The Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly challenge post previously hosted by The Broke and Bookish and now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. You can follow along for each weekly post here. This week’s topic is wrapping up the 2020 year and sharing your favorite books of the year!
Oh hello there. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?! I looked at the last time I wrote and it was the beginning of November. My excuse for not writing anything in the month of November is that it was NaNoWriMo and I was heavily preoccupied. My excuse for not writing basically at all in the month of December? Well, I don’t have one. But it IS one of my new year’s resolutions to work on writing on this blog more!
I did want to end the year with my top ten books that I read this year in 2020. I tried to, for the most part, keep it to books in 2020, but I did have one or two books that came out last year and then one or two books that come out NEXT year but were amazing ARCs that I read. I read 80 of my 100 goal, which I think isn’t totally horrible BUT 35 of those 80 were rereads. That’s nearly half. I struggled SO much to read anything this year – covid and quarantine got to me big time and I just had a hard time being able to disconnect and enjoy reading the way I used to. I also feel like I focused more on writing and publishing and less on reading.
Even still – I read some GREAT books this year and am super stoked to share my top ten books of 2020 with you!
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.
Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.
Comes Out March 23rd 2021
I’ve been hearing nothing but absolutely amazing things about Aiden’s debut novel, Cemetery Boys and yes, I own it and yes, I still haven’t read it. But when Aiden appeared on Marissa Meyer’s podcast and spoke about his 2021 book, Lost in the Never Woods, I was so hooked on the premise of it and knew that I HAD to read it. When I saw it was available to me as an eARC, I immediately downloaded and proceeded to devour it. I can’t wait to finally Cemetery Boys soon – I hope soon, lol – but this book was just so wonderfully magical and dark and twisted and romantic and UGH, guys, you HAVE to get this book when it comes out in March!
Majesty (American Royals #2) by Katharine McGee
Power is intoxicating. Like first love, it can leave you breathless. Princess Beatrice was born with it. Princess Samantha was born with less. Some, like Nina Gonzalez, are pulled into it. And a few will claw their way in. Ahem, we’re looking at you Daphne Deighton.
As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.
A new reign has begun….
It comes as no surprise that Majesty would end up on my top ten list as the first book was easily one of my top faves in 2019. I love any story to do with modern day royals and Katharine took that concept and twisted it, giving Americans an alternate history and a monarchy, instead of a democracy, and I loved it. I loved the alternate history, I loved the royal part of the story but I honestly loved the cast of characters and the ever changing romances the most. I honestly was so sure of what I wanted at the end of book one but twenty pages into book two and I did a 180 and was convinced of so many other things. I love love love this series and can’t speak highly enough of it.
Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli
Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.
Comes Out April 20th, 2021
This book, like any Becky Albertalli book, played with my emotions so much. Like I mentioned above, I struggled to read much of anything this year so when I did sit down and devour a book in one sitting – the way I did with this book – its because it was so good that I couldn’t focus on anything BUT that book. This book was ROUGH. It had the wonderful, magical, sweet romance of a Becky Albertalli book but honestly, this book felt more like a friendship book to me and it was an emotional roller coaster to watch Kate and Anderson go through their first real conflict as friends and to see them both struggle so much. I think anyone who has ever been so close to someone and had a big fight with them or felt like they were going to lose them as a friend or DID lose them as a friend is really going to connect with this story. I can’t wait til it comes out and everyone else can read it!
Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?
When the news broke that Stephenie Meyer would finally – after years and years of waiting – release Midnight Sun aka Twilight from Edward’s point of view, I was SO excited and I think my excitement doubled, tripled, quadrupled because this year was fully Twilight for me. Before the shutdowns happened, I visited Seattle for my birthday and one of the days we rented a car and drove to Forks and explored Forks, La Push and Port Angeles and had the whole Twilight experience and it was AWESOME. So I was excited for this book because I was already in a Twilight mood and honestly, I loved this book. I always thought Edward was the way more interesting character than Bella and that Twilight would have done better from his point of view. Add in the fact that she’s just become a better writer since Twilight came out in 2005 and it was a wonderfully entertaining book to read.
Read My Review Here.
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.
Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.
Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.
I’ve been in a HUGE romance mood this year – basically everything I’ve read and watched and written has been steeped in romance – and this book is a book that has been recommended to me several times since it came out last year and I finally decided to sit down and read it and I am SOOOO glad that I did. This book was such a great romance, included a sexy baseball player and was just so sweet and beautiful. I also thought that it was such a great concept – a bunch of guys meeting up to read romance novels and use them to be better husbands and partners and boyfriends – honestly, more dudes should do this. In fact, I think its actually inspired some bromance book clubs in real life, which is awesome. I thought that the romance was sweet and sexy but also really believable too and I truly enjoyed it.
From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.
Jennifer Armentrout did her very JLA thing and dropped a surprise novel earlier this year called From Blood to Ash – her first foray into adult fantasy and to say that it was a smash success would be an understatement. I’ve been part of her Facebook group – the JLAnders – for years now and there was a sudden massive influx of members once that book came out and so many people have been posting all year – I read FBTA and I need more of JLA! And honestly, its for good reason that this book massively exploded and won a 2020 GoodReads Choice Award – its damn good. For someone who hadn’t taken a step into adult fantasy yet…she didn’t just take the step, she leapt forward, broke the door down and shouted that she was here. The world building is great, the characters are amazing and the romance is steamy and sexy. I LOVE this book and have been so busy and lacking in desire to read but I am so ready to finally read book 2 – hopefully before book 3 comes out in just a few months. This book is BRILLIANT and I’m stunned that this amazing woman just seems to get better with each and every book.
Read My Full Review Here.
Well Met by Jen Deluca
Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?
The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?
This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.
I love Ren Faire – its one of my favorite parts of each year – and I was so devastated when it was canceled due to Covid and I felt the lack of it in my life hardcore. I just happened to be scrolling through Instagram when I saw a fellow bookish friend talk about this book and I immediately bought it, without hesitation. This book had everything that I had been looking for – the beauty and fun and escapism of Ren Faire, a fun enemies to lovers romance and a lot of laughs. I LOVED this book and had no idea it was so brand new and immediately went searching for book two, and was so sad when I realized I had MONTHS to wait until I could read it. Jen is a fantastic romance author and really brings Ren Faire to life in her book. She really helped make up for the fact that I couldn’t really be at Ren Faire this year and I just adored Emily and Simon so much, especially Simon’s roguish, sexy pirate character. Swoon! She rocked the sequel as well and I can’t wait until I can get my grabby hands on book three.
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.
But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.
Oh Cassandra Clare and her neverending Shadowhunters series. I keep being disappointed by the end of the series and yet I keep coming back for more. I am still a huge fan – her books changed my life and I have TWO runes on my body, permanently, but City of Heavenly Fire was not my fave in the Mortal Instruments and while the first two books of the Dark Artifices were beautiful, the third and final book left something to be desired, honestly. Infernal Devices, however, still remain perfect, as well as the original Mortal Instruments trilogy. Because of this, I still keep trying and honestly, its because she still writes such beautiful stories! She gives me hope! I absolutely loved the first book in this series, loved seeing the TID characters grown up and loved seeing their children as teens and Shadowhunters. I absolutely adore James Herondale so much and I honestly think that Cordelia Carstairs is one of my new favorite Shadowhunters characters. I cannot wait until Chain of Iron comes out – I’ve already preordered my signed copy from Good Choice Reading – and I have such high hopes that it will be as good as book one! Don’t let me down, Cassie!
Read My Full Review Here.
Crave by Tracy Wolff
My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.
Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.
Which could spell death for us all.
Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.
Remember how I said I was in a Twilight mood this year? Well, this book could NOT have come at a more perfect time. I received the ARC in the mail, along with some seriously cool goodies, and I was immediately hooked. This book was perfect for Twilight nostalgia and fulfilled my desire for dark, sexy, vampire, early 2000s YA romance and I was HERE for it. This book absolutely exploded, so much so that they pushed the release date for book two up because we were all so excited to read it – I do still need to read it haha – and book 3 comes out SUPER soon as well. Its so awesome that vampires and paranormal creatures seem to be making it come back – those stories are what started YA and I’m stoked to see new stories like these ones come out, make a comeback and be at this excellent level of writing and storytelling. It is SO awesome.
Read My Full Review Here.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
I don’t know – maybe because I’m getting old and busy LOL – I’m just not as on top of brand new, hot releases like I used to be so when this book KEPT appearing all over my feeds, I was like, okay, I have to buy this, this book is OBVIOUSLY a big deal. And it turned up to be one, totally worth the purchase and two, totally living up to the hype. This book, man, I FELT it. As a brown girl, as a queer girl, as a girl who never knew quite where she fit in in high school because of those things, as someone raised partially by her grandmother, I just really felt this. I also found it really sweet and fun and funny and I really liked how wholesome and lighthearted it could be at times and man, after all the other stuff I read this year, on top of a pandemic and an election and all that, it was nice to have a book with a happy ending too. What an amazing debut by Leah – I can’t wait for her sophomore novel!
Read My Full Review here.
What were some of your favorite books that you read this year? Share in the comments!