It has been a minute, hasn’t it? I took a little bit of a Christmas week break. Nothing planned but I was working the holiday and it has been busy because people can’t be bothered to follow Covid protocols 🙃
(For context, I work in a lab that runs Covid tests. I feel like I eat, sleep, and breath Covid at this point.)
All that aside, I couldn’t close out the year without a few year-end posts, could I? 2020 has been… something else, but, mixed up with all the pandemic strangeness and the stress that was the 2020 elections in the United States, I read a lot of fantastic books! That made creating my top ten list a tiny bit difficult, as you can imagine. There are just so many books I loved this year! For the sake of this post (and my typing fingers), I had to make some tough cuts, but just know that this list is by all means not the limit of all the books I adored in 2020. These are just the shining stars that stand out for one reason or another!
Okay, okay… enough with the suspense. Time to show you my favorite books of the year!
#10. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
This is a recent favorite that I haven’t even had a chance to review. I read it as part of the Middle Grade Marvels group and absolutely adored it! It has a mix of humor and heart that I found incredibly endearing. The inclusion of legends that I grew up with, legends that featured people who look like me, made me love it even more! I think my favorite aspect, however, is Tristan Strong. He’s a young, Black boy who is depicted as just that. He has insecurities, he isn’t afraid to be open about being afraid, and we get to experience his joy right alongside his pain. He’s a fantastic character and the reason this book has ended up on my list!
#9. Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
The number nine spot goes to another recent read, though I read this one as part of a blog tour run by Dave @ The Write Reads! Dave is always sending incredible books our way, so I’m not surprised one of them ended up on my top ten list. Even though this won’t be published until 2021, I’m so happy I read it early enough to include it here! This book is absolutely magical. I felt transported to the world in which Amari is searching for her missing brother in a secret society that deals with the supernatural. I loved every bit of this book from beginning to end! And, yet again, we have a book with a young, Black protagonist that isn’t featuring The Struggle. Here’s a book that I would have loved to have a young kid, to see that Black people can have magical adventures, too. You can read my full review here.
#8. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Books were definitely my shining beacon during this pretty hellish year. One of my favorite moments was being introduced to the wonder that is Murderbot! I read this book during the Trope-ical Readathon for the A.I. prompt and had to resist the urge to complete the entire series! I would die for Murderbot and they would be thoroughly confused as to why, but I would still do it! I loved this novella with all my being and am looking forward to continuing the Murderbot Diaries in 2021. Though I did resist the urge to read them all, I couldn’t resist getting the entire series on my Kindle 😬
#7. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
2020 is also the year that I finally read The Poet X! I had heard nothing but incredible things about this book for quite some time and, yet, had never picked it up. I don’t know why it took me so long… probably the fact that I was intimidated by the format. I’m not a huge lover of poetry and this is a book written in verse. Still, there was so much hype and, even better, an audiobook read by the author. I decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did! This book blew my socks off so much so that I immediately listened to her newest book, Clap When You Land. (Which was also incredible, btw.) Now Elizabeth Acevedo is an auto-buy author and I’m not so afraid of books in verse! You can read my mini-review here.
#6. The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter
One of two sequels that made my list, this was a book that I was looking forward to since finishing Rage of Dragons last year! Here is a sequel that most definitely does not suffer from second book syndrome. I loved The Fires of Vengeance as much as (if not more) than I loved the first book! The action was just as intense and jaw-dropping, the character development was expertly handled, and the plot swept me up almost as soon as I opened the book. It also ended in a place that had me flailing and yelling “WTF?!” to no one in particular. I kind of had to put it on the list after that, right? 😂😂 You can read my review here.
#5. The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen
This is the second sequel on my top ten list and this one was the end to a duology. And what a gem of an ending! There is no such thing as a perfect series (is there?) but this one comes damn near close! This book had me feeling all the feels. It tore my heart out, it made me laugh, it made me feel all the warm fuzzies… that’s a lot for a relatively short book! I loved the way Margaret Owen wrapped up this book and this series. It was utterly satisfying and makes me want to read absolutely everything she ever writes. Especially if the heroines are anything like Fie! You can read my review here.
#4. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Though Erin Morgenstern is not the most prolific of writers, she is definitely one of my favorites. When I found out her next book was coming out in 2020, I made sure to get my hands on a copy! I even went to an in-person event to have it signed before the pandemic pushed everything online. I was kind of nervous going in because of the love I hold for The Night Circus. But this book had something going for it that The Night Circus didn’t… it’s a book about books! One of my favorite tropes written by one of my favorite authors? There was no way this wasn’t going to be a hit! I ended up absolutely adoring everything about this book and I can’t wait for her next one! You can read my review here.
And now for the Top Three!
#3. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
What can I say about this incredible Arthurian remix that I haven’t already raved about in my review? I won’t say this book surprised me because I always feel like that means I went into it not expecting to love it. I went into this fully expecting to enjoy it because it features Black Girl Magic, King Arthur, and secret societies. I just wasn’t expecting to fall head over heels for this world that Tracy Deonn has created! This was such an incredible first installment to a series and I am eager for more. And can we talk about this cover? Because it is magic in and of itself 😍 It’ll be interesting to see what the publishers try to do to keep the same level of amazingness!
#2. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
You know the book that put me into a book hangover for almost an entire month has to be on this list. It should come as no surprise that it’s in the top three! The Poppy War messed with my head in the best of ways and I’m so glad I finally picked it up! Even if it hurt me 😭 This book is as dark and gritty as everyone has said. This is a book that you definitely want to check trigger warnings before you jump in. But one of the aspects of this book that I enjoyed so much but didn’t talk about a lot was how it doesn’t glorify war. It shows the ugliness that comes with being a frontline soldier. It doesn’t gloss over the horrible things that happen when you’re fighting for your country and your life. And it doesn’t excuse those horrible things as just a “casualty of war”. I’m currently trying to finish up The Dragon Republic before the end of the year and, so far, it’s more of the same epicness. Here’s hoping it doesn’t land me in another month-long book hangover 😅 You can read my rambling review here.
And last but most certainly not least, my top read of the year is…
#1. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Is anyone surprised about this? I’ve been talking about this book on my blog since back in April! This was such a fun, beautiful, epic story that I want everyone to read now please. I completely fell in love with this story and the characters within. Tarisai is, perhaps, my favorite heroine that I’ve read in a very long time. She’s strong, she’s soft, she has a heart the size of Aritsar and I just want her to have everything she’s ever wanted and more 🥺 And the way that this book ended! I’m so glad this is the start to a new series because I was not ready to let go of this story at all. I’m fully a Raybearer stan and I cannot wait until the next book is in my hands! You can read my review here.
There you have it! My top ten of 2020! Though it was kind of tough narrowing it down to these ten, it was also fun going through all my reads over this past year. This has been an incredible reading year for me, quality and quantity-wise. I’m hoping this great-book-energy continues into the new year!
Have you read any of my top ten? What was your favorite book that you read in 2020? Let me know in the comments!
And, as always, happy reading!