In 2021, I plan to post daily as opposed to every weekday. Because of this, I’ve been brainstorming more post ideas. I decided to include more roundup style posts on my blog. Today, I’m sharing my most popular posts for the season of Fall 2020. In order to schedule posts ahead, I have decided to define the season by months rather than dates, to these posts were published on or between September 1 and November 30, 2020.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you click on and/or purchase from some links, I make a portion of the sale. This helps keep Bitch Bookshelf running.

10. The Golden Van Dorens by Nicole Strycharz Review

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I really enjoyed this one, though it took me a little bit to read as I didn’t really get into it too quickly. But once I got through the beginning and the characters’ motives became clear, I was hooked. There are a lot of sensitive topics in this one that not all readers will enjoy, but they were handled well, and the author’s note and afterward provide further context. All in all, this was a 4 star read. My thanks to the author, publisher, and Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours for giving me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

9. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover Review

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I waffled back and forth between 4 and 5 stars for this one. When I shut this book, I was happy with the ending but still felt so much anger on behalf of multiple characters. But then I realized that this was all due to Colleen Hoover’s expert penmanship. She really pulled me in and made me love these characters as if they were real people, so this had to earn a 5 star rating.

8. Know My Name by Chanel Miller Review

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Know My Name is a truly remarkable book. Chanel Miller, the woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner, reflects on her experience – that night, the next morning, the trial, and beyond. This is a graphic, raw, and honest telling of her experience, followed up by the viral 12 page statement she made to Turner which was published on BuzzFeed. As a victim myself, I found this book to be empowering and relatable.

7. The History of England by Jane Austen Review

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Is this on par with Austen’s other works? No, but she was a teenager when she wrote it. It’s fun and short, so if you’re an Austen super-fan, it’s worth the read. It was 4 stars for me.

6. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker Review

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Why We Sleep is a longy but a goody. There’s a lot of information packed into this book. The book is broken down into four main parts: “This thing called sleep” – about sleep patterns, what sleep is, and who sleeps; “Why should you sleep?” – the benefits of sleep, sleep deprivation and the brain, and sleep deprivation and the body; “How and why we dream” – REM, dreaming as therapy, and dream creativity and control; and “From sleeping pills to society transformed” – sleep disorders and death from no sleep, what stops us from sleeping, sleeping pills and therapy, sleep and society, and the future of sleep technology.

5. Happy Book Birthday to Daughters of the Wild by Natalka Burian

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Daughters of the Wild is an utterly absorbing debut that explores the female mind in captivity and the ways in which both nature and women fight domination. Like The Bell Jar set in rural Appalachia, Daughters of the Wild introduces a fierce new heroine and a striking new voice in fiction. – summary taken from Amazon

4. Flirtation and Folly by Elizabeth Rasche Review

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This was a really fun read that reminded me of a classic romance. Lovers of the genre who prefer proper romances to steamy ones (or, like me, enjoy proper romance too) will adore this one. As the romance is more of a subplot to story of Marianne really discovering herself, I think even non-romance readers will like Flirtation and Folly. My thanks to the publisher, author, and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest 5 star review.

3. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas Review

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The representation of Latinx, trans, and gay characters as well as youth experiencing homelessness in this YA novel is so important. I also loved that we never see anyone bully Yadriel or any of the other characters, though it’s evident that they have experienced poor treatment in the past. I think the representation of Yadriel’s dad and some other family members not fully understanding or embracing Yadriel and his gender/sexuality is realistic. These characters are not outright cruel to Yadriel, but have hurt him nonetheless.

Finally, I loved the author’s stylistic choice in the Spanish text. Usually in a book written in English with Spanish-speaking characters, we see Spanish in italics to differentiate. A translation is often provided, too. The characters in this book are bilingual and switch in and out of Spanish (though a majority of the dialogue is in English). Even as someone whose Spanish is limited, it made for seamless reading. I don’t think this should deter folks who don’t speak Spanish, as contextually they should be able to figure out what characters are talking about. My favorite quote from this book was:

Hay niñas con pene, niños con vulva y transfóbicos sin dientes. / There are girls with a penis, boys with a vulva, and transphobes without teeth.

2. Top Ten Tuesday: Books for My Younger Self

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This week’s topic is books for my younger self. This could mean “books you wish you had read as a child, books younger you could have really learned something from, books that meshed with your hobbies/interests, books that could have helped you go through events/changes in your life” or something else that fits the prompt. I decided to focus on children’s books I’ve read in the past two years that, had they been around in my childhood, I think I could have benefited from reading or would have enjoyed.

1. The Bachelor Duke by Cecilia Rene Review

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What I really liked about The Bachelor Duke was that it was mostly a happy story. In the very last fifty pages, there’s a climactic, dramatic arc, but most of the story is about the blissful romance between Remington and Livie. Remington has his guard up about marriage due to a troubled past, but he quickly moves past his hesitations when he falls in love with Livie. There are many romantic and a few steamy scenes between the two, and I liked that for the most part, their story was a positive one. So often in romance novels, there’s a lot of angst. I liked that this one was mostly low on the inner turmoil and heavy on the love story!

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