The Best Books I Read This Year (2020 Edition)

It’s been a good reading year!

It’s that time of year again! Time to look back on everything I read this year and pick out my favorites. I’m not going to limit myself on numbers in this post, but I will make sure to divide it into categories to make things easier on you. 🙂

To recap, this year I read 90 books (and I anticipate finished at least 2 or 3 more by December 31). Of those, 8 were my own (I count them for the year I write, since I read them so many times, and I re-read Pie-Jinks to prepare for an upcoming full series next year). Finally, I beta read one of those books.

I also read in a variety of formats and genres including (but not limited to) audio, ebooks, and physical books. For genres, I read a lot of fantasy and young adult, but I also read some nonfiction, adult fantasy, manga, and general fiction.

If you want to see the breakdown of everything I read, you can find it over on my Goodreads page.

And now, let me highlight my favorites!

Just so you know, as an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases made through the purchase links on this page. However, the things I have chosen to share I enjoyed myself and either purchased or received through my library or as an ARC!

Fantasy (Adult)

Labyrinth of Shadows by Kyla Stone

This was one of the first books I read this year as part of an online book club I’m in, the Fellowship of Fantasy (you can find them on Facebook by that name). This book is an amazing retelling of the minotaur and the labyrinth, and it had the BEST ending (in my personal opinion). It was unique, exciting, and deeply engaging. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves unique fantasy and Greek mythology!

Throne of Sand by Elm Vince & Helena Rookwood

I’m not sure if this one was meant to be an Aladdin retelling, but it definitely gave me that feeling! It’s full of a cast of unforgettable characters and so much drama and emotion! Also, Zadie gives me so much anxiety. So yeah. I will be finishing this series for sure!

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison

I love Jemison’s writing, and this was certainly no exception. Fifth Season is a fantastic high fantasy with a unique magic system and a world ravaged by nature. It’s intense and exciting and this is another series I will be continuing!

Ashen by H.L. Burke

I previously reviewed this one, but in case you missed it, this is a fantastic fantasy inspired by Iceland. It was so much fun with good characters and unique magic! I also loved how unique it was as a retelling of Cinderella. Definitely worth getting (I even got myself an autographed copy because I loved it so much!).

Wrought of Silver & Ravens by E.J. Kitchens

This is another one I reviewed this year, and it is such a good, solid high fantasy! It it set in a place reminiscent of Greece (I think), and it has an intricate magic and history system! It was another one that I highly recommend and enjoyed SO MUCH.

Shadow Hunter by B.R. Kingslover

This is one of the urban fantasies I read this year, but I share this one because it’s the first in a new (to me) series and is very good! The protagonist is a cinnamon roll assassin, the magic is cool, and it has all the elements of found family that I adore!

Young Adult

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

I read this one just last month after a long library hold. It is so worth it! It is a unique fantasy with a Mexican-inspired desert setting that takes a critical look at traditions and beliefs. It’s haunting and captivating all at once. It is also an LGBT+ read, if you are looking to expand your diversity in reading!

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

This is a contemporary starring a girl who loves the… well, the stars. She gets conned into a glamping trip with her ex-best friend, and then they are abandoned by their companions in the wilderness. There’s also some SERIOUS family drama and stuff for the main character to deal with and a discussion of step parents (in a good way). Also good for your diversity, the ex-best friend has lesbian parents. Warning for those of you looking for clean reading: this book contains sex.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

This is such a ride of a book. Inspired by K-dramas, this is a tale of a gumiho, or fox spirit, who must eat men’s souls to survive. But when she loses her fox bead, which could let someone else control her, she must rely on her new friend and her own wit to recover it without giving away what she is to the world. Book 2, Vicious Spirits, is also out now!

Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

I fell in love with this one as soon as I started reading! It reads like a historical fantasy, but I’m not quite sure what inspired it. It follows two sisters, one chosen, and excited, to be buried with the king (who is near death) and the other determined to save the king’s life – and therefore also her sister. It’s such an interesting dynamic and an intense mystery within the palace walls. Bonus: book 2 just came out this month! I am reading it now. 🙂

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Similar to Ashen, this is a Norse-inspired book. It follows a Viking shieldmaiden who goes into battle to come face-to-face with her brother – who was supposedly killed years ago. She sneaks away to find him and lands herself in a whole lot of trouble. It is so well-written and vivid. Warning: this book is very violent and gory.

Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh

This is the conclusion to an Ice Age fantasy duology I started a couple years ago. It is truly a unique read. I can’t quite explain the feelings it gives me, but it is like nothing I’ve ever read before. This particular book (book 2) focuses on what people will do for their family and deciding how to navigate family and romantic relationships – particularly when both you and your betrothed are suddenly meant to inherit your own clans. So, so good! I am so happy with both of these books, and these are some truly beautiful covers. (Book 1: Ivory and Bone)

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

This book still haunts me. Like, seriously. I’d call it a psychological thriller. Basically, it involves the main character realizing her best friend just… disappeared. And no one seems to notice or care. It follows her searching for the truth and the unexpected answer to all her questions. Just be prepared. Like I said. Still haunted over here.

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Oh my goodness, I read this in a single sitting. If you love survival stories, THIS IS IT. It follows a girl with dreams of college track who goes to a party in the woods. When she comes across her cheating boyfriend (not a spoiler… this literally happens at the opening), her anger drives her to run away. But then she can’t find her way back and must both survive and find her way out of the wilderness. It is intense and powerful!

Between Jobs by W.R. Gingell

This is another found family sort of story, and an urban fantasy. It combines so many Selina-catnip items! But seriously, it’s so good. It’s set in Australia (or New Zealand… sorry, I can’t quite remember) and involves some fae and vampires, as well as an orphan girl hiding in walls until she can buy her murdered parents’ house. Recently, I won the rest of the series in a contest, so you can bet I will be continuing this one!

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

This is a contemporary fantasy, but more importantly, it is a powerful story of grief, suicide, and those left behind. It is beautifully written, set outside of the US for most of the story, and is one of those works that just stays with you.

Manga and Graphic Novels or Collections

Seven Little Sons of the Dragon by Ryoko Kui

My husband bought me this collection of 7 stories for Christmas because it’s by the same person who made one of my favorite manga (Delicious in Dungeon). Overall, I loved all the stories! They are full of humor, unexpected twists, and fascinating thought experiments. I am so happy to own this, and I’m sure I will read it again!

Fangirl Vol. 1 by Rainbow Rowell & Sam Maggs

Fangirl is undoubtedly one of my favorite books of all time, and they are turning it into a manga! The first volume came out this year, and I loved every minute of it. Can’t wait for the next one!

Laid Back Camp by Afro

I have been searching for camp/camping stories for about a year and a half, and my husband randomly stumbled across this. It is slice of life, it’s calm, and it’s all about camping and friendship! I ADORE this series, and I’m up to 5 volumes already! (Still need to read the last 3 though, as I just got them)

Made in Abyss by Akihito Tsukushi

This is another one my husband bought for me (he likes to get me different ones to try out). It’s a really cool fantasy world where people dungeon dive in this pit of monsters and treasures to make a living. But, the deeper you go, the harder it is to come back. And trying to come back from the very bottom kills people. It’s really a cool concept!

General Fiction

Beach Read by Emily Henry

This was another family drama/secrets story, but also a really unique romance between two competing writers. I deeply enjoyed this, as a writer and a person, but this is another one that’s got some sex, so beware if that bothers you.

Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte

This is also a romance, but it’s EVERYTHING fall. And… coincidentally stars another author? Weird. But it’s all about a woman who travels back to her hometown to keep her grandfather out of a home. The twist? Her bestselling series trashes the residents of the town, and she abandoned her high school sweetheart there after he broke her heart.

Nonfiction

Romance Your Brand by Zoe York

This is a good book for indies looking to build a marketable, profitable brand. It’s a step by step guide to building your next series in a way that readers (and you) will love. I highly recommend this to every indie author!

Dear Author by Laura A. Grace

Finally, this is a cute, sweet, heartfelt little collection of hypothetical letters to you, this reader’s favorite author. It’s full of encouragement, joy, and heart, and if you need a pick-me-up for your writing, give this a read! (also, the ebook is so cheap, there’s no reason not to get yourself a copy!)

Final Thoughts

I read so many good books this year! And there are so many others I can’t wait to read on my list!

Personally, I love doing these posts at the end of the year to really reflect on the joy I got this year from what I read and remember my favorites. Do you do anything like this?

I also would love to hear about your favorite reads of 2020. Did you find anything good? Any new books or series you love? Share them with me down below, and let’s talk books!

And until next time, happy reading! ❤

Drowning in Books

Drowning in books? I am. But I’m happy about it. Are you?

Did you know that the TBR is never-ending?

There was once a time when I thought my TBR pile (TBR: “to be read”) would possibly be completed, but I have since come to realize the plight of almost every reader everywhere: TBR piles never shrink. They only grow.

We live in an age where people (like me, next spring!) can publish without the help of an agent or a publishing house, leading to a large number of books being released that may not have ever been available to the public even ten years ago. Indie publishing is a huge market, and this means that there is an overabundance of books I want to read.

So now I have over 400 books on my ereader, of which I’ve read less than 50.

And then there’s the physical books, the ones I usually buy to keep up with the publishing industry, since I plan on querying also (side note: having both independently and traditionally published books makes someone a hybrid author… and that’s my end goal). It’s vitally important to a writer/author to keep up with the current market by reading new releases. Otherwise you can get left behind.

So my TBR shelf at home, a literal shelf in my library, is sagging under the weight of so many books, bought with the best of intentions and left until I get around to them.

And my digital TBR list on Goodreads is well over 700 books now.

And for a long time, this seemed really daunting. It made me sad to think of all the books I would never get to read.

But recently, I heard it put another way, which is in line with the thoughts I am starting to have about my TBR: don’t be afraid to keep adding to your list. Yes, maybe it seems overwhelming, but if you limit yourself because of what you haven’t read, you may miss out on your new favorite book. And every book you buy, even if it’s a free copy through Amazon or a giveaway, supports the author and encourages them to write more. (Check out K.M. Robinson on Facebook to see this post… she’s a great author to follow, too! And she discusses how the TBR affects authors in particular.)

And then there’s one other point I’d like to make. Having a lot of unread books isn’t a bad thing because we all go through seasons in our lives where we need something different. Personally, I cycle through genres depending on how I’m feeling or what I’m feeling like reading that week. Or month, as is usually the case with my physical books anymore. So having these books in your own personal library, whether physical or digital, gives you the opportunity to read the thing you want to read right now. You don’t have to worry about not having a fantasy when you want fantasy or a contemporary when you need fluffy. You just have to go get it off your shelf. And reading becomes a much more enjoyable experience and escape as a result.

So yes. I’m drowning in books. But you know what? I’m happy about it.

~~~

What about you? Do you feel overwhelmed or overjoyed about your TBR? Does anything I’ve said above make you think a little differently? Let’s talk in the comments!

Reminder time!

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What I’m Reading: Mid-2018 Update

This year, my reading goal was simply to read one book per week. As of June 8, I am 9 books ahead of that schedule at 31 books read since January. So I think it’s time to review my top and bottom picks! A note: I didn’t hate anything I read so far this year. A few I didn’t enjoy as much as others, but most of the books I really had fun reading!

Currently Reading (some more than others):

Favorite book of the year so far: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Okay, so I read a lot of really good books so far. But I was so fantastically impressed with this post-apocalyptic-feeling sci-fi that I actually shared it with my sister only a few chapters in! Imagine a world where anyone can be infected by a fungus that makes you burst into flames spontaneously. What an exciting and unique premise! And it’s so well done (no pun intended, but HA) I couldn’t put it down.

Least favorite: Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Again, most of the books I read this year I really enjoyed. But this one, though it was well done, I just couldn’t get into. I found it a little dull. It just wasn’t for me. But I did learn a bunch from it, which is the beauty of reading non-fiction sometimes. And I did really also like Devil in the White City by the same author, so it was probably just the subject matter.

Honorable Mentions (in order of reading): the books I also really really enjoyed!

  • One Salt Sea (October Daye #5) by Seanan McGuire (I love her)
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (Oh my goodness, adorable!)
  • Hushed by Joanne Macgregor (Gorgeous cover, fun fluffy read!)
  • Born of Aether (Elemental Origins #4) by A. L. Knorr (such an awesome series!)
  • Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham (the audiobook was fantastic!)
  • Transcendent (The Kacy Chronicles #4) by A. L. Knorr (love this author)
  • How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather (spooky and gripping… would have been good for Halloween!)
  • Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by a bunch of authors (beautiful art, intriguing world)
  • Etched in Bone (The Others #5) by Anne Bishop (one of my all-time fav series)
  • Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer (so good)
  • The Elementals (Technically #6 in the Elemental Origins) by A. L. Knorr (told you I loved this author)

Other books I read this year:

So that’s that! What have you been reading? What are your favorite and least favorite reads this year? Tell me below!