Best Fiction Books of 2020

In a recent post on Facebook, communication pathologist, cognitive neuroscientist, and author of her new book 101 Ways to Be Less Stressed, Dr. Caroline Leaf shared how when she had her private practice, she would always ‘prescribe’ her patients to read more fiction and the results were amazing.

According to medical studies, reading helps improve your mood and your mental health and as I’m sure you’ll agree – 2020 has been quite the year – it’s been the perfect time to read more fiction!!

With the help of many in our Nuts About Books review program, we curated the 10 Best Fiction Books of 2020 for you.

All of these fabulous titles will be given away to one happy reader, see the contest below.

Set the Stars Alight, Amanda Dykes

Set the Stars Alight

In an aged brick cottage in London, the magic of the past comes alive each night for the family of a humble watchmaker. In her father’s fireside stories, Lucy Claremont’s fascination with the high seas begins, leading her to devote her life’s work to discovering the whereabouts of a legendary lost ship. But when tragedy strikes, it’s childhood friend Dashel and his knowledge of the stars that may help her solve the puzzle.

Two hundred years earlier, three young lives are altered forever when a shepherd rescues the privileged son of a powerful admiral. As the children grow, war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, deep love, and a story of betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption that fades into obscurity as centuries pass.

As Lucy and Dash explore mysterious ruins on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers–and the healing–they so desperately seek.

This was our MOST loved Fiction title of 2020. Our reviewers raved about it!

A Review by Liz Mannegren

This was a book that I didn’t want to end. The cover is as enchanting and dreamy as the novel within. The characters are real and heartfelt, ones that you can root for and love. And the narrative speaks to an incredibly gifted storyteller. Set the Stars Alight has well-earned a permanent place on my bookshelf and for that, I will heartily recommend to all.

I’m giving this one, five absolutely gorgeous stars.

More reviews of this book can be read at Joyfully Yours, Allison Lynn, & This Blog is Epic

Buy Now: Set the Stars Alight on Amazon

The following 3 Fiction Books were Ellen Graf-Martin’s picks for 2020:

The Shepherd’s Wife, Angela Hunt

The Shepherd's Wife

Can she discover the purpose of the life she’s been given?

Yeshua of Nazareth has two sisters: Damaris, married to a wealthy merchant’s son, and Pheodora, wed to a simple shepherd from Bethlehem. Damaris can’t understand why her younger sister settled for such a poor existence, but she does what she can to share her abundance. When her husband is invited to join the Pharisees, she is excited by the opportunity to elevate the family’s status, even though some aspects of the lifestyle seem contrary to what she has always been taught.

Pheodora has long felt inadequate compared to her beautiful sister but has no regrets about the life she chose. When Pheodora’s husband is unexpectedly thrown into debtors’ prison, she is shocked to learn that a loan from her generous sister would jeopardize her brother-in-law’s religious aspirations. Forced to pin her hopes on two she-goats whose spotless white offspring could be sold for an upcoming Yom Kippur sacrifice, Pheodora must struggle to keep the animals–and her family–alive.

Buy Now: The Shepherd’s Wife on Amazon

 

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus, Jamie Jo Wright

The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus

Welcome to Bonaventure Circus, where misfits go to hide.

In 1928, the Bonaventure Circus has become a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby and is no longer content to leave the reason for that rejection unquestioned. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Decades later, an old circus train depot’s future hangs in the balance–it will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its fate rests on Realtor Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

Buy Now: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus on Amazon

 

The Right Kind of Fool, Sarah Lourdin Thomas

The Right Kind of Fool

Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he’d obeyed his mother. Desperate for help, he runs to the mountain cabin of his mostly absentee father, frantically trying to communicate the news with his hands.

Driven away by fear and guilt over his son’s deafness, Creed has played a distant part in Loyal’s life and language. But when he’s pulled into the murder investigation, he discovers that what sets his son apart isn’t his inability to hear but rather his courage. As the impact of the murder ripples through their West Virginia town, both will learn what it took to kill a man and what it takes to become one.

Buy Now: The Right Kind of Fool on Amazon

 

A Haven for Her Heart, Susan Anne Mason

A Haven for Her Heart

Upon her release from a woman’s reformatory in 1941 Toronto, Olivia Rosetti wants nothing more than to forget the horrors of her time there and return to normal. But with her family unwilling to forgive and employers wary of hiring her, she quickly ends up desperate and homeless–until a chance encounter with well-to-do widow Ruth Bennington. The two discover they share a painful history and together decide to open a maternity home for troubled women.

Greek widower Darius Reed is determined to protect his daughter from the prejudice that killed her mother and hopes to marry into a prominent Toronto family. But when his employer orders him to persuade Ruth Bennington to sell them her property, Darius soon becomes conflicted over his feelings about the home and his attraction to Olivia.

Despite finding fulfilment in her work, Olivia must fight not only bitter memories and the community’s negative reaction to their mission, but also feelings for the man who is trying to close her home. Can love prove stronger than prejudice and societal pressures, or will past mistakes destroy her chance at true happiness?

A Review by Working Mommy Journal

I loved every moment of this book, I didn’t want it to end (to be honest I would love to read a second installment!). Olivia’s character is raw, honest and real. We feel her pain, her insecurity but also her fighting spirit, compassion and love. Not only is this a well told story but it encourages you to do your own digging into the way women were treated during this time period. You feel outrage and want to know more (and why is this never taught to us?). A Haven for Her Heart is a definite must read novel.

Buy Now: A Haven for Her Heart on Amazon 

 

More Than We Remember, Christina Suzann Nelson

More than We Remember

One night changes everything. . . .

When Addison Kilbourn’s husband is involved in a car accident that leaves a woman dead, her perfectly constructed life crumbles apart. With her husband’s memory of that night gone and the revelation of a potentially life-altering secret, Addison has to reevaluate all she thought she knew.

Emilia Cruz is a deputy bearing a heavy burden far beyond the weight of her job. After a traumatic brain injury, her husband is no longer the man she married, and Emilia’s determined to prevent others from facing the same hardship. When she’s called to the scene of an accident pointing to everything she’s fighting against, she’s determined to see justice for those wronged.

Brianne Demanno is hiding from reality. She once thrived as a counselor, but when tragedy struck a beloved client, she lost faith in herself and her purpose. When her neighbors, the Kilbourns, are thrown into crisis, Brianne’s solitary life is disrupted and she finds herself needed in a way she hasn’t been for too long.

As the lives of these women intersect, they can no longer dwell in the memory of who they’ve been. Can they rise from the wreck of the worst moments of their lives to become who they were meant to be?

A Review by A Novel Undertaking

What an incredible book! Christina Suzann Nelson has penned an emotionally charged inspirational story supported by a complex and engaging set of characters. I don’t say this very often, but the characters in this story were written in such a way that they seemed very real as they navigate a myriad of difficult real-life situations, including family trauma, relationship struggles, and spiritual doubts. Each character deals with her “Job” moments in different ways, ranging from “running away”, standing up and fighting, or protecting others facing similar situations. More Than We Remember peels back the layers and depths of human emotion in crisis, leaving the cast of characters raw, humble, and relatable to the reader’s eyes. I felt the characters’ pain and inwardly cheered them on in their struggles.

The storyline itself was incredibly engaging with the constant unveiling of secrets and plot line twists. It was SO difficult to put this story down – so much so that my husband teased me on more than one occasion about my nose being buried in the book again?!

More Than We Remember is a story I will not soon forget.

Buy Now: More Than We Remember on Amazon

 

Love and a Little White Lie, Tammy L Gray

Love and a Little White Lie

There’s a lot of irony in hitting rock bottom

After a heartbreak leaves her reeling, January Sanders is open to anything–including moving into a cabin on her aunt’s wedding-venue property and accepting a temporary position at her aunt’s church despite being a lifelong skeptic of faith. Choosing to keep her doubts to herself, she’s determined to give her all to supporting Grace Community’s overworked staff while helping herself move on.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting the church’s handsome and charming guitarist. It’s a match set for disaster, and yet January has no ability to stay away, even if it means pretending to have faith in a God she doesn’t believe in.

Only this time, keeping her secret isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. Especially when she’s constantly running into her aunt’s landscape architect, who seems to know everything about her past-and-present sins and makes no apologies about pushing her to deal with feelings she’d rather keep buried.

Torn between two worlds that can’t coexist, can January find the healing that’s eluded her, or will her resistance to the truth ruin any chance of happiness?

A Review by A Novel Undertaking

This novel read like a really great chick flick – and I mean that in the highest form of praise! A great chick flick is one that you watch over and over even after you have learned all the lines. And no matter how many times you watch the movie, you still laugh at the same hilarious scenes and cry ugly tears at the sad moments. In reading Love and a Little White Lie, I laughed and giggled my way through the story as the witty dialogue kept me in stitches. This isn’t just a comedy of a story, however. There were plenty of sigh-worthy, emotional moments as well. I love seeing the characters grow and develop, thereby adding an even greater richness to the story.

If this were a movie, I would place it proudly on my “classics” shelf alongside “Pride and Prejudice”, “Ever After”, “Nicholas Nickleby”, and “A Walk to Remember”. But as it is a novel, it is destined to become dog-eared one day as it takes its spot in my “to be read over and over again” bookcase. It is just that good.

Buy Now: Love and a Little White Lie on Amazon

 

Star of Persia, Jill Eileen Smith

Star of Persia

Love. Duty. Fear. Courage. In the court of the king, which will prevail?

In an effort to complete a war his father had planned to win, King Xerxes calls every governor, satrap, and official in his vast kingdom to his palace in Susa to strategize and feast. When they finally leave, he decides on one more week of frivolity, which ends in the banishment of his favorite wife, something he never intended to do. But when he discovers Esther, Xerxes is sure he has a second chance at happiness.

In her wildest dreams, Esther could never have imagined that she would end up as queen of Persia. Yet she knows better than to become complacent. Another of Xerxes’ wives is vying for position, and his closest advisor has a deep and dangerous grudge against Esther’s adoptive father. Caught in the middle of palace politics, Esther will find herself in an impossible position: risk her life or consign her people to annihilation.

A Review by Prairie Sky Book Reviews

I am always impressed by Jill Eileen Smith’s talent in creating compelling, vivid, and truth-based Biblical Fiction stories. Her newest release from Revell Publishers is my very favorite of all her books so far. . . “Star of Persia: Esther’s Story” is a beautiful, heart-wrenching, inspiring story that intrigued me with the first page, and held my imagination captive right until the end.

Buy Now: Star of Persia on Amazon

 

At Love’s Command, Karen Witemeyer

At Loves Command

He’s fought through ruthless outlaws and injury. But with her, he’s tempted to surrender.

Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger’s Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they’re the ones in need of saving.

Dr. Josephine Burkett is used to men taking one look at her skirts and discounting her medical skills. What she’s not used to is having a man change his mind in a heartbeat and offer to assist her in surgery. Matthew’s dedication to his friend during recovery earns Josephine’s respect, and when her brother is abducted, he becomes her only hope for rescue.

When plans go awry and Josephine is caught in the crossfire, Matthew may have to sacrifice everything–even his team–to save her.

A Review by Prairie Sky Book Reviews

If you love western adventures, clean romances, and stories that will tug at your heartstrings, look no further than “At Love’s Command”.

One of the biggest reasons I love Ms. Witemeyer’s books so much is because she brings western romance to life like no other. Packed with a hearty mixture of outlaws and romance, gunfights and the anomaly of a woman doctor in the 1890s, this book truly spans the spectrum of emotions! As always, the writing is stellar and the characters seem to be living and breathing people with histories and hopes that we can all relate to in some way.

Buy Now: At Love’s Command on Amazon

 

A Life Once Dreamed, Rachel Fordham

A Life Once Dreamed

Where you come from matters far less than where you’re going

Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory. In the shadow of the Black Hills, she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid–despite being only twenty-four. But the past has a way of catching up with people.

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie’s pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves–but he is precisely the one person who can never know.

Can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can’t seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?

A Review by Kindred Spirits and Everyday Fairytales

While the romance one expects from this genre was definitely front and center, Fordham also took the time to explore other more serious issues. Illness, fire, child loss, class divide, and illegitimacy are all touched upon in varying degrees. The handling always feels gentle (honestly the whole book including the epilogue does to a point but after the way 2020’s been I kind of need/like that) which did leave me wishing for more depth at times but I overall I felt that Fordham stayed true to he writing style and the story’s feel.

Buy Now: A Life Once Dreamed on Amazon

Enter to Win!

To enter to win the Best of Fiction 2020 prize pack (which includes one paperback copy of each of the books mentioned above), follow the instructions precisely. The contest is open to residents of Canada only and ends December 5th at 12:00am ET.

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