Here's the list of books I read in 2020 (excluding manga). Surprisingly I didn't read as many books as I'd thought given what happened this year. Nevertheless, it was still considered a good reading year judging by the writing quality and my overall reading experience. I'll also be posting my top ten reads in a few days' time and truth be told, I'm still in the midst of compiling the list (not always an easy decision to decide which books to make it on the list but at least I'm having fun!)
(Credit: Clipart Library)

Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger 

Exit by Belinda Bauer
Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle
Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle
The Best of Friends by Lucinda Berry

来自何方 (上) by 晨羽
来自何方 (下) by 晨羽
The Open House by Sam Carrington 
Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien
Egg Drop Dead by Vivien Chien
The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben 
Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite

Well Met by Jen DeLuca
The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

House of Correction by Nicci French 
The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman
The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths
This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin 
Newcomer by Keigo Higashino

IQ by Joe Ide
Righteous by Joe Ide

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson 
Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell 

Heart's Blood by Alice Von Kannon
The Deep by Alma Katsu
Relish by Lucy Knisley

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
The Housewarming by S. E. Lynes
瘦长人 by 笭菁 (Urban legend series)
八尺大人 by 笭菁 (Urban legend series)
禁后 by 笭菁 (Urban legend series) 
与你相爱的抉择 by 琉影

The Choice by Gillian McAllister
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik
Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Little Bones by N V Peacock
Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough

My Darling by Amanda Robson
I Can't Sleep by J.E. Rowney
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager 
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
Never Turn Back by Christopher Swann
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

最坏的幸福 by 屠火火
The Betrayal by Terry Lynn Thomas 
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Final Cut by S.J. Watson
In the Dark by Loreth Anne White
The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White
The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White 
The Man I Married by Elena Wilkes

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Dutton | 30 June 2020 | 400 pgs
Source: Library 

"Every house has a story to tell and a secret to share.

I'm a huge fan of Riley Sager's books and I've to say each of his book has a different feel and vibes and you would never know what you'll be anticipating until you crack open that book and immerse yourself in the story. This book is no exception. I've thought that Final Girls is my favourite Sager book but it looks like this book has taken over that slot. 

The book opens with our protagonist, Maggie Holt, returning to Baneberry Hall after she's inherited the rambling Victorian estate after her father passed. As an interior designer, Maggie is set to restore the house but what really drives her to it is the history and finding out what happened that had had she and her parents fleeing in the dead of night twenty-five years ago. Maggie knew she could always refer to her late father's phenomenal book, House of Horrors, in which he'd recounted his tale of ghostly experiences living in Baneberry Hall but she also knew half of them was either lies or she'd no recollections of the events that had happened considering she was only five.

As Maggie returns to Baneberry Hall to begin the restoration, she is intrigued to find the old estate is filled with relics and old antiques of the past but what chills her to the bone is learning of the murder committed by the estate's predecessor, Curtis Carver. But that is not all, Maggie also begins to experience the strange occurrences as mentioned in House of Horrors and like her, the reader will start questioning if she's reliving her childhood fears or if there's indeed some dark secrets lingering behind. 

Reading this book was a delightful treat not only it's Riley Sager's but it's a combination of a ghost story and mystery. But what most appealing is the reader get to read House of Horrors alongside the story so you get two POVs and a double dose of intensity and suspense. And then there's the atmospheric Baneberry Hall and its history, the predecessors who stayed there (especially the first owner, William Garson, who built the estate in 1875, and the mystery surrounding his daughter, Indigo) and why no one seemed to stay long. This story plays with your mind and lead you into wondering if paranormal activities are at work in Baneberry Hall, or are they simply unreliable narratives? Or perhaps, both? I don't wish to indulge more so now it's your turn to find out. 

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St. Martin's Publishing Group | 25 February 2020 | 320 pgs
Source: Library 

In this 5th installment of Vivien Chien's Noodle Shop Mystery series, Lana Lee's first-ever catering event becomes a nightmare after a domestic worker is found dead at the party hostess's apartment. Before this tragedy happened, someone witnessed Donna Feng, the hostess, yelled at the domestic worker for failing to supervise her children so naturally she becomes a prime suspect. But Lana Lee is sceptical especially after Donna entrusted something to her before the police arrives - a thumb drive shaped like a terra-cotta soldier. Is Donna keeping some deadly secrets? Surely there's something more than meets the eye and Lana is keen to find out the truth. 

It's always a pleasure to read the developments of the characters as the series go and I'm glad to see Lana's sleuthing skills is getting better although she tends to be impulsive at times. While her detective boyfriend, Adam Trudeau, is not mainly in-charge of this case this time around, it is good to see Adam is still supportive of Lana's little investigations every time when there's a case. It is also always interesting to read about Lana's interactions and the dynamic with her mother and elder sister. One might think that they aren't really going along well but I think it's their own way of expressing themselves or in other words, firm in speech but soft in heart. 

I rarely read cozy mysteries but this is one which I follow as I enjoyed the characterisations and of course the food related elements is another draw to me. I'd recommend this series if you're looking for a fun and light read. 

Book Series In Order:

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G.P. Putnam's Sons | 18 August 2020 | 416 pgs
Source: Purchased 

(This review contains some spoilers of the first book, Wicked Fox.)

In Kat Cho's previous novel, Wicked Fox, she introduced us the mythology of gumihos and their mystical world set in modern Seoul. This is the companion/sequel of WF and it continues the story of Miyoung and Jihoon but features a new set of characters and mythological creature (Dokkaebi) and a few supernatural entities. 

As this book begins, Miyoung and Jihoon are deeply affected by the death of their mother and grandmother respectively. The loss of their loved ones and what they'd experienced have seemed to take its toll on them, leaving them in despair and unmotivated. Miyoung suffers the most considering her fox bead is no longer with her and this leads her to becoming weaker as the day goes. 

Lee Somin and Junu are the protagonists of this book but they're also friends of Miyoung and Jihoon. Junu appeared in WF before but his scenes are minimal. He's a dokkaebi (goblin) and while he didn't really leave a deep impression on me in WF, he certainly has grown on me in this one the more I learned about him and his backstory. In fact, his backstory and his banters and romance with Somin took up half of this story while the other half was finding a solution to right the balance between the realms of the living and the dead after what took place at the end of WF and the outcome has caused a tear between these two realms, thus causing the supernatural entities to roam the living world and create havoc. Junu knew what he has to do with his unsettled past and to right all the wrongs, but the jeoseung saja (grim reaper) gives him little time and he's to make a huge decision eventually. 

Kat Cho has wowed me with this enthralling duology featuring the world of a few Korean mythological creatures and not to mention a cast of intriguing characters whom I'd grown to love during my reading journey. I liked reading about the friendship amongst these characters and learning more about their strengths and weaknesses through the experiences and challenges they'd faced and I've to say Junu stands out the most among all in my opinion. He's flawed and carried the most emotional baggage but despite the vulnerability in him, he also showed us the humane side despite of what he was as a dokkaebi. I was so sad to see the end of this duology and I really hope Kat Cho will continue writing some more of this mythological world in the near future. 

Finally, I want to thank Lark for reading this duology with me for our buddy reads. Go check out Lark's blog for her review and here's my answers to her questions: 

1. From the gumiho to ghosts to reapers and goblins, Kat Cho includes a lot of Korean mythology in this book. What supernatural aspects did you like best?
All the mythological creatures fascinate me but I've to say gumiho is the most intriguing among all. Gumihos are known for their longevity and their shape shifting power and I think they're beautiful from some aspect. 

2. If you had to pick, which one of the four main characters would you most want to be like? And which one would you want as your best friend? Why?
I liked Somin's feistiness and loyalty so these traits are definitely what I most admired about her. And she makes a great friend, too. She's not afraid of what other people think of her and she's always there for her friends, be it for moral support or a listening ear. 
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Century | 6 August 2020 | 416 pgs
Source: Library 
Saffyre Maddox was ten when a traumatic experience led her into self-harming. Now at seventeen, she'd spent three years seeing child psychologist, Roan Fours, who has later cut short their sessions after he deemed her "perfectly fine" despite her uncertainties. Feeling abandoned and not ready to let go of their therapist-patient relationship, Saffyre decides to watch and follow him secretly and through her observations she's found something more about him and his family. Saffyre is a character whom you'd sympathise with due to her lonely life and her pent-up emotions but fortunately she has an uncle who cares a lot about her although she chose to act happy and carefree in front of him. 

On the other end, 33-year-old Owen Pick is a Computer Science teacher who lives in his aunt's spare bedroom. His aunt, Tessa, doesn't think highly of him and their relationship is lukewarm to say the least. Truth be told, Owen is simply a quiet man who does his job diligently and hoping to find a girlfriend and settle down like other people, but his sometimes odd and awkward vibes often give people the wrong impression and thus he is cast as an oddball and a social misfit. His world is then turned upside down when two girls in school accused him for sexual misconduct. Suspended from his job, he uses the free time to find related accusations online and this leads him to Bryn's blog and his dark world of "incel" (in other words, involuntary celibates). 

Saffyre and Owen may be two different persons but their world collide after an incident on Valentine's night. It is also that night that Saffyre disappears and Owen becomes the person of interest considering he's the last person to see her alive. What transpired that night and what happened to Saffyre is the core of this story but Lisa Jewell has executed this suspense story well through her writing style and the intricate plot which had held my attention throughout. But that's not all, Lisa has also added a few underlying themes such as abuse, sexual assault, mental health which reflect what our current society is facing today as well as misunderstood perceptions and how people are often quick to judge others at first glance. Despite some revolting issues, I think this book will work great for a group discussion.
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