Before we start this post, I just want to address the Black Lives Matter movement happening in the world right now, because to simply continue posting as normal wouldn’t be right. There are lots of things you can do to help, including donating if you have the means to, signing free petitions and educating yourself by reading books, watching films/documentaries – there are lots of lists of different antiracist content that you can be devouring on social media sites. Here is a link to a really helpful page with lots of links to different ways you can help. There is also a playlist on Youtube called Stream to Donate which is filled with tons of videos, the money from which will be donated to different places, all of which are in place to help. Even simply speaking up makes a difference. Your voice matters.
It’s already the middle of this absolutely terrible year, which is honestly hard to believe. It’s a whole world away from when I made this same post last year, and everything has changed beyond recognition. I’ve also been reading a little less this year, and I have lost a little bit of motivation being stuck at home all the time. However, I do still want to reflect on the books I’ve read and what I want to read in the rest of the year.
1: Best book you’ve read in 2020
It’s hard to choose, because I’ve read a lot of great books this year, but I think I have to choose one which I actually wasn’t expecting to love as much as did, which is Deeplight by Frances Hardinge. This book – I can’t. It is so, so beautifully written. And if you like weird stuff, then you have to read Frances Hardinge – and this might be her weirdest book yet, but in the best way possible. Her books are like fantasy but at the same time nothing like it at all. Her originality and creativity never ceases to amaze me, and this beautiful, atmospheric, clever and crazy novel has to be my favourite book of the year thus far.
2: Best sequel you’ve read in 2020
Eclipse the Skies by Maura Milan or In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire are probably the two best sequels I have read this year. I’m not sure In An Absent Dream actually counts as a sequel – its more of a standalone companion. Either way, it was incredible and I feel it needs to mentioned. It was so short yet so rich and complex and I loved it. Eclipse the Skies is the second and final book in the incredibly underrated Ignite the Stars duology. I loved the growth of Ia, our main character, in this book, and the ending was super emotional. I think there is definitely room for more books in this series, as some questions were left unanswered, but the conclusion was simultaneously satisfying.
3: New release you haven’t read yet but want to
There are quite a few, because I feel like I haven’t been reading so many new releases this year. One True King by Soman Chainani is definitely amongst those – The School for Good and Evil is not only one of my favourite series, but also a book I adored when I was younger, and its difficult to believe its nearly over. I’d like to also get to All The Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace because it supposedly involves mermaids, and I need more books about mermaids. And of course, I need to read House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas, I’ve just been avoiding it because its long.
4: Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
So many! I’ll list a few: Loveless by Alice Oseman, I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch, Bright Raven Skies by Kristina Perez, The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare, Iron Heart by Nina Varela, A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha…
5: Biggest disappointment
Daughters of Nri by Reni K Amayo. I hate to say it, but as of writing this, I haven’t finished this book yet, and I’m not sure I even will. I’m really sad about this, because the synopsis of this sounded incredible, and the cover is simply breathtaking. This is a Nigerian inspired fantasy about goddesses and lost magic. I should love it. But the writing in this is so poor. It feels almost over emotive, in that there are useless scenes which achieve nothing, pointless hurdles for the characters that do nothing to further the plot, and unnecessary use of overdramatic verbs. And the worst part is that the characters are just complete Mary-Sues, which means they’re loved by everyone for literally no good reason, they’re beautiful but they don’t know it, all the boys want them for their beauty but they would never guess it, they don’t go to the balls because they’re ‘not like other girls’. I just can’t, and I’m really really upset about it. I just think this needed a few more edits to make it into the book it needed to be.
6: Biggest surprise
I wouldn’t say that I’ve read anything majorly surprising this year, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto quite as much as I did. I thought this was going to be a very average YA fantasy, but it was actually really good and the twist at the end was so cool. I’m very interested in reading the sequel soon.
7: Favourite new author (debut or new to you)
I don’t really like to count authors as favourites until I’ve the vast majority of their books, because just because I like one doesn’t mean I’ll like them all, but some authors that I would love read more from include: Nina Varela, Katherine Arden and Nicki Pau Preto, because I loved their writing styles, which should be a constant in their books, and the stories they wove.
8: Newest fictional crush
I don’t really get book crushes anymore, so this is irrelevant. If I change this question, one of my favourite love interests this year was Po from Graceling, he’s kind and sweet, and I love him and Katsa together, they deserve each other so much.
9: Newest favourite character
This is sort of repeat answer, but probably my new favourite character is Katsa from Graceling. She is so strong and fierce, and is just the right balance of good but not too good, if you know what I mean. The fact that it would be so easy for her to simply close her eyes and do horrible deeds, and simply descend into that, and yet she chooses to do some good in a world that only wants to be cruel makes me really admire and love her. I also really loved all the characters from Chain of Gold, the newest Shadowhunter book – Cassandra Clare has such a talent for writing vivid and loveable characters, and I can’t wait to read more about them.
10: Book that made you cry
I really wish that I was the type of person who cried over books, but I’m just not. I often struggle to get emotionally attached to books, so I never cry over them. I did reread one of my childhood favourites this year, To Be A Cat by Matt Haig and I did find it moving in ways I didn’t when I read it as a child, but no tears.
11: Book that made you happy
Rereading Percy Jackson and the Olympians this year actually made me so happy! I haven’t read the books for so long, and they were never really my favourites as a kid, so most of the knowledge I retained about them comes from the two awful movies. It was just so much fun and reminded me of better times. Plus, I just loved them a whole lot more reading them now for some reason – Percy is super funny and I love all the characters and world-building – I’m so ready to read the next series!
12: Most beautiful book you’ve acquired so far this year
I love nothing more than beautiful books! I think the cover of The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena is STUNNING. I also love the cover of The Tropic of the Serpents by Marie Brennan, and finally, I have preordered Cinderella Is Dead which is also gorgeous. But literally all the books are so stunning this year, its so hard to choose a favourite.
13: What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
All of them, as always. I have been working on reducing my large pile of books I haven’t read, and it’s been going pretty well so far. I need to get to Kingsbane by Claire Legrand before the third book comes out in October, and I would like to focus on some of the non-fiction books I have, like The Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman. But mostly I want to read just what I want to read and not feel pressured to read books because of hype on the internet.
That sums up my reading year so far! Like I said, I have been reading slower this year but I don’t think that’s affecting my enjoyment of the books at all. Tell me what your favourite books of the year so far are! And have any disappointed you?