Hi friends; and happy Thursday!
I cannot believe we’re already nearing the end of January. Much like the rest of the world, I’m still stuck in March of 2020 and I’m finding the passing of time to be pretty darn unbelievable.
Something I really struggled with last year was writing and posting regularly; I would have spans of time where I didn’t post for three or four weeks, and then I had moments of wanting to post multiple times in one week. Despite seriously blogging for two years now, I’ve yet to nail down a concrete schedule and was more than excited to change that in the new year.
Well. Here we are, almost at the end of the first month of 2021, and I am only now getting around to talking about my favorite books from last year. Frankly, my ability to find motivation comes and goes, and procrastination is much easier than sitting down and finding words for the thoughts swimming in my brain. Nevertheless, despite the many reasons why 2020 was such a dumpster fire of a year, I read some pretty fantastic books and I cannot wait to share them with you.
I read 77 books in 2020, beating my goal of 71. In my five years of setting GoodReads challenges and actually tracking my reading, 2020 was my best reading year yet.
I met new characters that left marks on my heart, and I picked up long-awaited series that surpassed even their insurmountable amount of hype. Most of my 2020 favorites actually are series—
which, no, definitely isn’t cheating. Because I fell in love with these stories so quickly and so easily, I’m sure I’ve gushed plenty about them already; it’s pretty hard to avoid that, truly. But, without further ado, let’s get into my top eight books of 2020.
Clicking the titles of the books will take you to their GoodReads page!
Renegades (series) by Marissa Meyer
“How can we expect people to change if we don’t give them the chance to?”
Nova was raised as a villain, by a villain. On a mission to avenge her family’s death and punish the so-called “heroes” that took them away from her, Nova poses as a Renegade—as a super hero. There she meets Adrian Everhart; and the only thing he believes in more than justice is Nova Artino.
There’s something so different and immediately intriguing when reading from a villain’s perspective, especially because you almost always end up rooting for them, in a strange turn of events. It was so easy for me to fall in love with this series not only because of Marissa Meyer’s beautiful writing and the fantastic world-building, but because the characters were so admirable and their connections so genuine. I was often in stitches after fits of laughter and tears after missed chances. And, for what it’s worth, the ending of this series was the actual shock of a century.
Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
“The most important four-letter word in our history will always be love. That’s what we’re fighting for. That’s who we are.”
It’s 1989. Reza is certain that he’s gay, but no one else knows, and he’s horrified by what he’s seeing around him amidst the AIDS crisis. Judy doesn’t daydream of romance, until she think she finds it right under her nose. Art is out and proud, and he prefers to capture the world behind a camera lens rather than with his own eyes.
Picking up this book, I knew it was going to be completely heart-wrenching. With such a heavy topic coloring the background of the story, it was bound to break my heart in countless ways. What I didn’t expect though was how comforting and warm the story felt as a whole. It’s, no doubt, a book about discovering yourself and feeling okay with who you are. But it’s also a story about the difference you can make in other people’s lives and the difference even a stranger can make in yours.
A Darker Shade of Magic (series) by V.E. Schwab
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
Kell is one of the few magicians left that can travel across worlds unaccessible to many. He was raised with royalty but isn’t seen as more than a servant, a messenger. After a shifty exchange, Kell runs into Lila, a dangerous girl on the run in dire need of a good adventure. She robs him, then saves him, before begging him to let her travel with him.
Okay, first. Is there really anything better than two main characters becoming acquainted with one another because one of them tried to rob the other? Kell and Lila are both so chaotic yet cunning, and I am absolutely here for that dynamic. I think what made me fall for this series is that the main cast of characters are some of my favorite tropes—we have the misunderstood, dark one; we have the reckless one, always on the hunt for a fight; and we have the cocky and witty one. Each character is fantastic in their own way, and Scwhab’s world-building and magic-creating is next-level.
The Lightning Thief (series) by Rick Riordan
“If my life is going to mean anything, I have to live it myself.”
Percy Jackson has been thrown out of schools left and right, forever marked as a “troubled kid.” Then, on an field trip his algebra teacher tries to kill him, leading Percy’s mom to divulge on her past and take him to Camp Half Blood. There, he learns that his estranged dad is Poseidon. You know, the Greek god. On top of that, at the ripe old age of 12, he’s expected to save the world as they know it.
When you pick up a well-beloved series of readers everywhere, it can go one of two ways. It can either live up and surpass every expectation you ever had, or it can drown under all of its hype. I’m so beyond happy to have loved the Percy Jackson series as much as I did, despite having read it as an “adult.” I admire Rick Riordan’s ability to write such flawed but lovable characters, while tackling heavier topics like fate, broken families, and being strong in more ways than one.
Loveless by Alice Oseman
“I’ve learnt some things. Like the way friendship can be just as intense, beautiful and endless as romance. Like the way there’s love everywhere around me.”
Georgia is in love with love. She has spent her days watching romance movies, catching up on her favorite fan fictions, and waiting for her Great Big Love Story. And, during her first year of university, she’s willing to try anything to find her Love Story.
After reading and loving every minute of Radio Silence, reading Loveless really was a no brainer for me. I’ve managed to talk about this book a number of times here now, and I’m still not quite sure that I’ve fully been able to articulate what I love so much about it. I found myself relating to so many of Georgia’s first-year college experiences, it was surreal. Her story is equally heart-breaking as it is heart-mending, and as someone whose platonic relationships are the most important, I will forever be happy I gave this one a try and met Georgia and her gang of wonderful, wonderful friends.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
“There is a defiance in being a dreamer.”
Determined to desert the wretched life already planned out for her, Addie LaRue makes a deal with the devil, granting her immortality but cursing her to a life of being forgotten. But, 300 years after her bargain and not giving up, Addie meets someone. And that someone remembers her the next time he sees her.
A round of applause to V.E. Schwab for writing two of my favorites from this past year! Despite its slow beginning, I couldn’t help myself but fall in love with this story and these characters. The writing of Addie LaRue felt so different than A Darker Shade of Magic in a way that was more delicate and time-sensitive, which is definitely ironic given Addie’s situation. Again, the world-building is of another planet and it’s darn near impossible to not get wrapped up in Addie’s world of being forgotten, especially after she meets Henry. Everything about this book was so perfect for me, from the shifting timelines to the parallel lives of our main characters, and I really haven’t stopped thinking about the ending since putting it down.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
“It was bad enough being an outsider; what would happen if they couldn’t—or wouldn’t—accept him for who he was?”
In a desperate attempt to prove his true gender to his family, Yadriel does what all brujos are expected to do—he summons a ghost. Problem is, he summons the wrong ghost, who just so happens to be a very annoying, way-too-energetic Julian. And Julian isn’t ready to cross over so soon.
Aiden Thomas’ debut left me absolutely wowed. Cemetery Boys is a story about so many things, and it juggles every single topic flawlessly. Yadriel is desperate for his family to see his true gender and accept him as a brujo. Julian is a loud-mouth, self-proclaimed “bad boy” who spent his days caring about others more than himself. And all of this is wrapped up in a culturally dense setting that you can’t help but want to learn everything about. I loved absolutely every minute of this wild adventure and only wished it lasted longer.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
“If we don’t tell strange stories, when something strange happens we won’t believe it.”
Ani, Crown Princess of Kilendree, spent the first years of her life with her aunt, learning the language of birds. She was shrugged off as foolish and not yet ready for queendom. On a cross-country journey gone rogue, Ani must learn to rely on herself, her special gift, and the reliance of the strangers we meet along the way.
Again, these authors and their ability to craft such perfect worlds and characters beyond our own lifelines is mind-boggling to me. Shannon Hale’s writing in particular is so lyrical and descriptive, and so well-matched for this fairytale retelling. I fell in love immediately with Ani and her persistence, no matter the struggles she was facing. When I was reading this story, I honestly felt like I was transported to when I was younger, back when believing in magic and far-off places came as a second nature. I feel as if I say this same exact thing about a number of books, but I truly loved every second of this one.
We have officially made it to 2021, my friends!
Now, I’m not one to believe that a new year changes everything
(especially after last year), but I do sincerely hope that your year is not only filled with good reads, but good health, great people, and complete and total happiness.