: Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance….

Number 4: Defending Jacob by William Landay

What a ride! Published in 2013 I purchased this book after watching the Apple+ series of the same name earlier this year. That show was incredibly compelling and I binged it in a day.  I wanted to read the source material and see the differences for myself.  The ending of the book is a bit different from the series. Seemed a little more definitive and I loved it.  

Amazon Description: Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney for two decades. He is respected. Admired in the courtroom. Happy at home with the loves of his life: his wife, Laurie, and their teenage son, Jacob. Then Andy’s quiet suburb is stunned by a shocking crime: a young boy stabbed to death in a leafy park. And an even greater shock: The accused is Andy’s own son—shy, awkward, mysterious Jacob.

Andy believes in Jacob’s innocence. Any parent would. But the pressure mounts. Damning evidence. Doubt. A faltering marriage. The neighbors’ contempt. A murder trial that threatens to obliterate Andy’s family. It is the ultimate test for any parent: How far would you go to protect your child? It is a test of devotion. A test of how well a parent can know a child. For Andy Barber, a man with an iron will and a dark secret, it is a test of guilt and innocence in the deepest sense.

How far would you go?

Number 3: The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child

Published in October of 2020. I love the Jack Reacher series. I love the books, the short stories, the movies and I am busting at the seams for the upcoming Amazon series.
This was one of my favorite in the series. I have to admit when Lee Child announced he was retiring I was crushed. When it came out that the Reacher series was being handed off to Lee's younger brother Andrew I was nervous. Turns out my trepidation was unwarranted. This is the first book that Andrew Child worked with Lee on and I think we are in good hands.

Amazon Description: As always, Reacher has no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there. One morning he ends up in a town near Pleasantville, Tennessee.

But there’s nothing pleasant about the place.

In broad daylight Reacher spots a hapless soul walking into an ambush. “It was four against one” . . . so Reacher intervenes, with his own trademark brand of conflict resolution.

The man he saves is Rusty Rutherford, an unassuming IT manager, recently fired after a cyberattack locked up the town’s data, records, information . . . and secrets. Rutherford wants to stay put, look innocent, and clear his name.

Reacher is intrigued. There’s more to the story. The bad guys who jumped Rutherford are part of something serious and deadly, involving a conspiracy, a cover-up, and murder—all centered on a mousy little guy in a coffee-stained shirt who has no idea what he’s up against.

Rule one: if you don’t know the trouble you’re in, keep Reacher by your side.

Number 2: Christine by Stephen King

Originally published in 1983 I had heard of this book and knew of the movie for most of my life.  I just avoided it because I didn't see how a haunted car could be scary at all.
Earlier in the year I watched the movie because I was on a John Carpenter kick and that was one of the few movies he had directed that I had not watched.
I loved it. Turned out to be one of my new favorite movies. The direction, the set design the soundtrack and of course the the car kept me absolutely riveted from beginning to end.
I loved it so much that I put off reading the book because I didn't think it could possibly be as much fun. I was wrong. The book was infinitely better than the movie and became my favorite Stephen King book of all time. So much so I ordered a hardback copy for my shelf. 

Amazon Description: Evil is alive in Libertyville. It inhabits a custom-painted red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine and young Arnold Cunningham, who buys it.

Along with Arnold’s girlfriend, Leigh Cabot, Dennis Guilder attempts to find out the real truth behind Christine and finds more than he bargained for: from murder to suicide, there’s a peculiar feeling that surrounds Christine—she gets revenge on anyone standing in her path.

Can Dennis save Arnold from the wrath of Christine? This #1 national bestseller is “Vintage Stephen King…breathtaking…awesome. Carries such momentum the reader must force himself to slow down” 

Number 1: Ready Player 2 by Ernest Cline

Published on the 24th of November I bought this book and devoured it in about a day.
 I didn't know if the second book could live up to the first.  I was not disappointed at all.  I've read some harsh reviews online of this book and I couldn't disagree more.  Originally I was concerned that it was just a cash grab by Cline and I concede it still might be but its worth it for sure.

Amazon Description: The highly anticipated sequel to the beloved worldwide best seller Ready Player One, the near-future adventure that inspired the blockbuster Steven Spielberg film. 

An unexpected quest. Two worlds at stake. Are you ready? 

Days after winning OASIS founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. 

Hidden within Halliday’s vaults, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the OASIS 1,000 times more wondrous - and addictive - than even Wade dreamed possible.

With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest - a last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize.

And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who’ll kill millions to get what he wants.

Wade’s life and the future of the OASIS are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.

Lovingly nostalgic and wildly original as only Ernest Cline could conceive it, Ready Player Two takes us on another imaginative, fun, action-packed adventure through his beloved virtual universe, and jolts us thrillingly into the future once again.

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