So…. The last time I blogged, it was June. Yep, June. But with the catastrophic mess that this year has been—for a variety of reasons—I figure I’m allowed some breathing space here. Let’s jump into the actual post. See what I’ve been up to at the bottom!
This year I’ve read some excellent books, and I wanted to showcase some the ones I loved the most!
This is a longer blog post—even though I tried my hardest to narrow down my list of favorites for this year…there were just too many wonderful books to not include.
To clarify, these aren’t my favorite books published in 2020, just ones that I’ve read this year. I’ve been a little bit behind with books that were published in 2018/19, so I’ve been catching up. This list doesn’t include those books (or their direct sequels) mentioned in one of my previous posts HERE or The House of Salt and Sorrow, which I blogged about a handful of months back (…February, god, was it really that long ago?) HERE. So if you’ve read this list & want more recommendations, check out that post for book details/more thoughts, because they are incredible. I debated including them for this list as well, as this is technically a wrap-up of my favorites of this year; I just didn’t want to be overly repetitive for this list.
But in case you don’t view the post, I’ll very quickly list them: Girls of Paper and Fire, The Tethered Mage, Spin the Dawn, Children of Blood and Bone, Unearthed, Kingdom of Souls, Whisper, Sky in the Deep, An Enchantment of Ravens.
(side note, I’ve been wanting to do more mini reviews, a bit like what I did for The House of Salt and Sorrow. Good idea?)
FYI, the title/authors are linked to their respective GoodReads page, and there’s a variety of links to their online bookstores. 🙂
Best Books I’ve Read in 2020
Adult, Historical Fantasy
History, magic, action, and romance—I think there’s a little bit of everything for someone in THE CITY OF BRASS. Based off Middle Eastern culture and folklore/mythology, I loved the seamless blend of history and magic, fact and magic, I’m eager to dive into the second in the trilogy.
Young Adult, Contemporary
“Unputdownable,” is honestly the best way to describe this book, from the tightly written prose to the ever-engaging storyline to the complex, intriguing characters… yeah, this was definitely the kind of “just one more chapter,” book, with an ending that will have you reaching for the sequel. Which, unfortunately for us, isn’t out yet, but you get where I’m coming from: I loved this book.
Young Adult, Science-Fiction
If there’s one writing duo I just know I’m going to love, then it’s Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Seriously. I’ve loved everything they’ve done, and I know I’m bound to love their future work (both together and individually!) as well. A lovable cast of characters, a cool sci-fi setting (pls, YA, more sci-fi!) and plot and a writing style I devoured, I’m verrryyy eager to get my hands on the sequel, Aurora Burning (out now.)
Young Adult, Fairytale-esque Fantasy
I mean, what can I say about Holly Black that you don’t already know? If I crave a Faerie book, Holly Black is almost always the author I’ll go for. The Queen of Nothing was an incredible finish to an ambitious trilogy, and I absolutely love Jude and Cardan’s dynamic. More of that, done this well, please.
Adult, Historical Mythology
I…don’t have the words to do this book justice. Truly, I don’t. All I’ll say that if you love Greek culture/mythology, gorgeous writing, and an unforgettable story, you absolutely must read this book. (and if you haven’t already read it, The Song of Achilles was just as good.)
Young Adult, Fantasy
Crow. Riders. Yes, you totally read that one right. This book had one of my favorite concepts I’d seen in a while, and from start to finish, I was entranced. Excellent writing, characters, and a world that sucked me in from the first page, I really, really loved it. More giant animals, please, YA. It’s also worth mentioning the thoughtful, and very real-feeling, depiction of depression (often a rarity in fantasy), as the protagonist tackles with all that happened to her family, to her people…and the crows.
Young Adult, Political Fantasy
Gosh, these books. Exceptional from the get-go, these books are politically intricate and entirely engaging throughout (fun fact: I literally read the sequel in an evening.) Brienna is an intelligent, headstrong protagonist, and I loved Cartier’s additional POV in the sequel. Both books sort of reminded me of a YA version of The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso, but with a little less of a magical element. So, if you’re a fan of either, check the other out!
I’m looking forward to reading the author’s latest release, Sisters of Sword and Song sometime soon.
Ohhh man, these books must be one of my favorites epic fantasies that I’ve read in…a long time. Complex, intriguing, and VAST, these books are excellent, especially if you’re looking for a female voice in a genre typically dominated by men. I’m reluctant to say too much about these books, because I don’t have the vocabulary to capture the scope, ambition, and thought that obviously went into writing these books. They also feature a footnotes system which I really loved: it added flair and style to an already excellent story, without being overbearing or “too much”. The Memory of Souls released fairly recently, and I cannot wait to sink my claws into it.
Young Adult, Fantasy
The first thing I noticed about this book was the lyrical prose. Then the curiously magical world. Then the characters, with the protagonist’s growth and arc growing stronger by the page. By the book’s end I was thoroughly entranced, and that ending (!!!) promises a wickedly delightful sequel to come.
Young Adult, Contemporary
I know what you’re thinking: this is only one of two contemporary novels on this list. I must admit I haven’t read many this year, and I lean more toward fantasy, but when I read the blurb of this book, I knew I had to pick it up. But guys, this book. It made my nerdy, geeky heart sing. Save for reading, gaming is one of my biggest interests, so when there’s book featuring gaming, you know I’m bound to love it. DON’T READ THE COMMENTS was heartfelt, with lovable characters, and well-written, and you can bet your ass I grinned at the Mass Effect* references. Gaming references aside, if you enjoy a good, well-written contemporary, I absolutely recommend this one.
*(DID YOU ALL SEE THAT TGA TRAILER!? LIARA?!)
Young Adult, Fantasy
Last, but obviously not least, is Serpent & Dove. Wickedly witchy, it’s not hard to see how this book seems to have spelled its way into so many readers’ hearts. The protagonist is a delight, the story is captivating, and I think I finished this book in one day, two sittings (and, guys, it’s not a small book.) Blood & Honey—which released a couple of months ago, I believe—is, fingers crossed, one of the first books I’ll pick up next year.
End of Year Wrap-Up
I won’t lament too much about the lost potential of the year that is 2020 for many reasons, but to say it’s been challenging for a lot of people might be an understatement. I think, it’s felt simultaneously very short and stretched long. I’m mostly hoping that 2021 (wow, that feels…odd to write) will be a smoother chapter, but one never does know. And I also know that the year switching over doesn’t automatically reset people’s lives; nor does it guarantee a gentler upcoming year. I’m hoping, though, that for me personally, entering 2021 will boost my positivity and productivity. I’m working on a WIP that I’m very passionate about…and, well, who knows what will happen with it. I guess we’ll have to see. Next year, though, I’m hoping to write a short (or knowing me…not very short) series on this blog about inspiration, writing, revising, and everything in between. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, let me know below!
For now, have an excellent remainder of 2020, stay safe, and especially if you live in an area where COVID-19 is rife, wash your hands.
Currently reading (at the time of drafting this): A HISTORY OF ANCIENT GREECE IN 50 LIVES by David Stuttard (I’m really loving this–I discovered David Stuttard this year, and he’s one of my favorite authors on Ancient Greece/Rome.)
Currently listening to: “Welcome to Rapture” by Garry Schyman (BioShock OST.)
Currently playing: Horizon Zero Dawn (Sony, Guerrilla Games.) Wowwww, oh my gosh, this game is SO GOOD. I just reached Meridian and I love everything about the world, the combat, the story (and THE SOUNDTRACK!!) I feel like I’m stopping every few seconds to take a screenshot–everything is that gorgeous. If you like RPGs, please do yourself a favor & check this one out.