2020 Hidden Gems Book Tournament

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson is our Hidden Gems Book Tournament Champion

16 books. 4 rounds. 1 champion. Our librarians picked out their top Hidden Gems of 2020 - all the best books that you might have missed this year - and we pitted them against each other in a head-to-head tournament, with the winners in each round picked by popular vote by you on our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. After over 4 weeks of voting, you picked The Year of the Witching, a dark fantasy debut recommended by Cody. 

In the god-fearing town of Bethel, Immanuelle, an outcast, does her best to keep the status quo. Until she enters the forbidden Darkwood where the spirits of four powerful witches reside. Gifting her with her dead mother’s journal, Immanuelle learns of impending dangers to her town and must decide if she will embrace her past and attempt to reform her community even if it costs her her life.

Check our all of our mini-reviews, then click on the Booklist link below to download or place a hold on the under-the-radar gems you want to read. Thanks to everyone who voted!

Timeline & Reviews

Leonard and Hungry Paul (Ronan Hession) vs. Chosen Ones (Veronica Roth)

Leonard and Hungry Paul: In this charming debut, we meet two thirty-something men who are still living at home, while trying to find their place in the world. Leonard and Hungry Paul is a quiet, gentle tale about friendship and self-discovery. A wonderful novel that’s a balm to the soul.

Chosen Ones: Veronica Roth’s first Adult novel. It combines magic and fantasy with superheroes and a touch of political commentary. It is addictive story of magic, power, imagination and inescapable trauma. It is a page turner you cannot put down as it keeps you guessing with its twists and turns and a wild conclusion.

Dear Justyce (Nic Stone) vs. The Advice Trap (Michael Bungay Stanier)

Dear Justyce: A must-read YA sequel to the New York Times #1 bestseller Dear Martin. Like Justyce who wrote letters to Martin Luther King, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system. Visceral and raw. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas.

The Advice Trap: Have you noticed how your well-intentioned advice is often ignored, though you know how much their lives would improve if they would just listen? That's the Advice Trap, and in this clear and easy-to-read book, you'll learn how to ask the right questions and actually listen to the answers so you can talk less and help with the real problem. Tame your Advice Monster permanently and become a better leader and probably a better friend!

The Sight of You (Holly Miller) vs. The Year of the Witching (Alexis Henderson)

The Sight of You: Joel and Callie’s love story is heartbreaking and life affirming, complete with prophetic dreams and finding the courage to love, despite the very real possibility of a less than happily-ever-after. A stunning American debut novel for fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Light We Lost.

The Year of the Witching: In the god-fearing town of Bethel, Immanuelle, an outcast, does her best to keep the status quo. Until she enters the forbidden Darkwood where the spirits of four powerful witches reside. Gifting her with her dead mother’s journal, Immanuelle learns of impending dangers to her town and must decide if she will embrace her past and attempt to reform her community even if it costs her her life.

His & Hers (Alice Feeney) vs. Agency (William Gibson)

His & Hers: A cunning psychological thriller with a foul murder, suspects galore, a taut plot with dizzying twist and turns which will keep you guessing till the very end.

Agency: Time travel, alternate realities and a terrifying potential use of artificial intelligence. Gibson combines of all these narratives to explore a world in which technology has the ability to go back in time to alter our present.

Conjure Women (Afia Atakora) vs. The Space Between Worlds (Micaiah Johnson)

Conjure Women: Set on a plantation in the South, this book brings to life the world before and after the Civil War through the voices of three unforgettable women. When midwife Rue delivers a baby that the town thinks is cursed, suspicions mount and tensions rise. Magnificently written. Perfect for historical fiction fans!

The Space Between Worlds: Imagine the multiverse is real and that there are 380 worlds similar to our own. Imagine being able to travel to those worlds, if the version of you on that world is dead. Cara can travel to all but 8 of these worlds. After discovering one of her other selves has been murdered mysteriously, secrets about herself and the multiverse itself start to unravel.

Almond (Wŏn-p'yŏng Sohn) vs. The Woman Before Wallis (Bryn Turnbull)

Almond: A story of a teenager born with a brain condition that makes it difficult to feel emotions. It is a touching story about love, friendship, persistence and making a difference with the support of others. Almond is Korean author Won-pyung Sohn’s debut novel.

The Woman Before Wallis: A great book for readers of historical fiction. A novel full of scandalous parties, high society drama and royal scandals.

Grown (Tiffany D. Jackson) vs. Agatha Arch is Afraid of Everything (Kristin Bair)

Grown: An intense, thought-provoking page turner. This YA mystery thriller is inspired by the allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct by R. Kelly, and has heavy themes of grooming, sexual assault, and emotional manipulation that rising stars often face in the music industry.

Agatha Arch is Afraid of Everything: Quirky, warmly touching, with a strong feel-good factor, this light-hearted book will have you chuckling and rooting for a timorous, anxious heroine who must face her fears head-on to reshape her life.

Act Like a Lady (Keltie Knight) vs. Destination Wedding (Diksha Basu)

Act Like a Lady: Have a little fun with the members of LadyGang as they offer up raw, witty and sometimes sound advice on how to be a lady in this mad, fast world of the 21st century. Drawing from their own epic failures in dating, to lessons learned on how to be unapologetically female, this not-so-politically-correct advice will have you in stitches, and though you may you cringe at the bracing language, you may also find yourself reexamining your own ideas on how to Act Like a Lady.

Destination Wedding: Leaving her problems behind in New York, Tina Das heads on a weeklong trip to Delhi for a lavish and dramatic family wedding. Warm, charming and wickedly funny, Destination Wedding explores family, belonging and how home is not always a place but people. Fans of Crazy Rich Asians will fall in love with this ensemble cast.

Chosen Ones (Veronica Roth) vs. Dear Justyce (Nic Stone)

Chosen Ones: Veronica Roth’s first Adult novel. It combines magic and fantasy with superheroes and a touch of political commentary. It is addictive story of magic, power, imagination and inescapable trauma. It is a page turner you cannot put down as it keeps you guessing with its twists and turns and a wild conclusion.

Dear Justyce: A must-read YA sequel to the New York Times #1 bestseller Dear Martin. Like Justyce who wrote letters to Martin Luther King, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system. Visceral and raw. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas.

The Year of the Witching (Alexis Henderson) vs. Agency (William Gibson)

The Year of the Witching: In the god-fearing town of Bethel, Immanuelle, an outcast, does her best to keep the status quo. Until she enters the forbidden Darkwood where the spirits of four powerful witches reside. Gifting her with her dead mother’s journal, Immanuelle learns of impending dangers to her town and must decide if she will embrace her past and attempt to reform her community even if it costs her her life.

Agency: Time travel, alternate realities and a terrifying potential use of artificial intelligence. Gibson combines of all these narratives to explore a world in which technology has the ability to go back in time to alter our present.

The Space Between Worlds (Micaiah Johnson) vs. The Woman Before Wallis (Bryn Turnbull)

The Space Between Worlds: Imagine the multiverse is real and that there are 380 worlds similar to our own. Imagine being able to travel to those worlds, if the version of you on that world is dead. Cara can travel to all but 8 of these worlds. After discovering one of her other selves has been murdered mysteriously, secrets about herself and the multiverse itself start to unravel.

The Woman Before Wallis: A great book for readers of historical fiction. A novel full of scandalous parties, high society drama and royal scandals.

Grown (Tiffany D. Jackson) vs. Act Like a Lady (Keltie Knight)

Grown: An intense, thought-provoking page turner. This YA mystery thriller is inspired by the allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct by R. Kelly, and has heavy themes of grooming, sexual assault, and emotional manipulation that rising stars often face in the music industry.

Act Like a Lady: Have a little fun with the members of LadyGang as they offer up raw, witty and sometimes sound advice on how to be a lady in this mad, fast world of the 21st century. Drawing from their own epic failures in dating, to lessons learned on how to be unapologetically female, this not-so-politically-correct advice will have you in stitches, and though you may you cringe at the bracing language, you may also find yourself reexamining your own ideas on how to Act Like a Lady.

Dear Justyce (Nic Stone) vs. The Year of the Witching (Alexis Henderson) 

Dear Justyce: A must-read YA sequel to the New York Times #1 bestseller Dear Martin. Like Justyce who wrote letters to Martin Luther King, incarcerated teen Quan writes letters to Justyce about his experiences in the American juvenile justice system. Visceral and raw. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Angie Thomas.

The Year of the Witching: In the god-fearing town of Bethel, Immanuelle, an outcast, does her best to keep the status quo. Until she enters the forbidden Darkwood where the spirits of four powerful witches reside. Gifting her with her dead mother’s journal, Immanuelle learns of impending dangers to her town and must decide if she will embrace her past and attempt to reform her community even if it costs her her life.

The Woman Before Wallis vs. Act Like a Lady (Keltie Knight)

The Woman Before Wallis: A great book for readers of historical fiction. A novel full of scandalous parties, high society drama and royal scandals.

Act Like a Lady: Have a little fun with the members of LadyGang as they offer up raw, witty and sometimes sound advice on how to be a lady in this mad, fast world of the 21st century. Drawing from their own epic failures in dating, to lessons learned on how to be unapologetically female, this not-so-politically-correct advice will have you in stitches, and though you may you cringe at the bracing language, you may also find yourself reexamining your own ideas on how to Act Like a Lady.

 

The Year of the Witching (Alexis Henderson) vs. Act Like a Lady (Keltie Knight)

The Year of the Witching: In the god-fearing town of Bethel, Immanuelle, an outcast, does her best to keep the status quo. Until she enters the forbidden Darkwood where the spirits of four powerful witches reside. Gifting her with her dead mother’s journal, Immanuelle learns of impending dangers to her town and must decide if she will embrace her past and attempt to reform her community even if it costs her her life.

Act Like a Lady: Have a little fun with the members of LadyGang as they offer up raw, witty and sometimes sound advice on how to be a lady in this mad, fast world of the 21st century. Drawing from their own epic failures in dating, to lessons learned on how to be unapologetically female, this not-so-politically-correct advice will have you in stitches, and though you may you cringe at the bracing language, you may also find yourself reexamining your own ideas on how to Act Like a Lady.

2020 Hidden Gems Book Tournament Booklist: Place a hold for pick-up or download the ebooks/eaudiobooks

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