January 2020 Must-Reads

Looking for your next great read? Here are 19 fast page-turners you should add to your book stacks this month! Read my book reviews and also get ideas for similar books to check out if you enjoy something from this list. There is a book for every kind of reader this month!


It’s time for my first book reviews of 2020 and, BOY, do I have quite the stack for you today! 

I did manage to meet my 2019 goal to read 100 books, but I BARELY squeaked them all in. The last two weeks of December found me curled up with a book almost nonstop to reach that goal.

Did that stop me from committing to another 100 for this year?

Of course not.

I’m no quitter! 

If you would like to take a look at my year of reading, you can check them all out over here. You can also see my top 20 books of 2019 which was incredibly hard to narrow down.

This really was such an incredible year of reading and I can’t wait to share another year of reading with you. 

Before I get to my reviews, here are some books that you can be snagging for February! 

Book of the Month Selections Announced!

Book of the Month February 2020

February Book of the Month Selections:

Anna K by Jenny Lee (Young Adult)

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré (Contemporary Fiction)

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (Suspense)

The Holdout by Graham Moore (Legal Thriller)

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Contemporary Fiction)

Book of the Month February Coupon Codeuse the code HEART to get your first box for $9.99. 


February Young Adult Book of the Month Selections:

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace (Fantasy)

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (Romance)

Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal (Fantasy)

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (Thriller)

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow (Sci-Fi)

Young Adult Book of the Month February Coupon Codeuse the code SWOON to get your first box for $9.99. 

By the way, did you know Prime members get a read for free every single month? The Kindle First Reads program is so much fun and a great way to sample a book before it hits the store shelves. Grab your FREE book over here. 


January 2020 Must-Reads

Here are 19 must-read books I tackled in January

Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Red at The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

This sparse read is beautifully written and I love how Woodson is able to take you on a journey with only 200 pages.

Told from alternating perspectives, Woodson seamlessly builds an intergenerational story that explores race, identity, and the differences between the decades. 

This is the second book I’ve read by this author and I recommend her writing for people who appreciate character development over plot development.  The characters really come alive in these pages and Woodson always amazes me with her words.

If you are looking for a powerful audiobook that doesn’t require a huge time commitment, I recommend this beauty for your virtual stack. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Red at the Bone, you might like these titles:

An American Marriage

My Sister the Serial Killer

Fruit of the Drunken Tree


Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is one of those books that you just can’t put down. 

Twelve-year-old Edward Adler is the sole survivor in a tragic plane crash. His aunt and uncle take him in and Edward has to figure out who he is without his brother and parents.

Luckily, he finds a wonderful friend, Shay, who is his new neighbor.

When they discover a bag of letters, addressed to him, he realizes that many of these passenger’s families have been writing to him for answers on those final moments.

As Edward battles the mental consequences of this trauma, he begins to find healing through replying to these letters. 

Lucky for him, he has a faithful sidekick (Shay) that helps encourage him through these difficult moments and wants to help Edward find closure and peace again.

Honestly, this coming-of-age story is just beautiful.

Alternating perspectives between the passengers and the crew really help the reader understand how this tragedy happened and what the passengers were feeling and thinking in those final moments.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Dear Edward, you might like these titles:

The One-in-a-Million Boy

In Sight of Stars

Tell Me Three Things


Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

(currently available for free on Prime)

I have been a big fan of Taylor Jenkins books ever since I read her very first novel. She writes authentic love stories that have so many beautiful layers and writes with an honesty that is, often, indescribable. 

This short story is told, in its entirety, through letters. 

For me, this is always risky business because I very rarely will connect with a story in a letter format. 

I should not have been worried though because Reid does an incredible job telling the story in this format. 

Not only do you get to read the love letters between the people having the extramarital affair, we also get to read the letters of the two spouses who have uncovered the affair.

The consequences of this happening are believable and gorgeously written.

This short story was, surprisingly, as satisfying as a longer book.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Evidence of the Affair, you might like these titles:

Life Drawing

All This Could Be Yours

After I Do

The Pasengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As we begin to really push the boundaries with technology, Marrs continues to dream up incredible science fiction plots that rival the best in those Black Mirrors episodes. 

The idea of a self-driving car is awfully appealing to me, but Marrs terrifies us by creating a world where the self-driving car is in full control of the passenger.

Say what? 

Eight cars have been equipped with camera equipment and they are told that they are driving towards certain death. Televising the ordeal, really drives home the point that people see these situations as completely delightful reality television.

Heck, even the passengers think it is a stunt.

Unfortunately, for them, it really isn’t. 

This science fiction thriller is twisty, fast paced, and the kind of book that you have to finish in a day.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Passengers, you might like these titles:


The Warehouse

The One

The Nickel BoysThe Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

This novel has been on just about every 2019 best books of the year list. Whitehead’s first book was so inventive and thought provoking that I could not wait to dig into this one.

This novel is based on the true story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and robbed children of their childhood innocence. 

Elwood is sent to, The Nickel Academy,  after he has allegedly stolen a car.  

He is sent to this reform school to help him become more disciplined and to pay for his crimes.

Unfortunately, Elwood quickly realizes that the punishments given don’t fit the crimes and Whitehead takes us along on the brutal journey with him. 

I listened to this one on audiobook and found myself needing to detach from the story because of the disturbing violence inflicted on these boys. 

It may have been a mistaken to rely on an audiobook for this one.

Whitehead’s novel jumps to different timelines and most of the second half left me confused because of the disjointed timeline. 

I will continue to read anything Whitehead writes. He is a powerful storyteller and I can’t wait to see what he teaches me next.

Want to learn more about the school this book was inspired by? Check out this piece.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Nickel Boys, you might like these titles:

The Book of Harlan

Girls Burn Brighter


Nothing More Dangerous

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

“You put enough like-minded idiots in a room, and pretty soon their backward way of thinking starts to take on an air of legitimacy.”

This coming-of-age story is set in the ’70’s and takes on the challenges of race and identity in some really beautiful ways. 

Boady lives in an all white neighborhood with his single mother. When a wealthy black family become their neighbors, they could never imagine what fast friendships they would have. 

A white supremacist group is really unhappy that a black man is in charge of the town’s manufacturing plant though.  This anger fuels and torments the family and anyone who might associate with them.

The entire story is layered within a disappearance of Lida Poe, who was the secretary at the town’s manufacturing plant. According to rumors, she left town along with a hundred thousand dollars of company money. As more about the white supremacist group becomes known, Boady begins to wonder if she really did commit this crime.

Boady begins trying to uncover clues and soon realizes that everything is not as it seems.

I couldn’t put this book down and highly recommend it if you are looking for a mystery to escape with.

This coming-of-age story would be perfect for a book club discussion and is the kind of read that really sticks with you.

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Nothing More Dangerous, you might like these titles:

Ordinary Grace

Where All Light Tends to Go

Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland (available for pre-order)

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Set in Atlantic City, in 1934, this gorgeous book captured my heart from page one. 

Florence has a plan to spend her summer training to swim the English Channel. A gifted swimmer, she is focused and determined to reach her goal.

When the family faces an unexpected tragedy though, they make a decision to protect their daughter (Fannie) from knowing the truth about what had happened.

The secrecy comes from a good place though because Fannie’s in the hospital to help her stay calm and quiet for the risky birth of their child. With numerous complications, the last thing that they want to do is to put Fannie into early labor.

The thing is, this secret is too big to keep, especially for Fannie’s young daughter. 

This book is so beautifully written that I was shocked that this was Beanland’s debut. 

I hung on every word of this story and think it would be amazing for a book club discussion.

My only regret is to tell you that this one won’t hit the shelves until July, but can assure you that this is the perfect historical fiction escape for summer. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Florence Adler Swims Forever, you might like these titles:

The Two-Family House

Saints for All Occasions

Manhattan Beach

The Poison Garden

The Poison Garden by A.J. Banner

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This  brisk thriller manages to weave in a lot of twists in just a couple of hundred pages. 

Elise’s life seems pretty perfect. She has a wonderful marriage, a stunning home, a beautiful garden, and she gets to do a job she loves every day. 

When she comes home early, to surprise her husband, she ends up makes a shocking discovery that she would have never guessed. This discovery ruins her idyllic world and she becomes increasingly paranoid that someone is out to get her. 

To make matters worse, she has been sleep walking and has woken up in some very strange places that lead her to believe that maybe she isn’t completely sane anymore.

I zoomed through this thriller. The reader has to suspend belief, at times, to achieve these twists, but it managed to hold my attention until the last page.

3 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Poison Garden, you might like these titles:

The Woman in the Window

A Stranger in the House

The Other Mrs.

This Won't End Well

This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagan (available for pre-order)

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of quirky characters and this book delivers with some laugh-out-loud moments. 

Annie Mercer has no desire to add any new people to her life. Despite her best efforts on a project, she is dismissed and loses her entire career in chemistry.

Not only that, her fiancé has decided that he needs space from her and heads to Paris to work it all out.

When Harper moves next door, she can’t help but become sucked into her story. Not only that, but a local detective, Mo, is trying to keep Harper safe and has decided to loop Annie in on the case. As the two begin working on Harper’s case, Annie begins to realize how important Mo is in her life.

Honestly, this was an adorable read and a light escape from the heavier reads. This was such a sweet story and had so many funny moments that I found myself reading portions out loud to my husband. Annie is such a fun character.

If you need a fun escape, be sure to pre-order this one! 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like This Won’t End Well,  you might like these titles:

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

How Not to Die Alone

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am such a sucker for a novel that has a dual narrative and this novel was one I loved and where I fell in love with both of these women’s stories.

When Alice moves to the New York suburbs, she finds a vintage cookbook in her basement, from the previous owner. As she struggles to fill her days in her new town, she begins cooking the dishes that Nellie Murdoch, the 1950’s housewife that had owned the book had cooked. It is within these pages that she begins to learn more and more about Nellie and realizes her life wasn’t as idyllic as it may seem.

When she stumbles on a stack of mysterious unsent letters to her mother, Alice can’t stop thinking about Nellie and begins to uncover more secrets about the difficult life that Nellie led. With the help of her next door neighbor, Alice learns more about Nellie’s true story.

The writing is captivating and I enjoyed each of the narratives equally.

This fast page-turner reminds us of how far we have come, as women, and just how much work we still need to do. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Recipe for a Perfect Wife you might like these titles:

Big Lies in a Small Town

The Perfume Collector

The Masterpiece


Followers by Megan Angelo

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Do you ever open a book and find yourself hooked from the very first page?  That was the case with this one. This futuristic book that was just as satisfying as any episode of Black Mirror

Orla is stuck in a job writing clickbait articles about movie-star hookups and about the latest influencers. 

When Orla meets Floss, someone striving to make it in this weird online world, they hatch a plan to launch them both into the high-profile lives they have always dreamt about.

Thirty-five years later, a woman named Marlow is discovering secrets about her own past. Despite her online popularity (with twelve million loyal followers) she dreams of escaping it all and regaining her own life and privacy. These discoveries, about her past, help give her the courage to run in search of the truth. 

I can’t rave enough about the depth of the plot on this one. As someone who lives a life online (on a very small scale), I found this plot far too relatable. 

This book is thought-provoking, wildly imaginative, and so beautifully imagined. I could not turn the pages fast enough and I have a good feeling you will feel the same way. 

Put this novel on the top of your stack and suggest this for your book clubs too!

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Followers you might like these titles:


The Passengers

The Grace Year

No Exit

No Exit by Taylor Adams

So many of our book club members have raved about this thriller so I had a good feeling I would love this book. Honestly, it turned out to be the PERFECT winter escape.

Four strangers find themselves stranded at a rest stop when a blizzard hits and forces everyone off the road. 

When Darby pulls over, she discovers that there is a kidnapped child in the back of someone’s van and she immediately suspects one of these strangers as the culprit. 

Determined to save the child, she involves one of the other people there to help her save the child.

What she doesn’t expect is how many people are involved and how intent they will be to stop her from saving the little girl. 

This dark thriller ended up being such a wild ride that had so many smart plot twists that, even this seasoned reader, could have never guessed.

If you are in a reading slump, this one should pull you right out of it! 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like No Exit you might like these titles:

The Chain

Pretty Girls

Then She Was Gone

The Idea of You

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

This steamy romance was SO DANG GOOD!

The concept of this one sounded a bit far fetched, but the story ended up being surprisingly thoughtful and meatier than I had expected.

Recently divorced, Solène runs an art gallery and is longing for a closer relationship with her tween daughter.

When she takes her to her favorite boy band’s concert, they attend a meet-and-greet after to meet the band. 

What she could have never expected was catching the eye of one of the boys in the band and their attraction is immediate and intoxicating.

They begin having a secret affair that complicates every element of her life- mortifying and breaking her daughter’s heart, being the source of scrutiny by the paparazzi, and creating complications within her work relationships.

Despite it all, she is head over heels in love with this man and is willing to do anything to keep this relationship.

Basically, it is One Direction fan fiction and an imagined relationship between a middle-aged woman and Harry Styles and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.

I also have a not-so-secret crush on Harry Styles so that *may* have made this read even better for me.

I tweeted the author to beg for a sequel and it seems, from her past tweets, that this just might be in the works. 

If you need a sexy book escape, read this one immediately! 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Idea of You, you might like these titles:

The Royal We


The Kiss Quotient

Big Lies in a Small Town

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Thank you to the publishing house for providing a review copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I will read anything that Diane Chamberlain writes so I was thrilled to be a recipient of her book and these gorgeous chocolates to celebrate her book launch. 

This dual narrative mystery is about a woman, named Morgan, who has been serving time for a drunk driving accident. 

She is surprised when she is offered the opportunity to not finish out her sentence, in exchange for restoring a post office mural for a gallery opening.

Morgan attended art school, but has no knowledge of art restoration. As she muddles her way through the piece, she begins uncovering a mural that has some very disturbing elements within it. 

The artist that made it has quite a story too and the reader discovers just why these elements are added. 

As the reader learns more about this story, Chamberlain expertly weaves these stories together in some really beautiful ways.

She’s quite the master at pulling narratives together, in a way that only a seasoned writer could achieve. 

This was another beautiful read from one of my favorite writers.

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like Big Lies in a Small Town you might like these titles:

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

The Lying Woods

Little Fires Everywhere

The Productivity ProjectThe Productivity Project by Chris Bailey

Each year, I like to start my year out with a book on productivity. 

I am also a sucker for books that devote a year to experimenting with technique and reporting results.

Chris Bailey turned down a lucrative job offer and devoted a year to trying all the productivity hacks and reports on if these techniques were successful or not.

From earlier morning start times, to giving up booze and caffeine,  to list-making, to time management strategies, Chris deep dives into different methods and shares his best takeaways and how they impacted his day-to-day routines.

I listened to this one on audiobook and really wished I had a paper copy so that I could highlight it. The audiobook was enjoyable to listen to, but the meat in this one would be working through these challenges by having a physical copy of the book. 

I, honestly, learned a lot about better list-making techniques, how to free up headspace for better productivity, and always need the reminders for better structure to my day.

If you need a little motivation in 2020, get this book! It is a gem!

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like The Productivity Project you might like these titles:

The Happiness Project

Atomic Habits


Lights All Night Long


Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick

This coming-of-age debut is gorgeous, haunting, and beautifully layered.

Fifteen-year-old Ilya arrives in Louisiana from his native Russia to study as an American exchange student. This should be a happy time for him, but his mind is completely consumed by the fate of his older brother, Vladimir.

Just before Ilya moved, his brother was sent to prison for the murders of three local young women. Although Vladimir was involved with drugs, he knows that his brother could never have murdered these women and he is determined to solve the case. 

With the help of his friend Sadie, he begins the mission of trying to prove his brother’s innocence. What he doesn’t expect though is that he will discover the lengths that Vladimir has gone to to protect him and secure his future in America.

I can’t rave enough about how beautiful this read is. This book is incredibly thought-provoking and the reader can’t help but wish for happiness for these two characters.

If this is Fitzpatrick’s debut, I can’t wait to read more from her. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like Lights All Night Long you might like these titles:

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

We Came Here to Forget

A River of Stars

Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I have been anticipating this buzz book for months and couldn’t wait to read it. 

This was, honestly, a disappointing read and left me wondering what I was supposed to get out of this story.

The plot sounded really promising. A rich white family hires a young black nanny to care for their daughter.  After an unexpected emergency happens,  they call the nanny to see if she can take their daughter out while they resolve it.

She takes the little girl to the grocery store and is approached by an employee because they think she has kidnapped the little girl. The incident is filmed, by another shopper, who offers to send it to her so she can take legal action.

The guy who records the incident asks her out and they  begin a relationship.  What she doesn’t know is how this man is linked to the family she works for. 

Instead of, what could be a thought-provoking discussion on race and privilege, each of these characters are written so outrageously that they seem like caricatures and end up being cringe-worthy stereotypes.  It, honestly, bordered on comedic because of how superficial each of them were. The plot started promising, but ended up being as shallow as these characters.

Overall, this one fell really flat, as most buzz books seem to do. I did flip the pages quickly, but the story didn’t yield the lessons I thought I would discover.

2 out of 5 Stars

If you like Such a Fun Age you might like these titles:


The Mothers

A Window Opens

American Predator

American Predator by Maureen Callahan

I have been on a true crime kick with my Netflix-watching so I thought it might be fun to add a couple of true crime books to my stack this month. 

If you are looking for a nonfiction book that reads like fiction, this is one of those unbelievable kinds of stories that you won’t be able to put down.

Israel Keyes is one of the most notorious serial killers of the 21st century, yet few of us even know his name. 

Callahan presents the chilling story of a man who had been killing people for years, but had never even been on anyone’s radar. When he is finally connected to a crime, Keyes admits that he has been living a double life for 14 years. 

On the same day, he could attend his child’s parent teacher conference and have murdered someone.

His ability to compartmentalize, his system for finding people to kill, and his ability to leave no trace behind kept his crimes hidden for years.

I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough in this one and highly recommend it if you are looking for a true crime book for your stack. 

5 out of 5 Stars

If you like American Predator you might like these titles:

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

The Stranger Beside Me

My Friend AnnaMy Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

This memoir has been on my radar ever since I read the story of Anna Delvey and heard that this would be coming to Netflix as a series (produced by Shonda Rhimes!!)

If you are unfamiliar with this story, Anna claimed to be a rich heiress and was leading a life of luxury that included living in a New York hotel, dining at the top restaurants, jetting off on luxury vacations, and working out with a celebrity trainer several times a week. 

After recruiting a few pals to go on a trip with her, the hotel seems “unable to process,” her credit card. Her best friend offers to put it on her card with Anna promising that she will pay her back.

The problem?

This girl is no heiress and she also has no intentions of paying her back.

The reader gets to follow along on Rachel’s nightmare of being unable to pay her own bills, daily requests pleading with Anna to give her the money back, and the creeping depression that sets in when she realizes that Anna has no intention of paying her back.

Rachel isn’t the only victim though and her case and documentation inevitably help Anna to be charged with a crime.

This is a fast page-turner and Rachel’s vulnerability feels real, raw, and relatable. 

4 out of 5 Stars

If you like My Friend Anna you might like these titles:

American Predator

Three Women

The Stranger Beside Me

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The Best Books of 2019 from MomAdvice.comcheck out my top 20 books of 2019

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January 2020 Must-Reads

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Published February 02, 2020 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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