Lyssa Kay Adams

Dynamite Review Best of 2020

This was a unique year. Books were plentiful, movies were not, and I dedicated myself to one game. So in some ways it was easy to make my lists this year. In other ways it wasn’t.

Movies

I have ten movies to list but the ones at the end weren’t necessarily movies I loved, but they were movies I enjoyed.

  1. Hamilton on Disney+ – I have re-watched this movie so many times. Years ago when everyone was into the soundtrack I could never get into it. The visual made all the difference. I love it.
  2. The Old Guard on Netflix– The first time I watched The Old Guard I thought it was a good generic action movie. With each re-watch, and there have been a few, I love it more. It’s almost everything I’ve ever asked for in an action movie. I hope they’re able to make a sequel.
  3. Bill and Ted Face the Music – This was the movie I needed in 2020. It was so hopeful and fun. When it came out I streamed it with friends and when we finished I felt so happy. It wasn’t amazing, but it was definitely something I needed.
  4. Jingle Jangle on Netflix – This was such an amazing Christmas musical. The songs were great, the story was heartwarming, and oh my god those costumes.
  5. Enola Holmes on Netflix – This was a fun watch. Enola was an entertaining character and I enjoyed seeing her make her way in the world.
  6. Birds of Prey – The one bright spot in the DCEU. Seriously, the only DC movie I like after Wonder Woman 1984 retroactively ruined any goodwill I had for Wonder Woman.
  7. Happiest Season on Hulu – Another Christmas movie but one that I connected with on several levels. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true so I’m leaving it.
  8. A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting on Netflix – This was another Netflix movie that I hope ends up birthing a new franchise. It was one of those rare movies that my kids and I both enjoyed.
  9. Sonic the Hedgehog – How did this end up being such a better movie than Detective Pikachu?
  10. The Babysitter: Killer Queen on Netflix – I had no idea this was a sequel and despite my extreme dislike of horror movies I plan on watching the first one. It was so ridiculous and over the top that I found it difficult to ever be too scared to continue.

Books

I tried to read all the books in 2020 that I was interested in. I failed. Epically. If I was to wait until I’d read them all this list wouldn’t come out until the middle of next year. Still, I read a LOT and there were several that I loved. I’m going to include one book that didn’t come out this year that I read for the first time because I enjoyed it that much.

  1. Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews– Is there every going to be a list without an Ilona Andrews book? I hope not.
  2. The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan– My historical romance reading this year was off the charts and this was my favorite.
  3. The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler– I laughed so much while reading this book and the sequel was just as good.
  4. How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole – The first book in the new Alyssa Cole series and it was easily just as good as the Reluctant Royals series.
  5. The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk– Wow I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did but it is one that stuck with me even after I finished reading.
  6. Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams– This series is one of my best finds of 2020. It’s so much fun and I love the premise.
  7. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix – After being disappointed by the last Garth Nix book I read I was so excited after I read this one. It reminded me why I consider him to be one of my favorite authors.
  8. When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare– This is the older book I’m including on my list. This entire series was excellent, but this book in particular was highly entertaining. It was a sexy romantic comedy.
  9. The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde – Ughhh this book was so good. Even better after the recent events in the US.
  10. Snapped by Alexa Martin – I’m not a fan of football, but this series has been one I’ve enjoyed reading. I thought Martin did a good job in Snapped handling a very difficult issue.

TV Shows

Like with books I had a lot of TV Shows I re-watched. It was the year of finding comfort wherever I could. I’ve tried to keep this list to just 2020 seasons, but in cases where there were older seasons I often re-watched the entire series.

  1. Brooklyn 99 on NBC – Easily one of my all-time favorite TV shows, it’s a miracle I didn’t re-watch this more than once last year.
  2. Bridgerton on Netflix – Please, please, please Netflix make this entire series!!
  3. Julie and the Phantoms on Netflix – The music was great and completely overshadowed the teenage angst for me.
  4. The Good Place – I legitimately forgot this ended this year. I loved the ending. I thought there was no way it could live up to the rest of the show and it did.
  5. The Babysitter’s Club on Netflix – This was apparently the year of babysitters, I believe this is the third one to end up in this post. I loved the book series and I was so happy to see how they modernized it.
  6. The Mandalorian on Disney+ – This season was so much better than the first and I enjoyed the first. There were several great episodes and they better get Mando back with baby Yoda.
  7. The Umbrella Academy on Netflix – Five, Aidan Gallagher, is such an amazing actor. I can easily see him as an old man. The story this season was better than last season and I’m glad the family seems to have gotten back together. After that cliffhanger ending I’m eagerly waiting for the next season.
  8. Sex Education on Netflix – Last year was just too long of a year. Shows came out that I enjoyed that I forgot came out. This was one of them. Every time I watch Sex Education I’m surprised at how much I enjoy it.
  9. Doctor Who on BBC America – I’m enjoying the new Doctor and companions so much, though, honestly I barely remember this season.
  10. Guys Grocery Games on Hulu – This was one of my biggest comfort watches of 2020. This beat out The Great British Baking Show to be my favorite cooking show of the year. It’s fun and yummy.

Video Games

Did games that weren’t Animal Crossing come out in 2020? I couldn’t scrape together ten games that I played and liked this year. I play most games on the PC through steam, but included links to Amazon versions. So here is my abbreviated list.

  1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Nintendo – I played hundreds of hours of Animal Crossing in 2020. I’d play an ungodly amount, take a break, then come back and play an ungodly amount again. I’m currently taking a break, but I’ll be back, there’s no question.
  2. Hades by Supergiant Games – Holy shit this game was so unexpectedly amazing. The voice cast was phenomenal. The art style was beautiful. The game play was fun. I knew nothing about Hades until all my friends started playing it and I am so freaking glad I went out on a limb and bought it.
  3. Stardew Valley by ConcernedApe– Technically this game didn’t come out in 2020, however it had a pretty big update so I’m including it. The update got be back into the game and it’s currently replaced Animal Crossing in my obsessive playing.
  4. No Man’s Sky by Hello Games– Another game that didn’t technically come out in 2020, but it had several updates. It’s crazy to think back to when this game first released and compare it to now. They’ve added so much. It’s one of those games that I love to go back to again and again.
  5. My Time at Portia by Pathea – Yeah, yeah, I know it didn’t come out in 2020 either. I filled my time before Animal Crossing came out playing it though.
  6. The Sims 4 by EA Games – The Sims 4 had two Expansion Packs that came out this year. I wasn’t a fan of Eco Lifestyle and haven’t played Snowy Escape yet. However, I needed another game for the list and it’s one I played a fair amount of earlier in the year.
  7. Two Point Hospital by Two Point Studios – I mean, there was DLC released this year so…I’m including it.
  8. Civilization VI by Firaxis – Just deal with it.

Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #3)

Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #3)

By: Lyssa Kay Adams

Blurb:

Alexis Carlisle and her cat café, ToeBeans, have shot to fame after she came forward as a victim of a celebrity chef’s sexual harassment. When a new customer approaches to confide in her, the last thing Alexis expects is for the woman to claim they’re sisters. Unsure what to do, Alexis turns to the only man she trusts—her best friend, Noah Logan.
 
Computer genius Noah left his rebellious teenage hacker past behind to become a computer security expert. Now he only uses his old skills for the right cause. But Noah’s got a secret: He’s madly in love with Alexis. When she asks for his help, he wonders if the timing will ever be right to confess his crush. 
 
Noah’s pals in The Bromance Book Club are more than willing to share their beloved “manuals” to help him go from bud to boyfriend. But he must decide if telling the truth is worth risking the best friendship he’s ever had.

Review:

Alexis is a survivor of sexual assault. You met her in a previous book when she came forward to accuse her celebrity boss of the assault. This is about a year or so later, and she’s come a long way. During this time, she’s made a best friend in Noah. They were able to bond over their geeky hobbies and the fact that they both lost a parent young.

Pretty much since the beginning of their relationship, Noah has had a crush on Alexis, but he doesn’t want to destroy the relationship they already have to pursue something more. She is the best friend he’s ever had. They’re almost codependent, and it feels like they’re already in a romantic relationship without the sex.

In the beginning, he’s not a member of the Bromance Book Club, but he’s friends with several of the members and always hanging out with them. They spend most of their time with him trying to get him to join so he can get out of the friend zone. There were several good moments with the book club that I enjoyed. Listening to them explain toxic masculinity and push to form healthier relationships with each other were some of the book’s best parts. By far, my favorite scene was when they were at the spa. I laughed soooooooo hard.

The big conflict in the book was Alexis’ family drama.

BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD

Alexis was raised by a single mom and never knew her dad. She didn’t feel like she needed to know him, even though there was a part of her that wanted a family. One day a woman comes into her café and tells Alexis that she’s her sister. Then the real bombshell, their father is dying, and he needs a kidney. I knew as soon as this happened, Alexis was going to give him the kidney. The man did not deserve it. He’d known about her for three years and hadn’t attempted to reach out. He’d sent flowers when Alexis’ mom had died, but that was it. Now he was asking for a kidney. The rest of the family wasn’t any better. The sister was weird, and the brother was a dick. That plotline was the worst part of the book, and I’m taking away a whole star because of it.

I could never be a romance heroine because there is no way I’m giving a long lost relative a vital organ. Other people in my life have first dibs on that shit. Alexis was nice and was supposed to learn to stand up for herself, and she kind of did, but not in something as huge as organ donation. It was disappointing, but I’m petty. If you aren’t, you might not care.

Alexis and Noah were a cute couple, but there was a lot of angst since there was no getting to know you period. I liked seeing the other members of the book club, but there were a few things that I didn’t like about Crazy Stupid Bromance. However, the spa scene alone is worth reading the book for.

3.75

Side note: The geeky references were clearly written by someone who knew some of nerd culture, but not enough to make the type of references that were made. There was always something just a bit off, not in a way that can be pawned off on a creative license. There weren’t many of them, so it didn’t hurt the book’s quality. It was just something I noticed.

2020 Goodreads Choice Award Nominations

Today starts the nomination process for the Goodreads Choice Awards. I try to participate every year, but like most years, I haven’t read most of the books initially nominated. For those new to the awards to be nominated, the book has to be published this year. Goodreads uses their algorithms to come up with fifteen books in the twenty categories to start the process off. Considering some of the books nominated don’t come out until this month, I’m not sure how fair their algorithms are.

Each year I discover books I’ve overlooked or never heard of, but I also get incredibly frustrated. How am I supposed to take all the books I’ve read and narrow them down to the categories provided?? There’s only one romance category?? There’s no Juvenile Non-Fiction category?? There’s a sci-fi category, a fantasy category, a young adult fantasy category, but no young adult sci-fi category?? How am I supposed to vote when I still haven’t read all of the books from this year?? Why is this being held now when there are still almost two months left in the year?????

It’s too much!

So, I’m just going to post my favorite books of 2020, so far, here. None of them have been nominated, but the best part of the awards is that you can select them yourself. So if you too liked these books, then please head over to Goodreads and do your duty.

First, The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde. I nominated this one under the fiction category, though it could probably go under the humor category as well. It was a fantastic satire novel that called out racism using absurd creativity.

I’ve got two historical romances, and I wish I could nominate both. The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite and The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan. Waspish Widows is the story of two older women who fall in love in a time when women didn’t even have the right to vote. The Duke Who Didn’t had a hero and heroine fall in love despite their incredibly different backgrounds. The backdrop was a small village in England that was predominantly people of Asian descent. Plus, there was a lot of good food mentioned.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams, Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey, and The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler were the contemporary romances that I wanted to nominate. Undercover Bromance is the second book in a series that I fell in love with earlier this year. The concept of a book group of men reading romance novels is one I love. Love Her or Lose Her made me realize I was missing out on an entire trope of married couples learning to fall back in love with each other. I absolutely loved the sweetness and humor in The Tourist Attraction.

Five romances, and I can only nominate one. It’s horrible. I ended up going with The Duke Who Didn’t because, well, it came down to the food. Lol It was really close, though. The Tourist Trap nearly edged it out for the coveted top spot. If only there were historical and contemporary romance categories.

The science fiction and fantasy categories were easier. The only five-star fantasy book that I’ve read this year was Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews. I did think about nominating N.K. Jemisin’s  The City We Became, I liked it, but I liked Emerald Blaze better. Jemisin’s book was one of the fifteen nominated by Goodreads, so she will probably make it to the next round. If Andrew’s book doesn’t make it will make my next vote easier.

At first, I didn’t think I had a science fiction pick. Not only have I not read many this year, but I haven’t rated the ones I did read highly. I’m trying only to nominate books I rated five stars. I’ve started reading Christopher Paolini’s To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, but there’s no way I’ll finish it in time. So I decided to go with Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews. Yes, it’s another Ilona Andrews book, but they’re my favorite authors.

Last, but certainly not least, is my non-fiction selection. I’ve slacked on non-fiction this year. I could not concentrate like I need to to read non-fiction. So I ended up nominating This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell. It’s a juvenile non-fiction book, so I don’t believe it stands a chance, but it was an excellent book. It clearly explained the issues for young people as well as adults with limited knowledge of the issues.

There are many categories where I didn’t nominate any books, which always bugs me. I don’t have enough time to read everything I want to unfortunately. I’m curious what books everyone else will be voting for, and I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead. Even though I know most of the books I love, if not all, will not win their much-deserved awards.

2020 Review So Far

First off, I’ve been reading a lot in 2020. It’s been an absolute shit year, for everyone, everywhere, and one of my major comforts was reading. My Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal was 60 books. I’m currently sitting at 79. I’m not going to go back and review everything I’ve read, but I’m going to list my favorite of the year so far, and I’m going to try to review all the books from here on out.

 

2020 Favorite Books So Far (in no particular order)

Castles Ever After

  • Castles Ever After series by Tessa Dare. I like this series and absolutely love books one and three. They made me laugh. The characters were great, and I really enjoyed the story. The final book was a crossover with her Spindle Cove series and didn’t have much to do with a castle, but it was still good. (I wasn’t much of a fan of the rest of the Spindle Cove books, which was a bit of a bummer). I’m enjoying going back and reading Tessa Dare’s back catalog.

Turner Courtney Milan

  • Turner series by Courtney Milan. For a time, there was a box set available of the entire series, and I was able to snatch it up for a fantastic price. I’m a huge Courtney Milan fan, and I was super happy to be able to get this entire series. I wasn’t as much of a fan of the second book, but the others in the series were very entertaining.

Girl Meets Duke

  • Girl Meets Duke series by Tessa Dare. This series is ongoing, but there are currently three books out. A seamstress, a governess, and a wallflower all find love. They do it on their terms too, which I enjoy. They’re all at least a tiny bit odd and are able to find men who accept them. It’s lovely.

Bromance Book Club

  • Bromance Book Club series by Lyssa Kay Adams. I absolutely love the idea of this series. A group of high power men get together to figure out how to make their women happy. The first book is about a baseball player whose marriage is on the rocks, so a friend reaches out and invites him to join the book club. It’s all men and they read romance novels to help them figure out what women want since they can’t seem to figure it out. I love it. The second book is out, and I enjoyed it as well. I am looking forward to the rest of this series.

Love Her or Lose Her

  • Love her of Lose Her by Tessa Bailey. I wasn’t as big a fan of the first book in the series. I found the heroine a bit odd and un-relatable, but I thought the second was excellent. It’s once again about a married couple on the rocks (I had no idea I would enjoy this trope) and how they fall back in love.

The Right Swipe

  • The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. There’s a woman in tech dealing with all the misogyny in that sector. A pro football player that stands up against the NFL for their disregard for the health and safety of their players. I loved it.

 

I have a long list of books to read. I’m also hoping to finally tackle my ever growing stack of non-fiction books, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m reading a lot of romance books because I find comfort in them. That’s what my reading has been all year, comfort. I’ve re-read most of Ilona Andrews catalog because of that.

I need something with a happily ever after, where the world isn’t always dark, and people aren’t always dying. If you have any recommendations I’m open to them.

Good luck to everyone surviving the rest of the year.