Hello lovely reader! In today’s blog post I will be giving you my top 10 favourite reads of 2020. In August I posted a list of My top 10 favourite books of 2020 so far, so if you’re curious to see which ones made it onto my final top 10, you’ll have to continue on reading! In that post I did a number 1 to number 10 list, but now we’ll do a little countdown to keep it a bit more suspenseful!
10. Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.
Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another?
Leave The World behind is definitely my favourite adult thriller I’ve ever read. It’s a short book, but it’s so interesting. You learn so much from this book, about internalised racism, how dependent the world is on electricity and a lot of other things. This is the only thriller I really forsee myself rereading one day.
9. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
In 2020 I learned that I really enjoy reading about fantasies set in contemporary worlds, and Cemetery Boys was one of my favourites within that category that I read in 2020. Especially considering this is a debut novel, this book is just phenomenal and very much a laugh-out-loud-and-sobbing-within-two-pages type book.
8. A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy
Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.
When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.
A River of Royal Blood is the first repeat from my earlier list, so I’ll talk a bit more in short about this one (and every repeat). This book just has one of my favourite tropes, the ‘people destined to kill each other’ one and does that so well honestly!
7. Not That Bad by Roxane Gay
Cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay has edited a collection of essays that explore what it means to live in a world where women are frequently belittled and harassed due to their gender, and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.
Another repeat and hands down my favourite non fiction book ever. I really want to buy a physical copy of this book, reread it and annotate the heck out of it. If you’re taking away only one book of this list, let it be this one. Not That Bad is without a doubt the most important book on here.
6. Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
And here is the second fantasy set in a contemporary world. Witches of Ash and Ruin just has everything I love: witches, a contemporary setting, true crime, LGBTQ+ rep, mental health rep and so much more. It’s the perfect blend of my favourite things, so naturally it had to be on this list!
5. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
Where I seem to love fantasies in a contemporary setting, I love fantasies set in a historical period at least equally as much. The Bear and the Nightingale won’t be the last one on this list with that setting… I read the entire Winternight trilogy this year but unfortunatley I didn’t love the second and third book as much as this first one, although they were still great books!
4. Arc of a Scythe trilogy
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
The Arc of a Scythe trilogy is the only series that made it to my favourites list this year in its entirity and it’s also one of the only series I’ve ever bingeread, so I guess that already says a lot, eh?
3. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?
Would you look at that, my favourite book from my previous list is ‘only’ in the third spot now. I still very much love this book and I never would’ve expected a YA thriller to be one of my favourite books ever that I keep recommending to everyone, but here we are. READ THIS BOOK!
2. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.
I never would have thought I’d fall in love with The Starless Sea. Whenever I heard someone talk about it, it seemed like a book that just wasn’t for me. But oh, I was so wrong. I loved everything about this book and yes, it’s once again a fantasy set in a contemporary world, surprise!
1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
And here we have my favourite book of 2020. Just like with The Starless Sea I was very much scared to read this book because of the mixed reviews it got and me thinking from those reviews that I wouldn’t love this. But here we are. I can completely understand why this book is not for everyone, but I adored it so much. And look at that, it’s another fantasy set in both a historical and contemporary setting, are we surprised?
I can’t believe 2020 is over, and I especially can’t believe how much I read in 2020. Even though the year was as shitty as it can get, my reading was amazing and I couldn’t be more happy and thankful for that. However, of course there were some books I didn’t really like, you’ll see those in next week’s blog post!