Favourite Reads of 2020

Title in white on pale starry stars

I’ve told myself that this year I’m only allowed one post rather than the several I got last year for being so indecisive.

As with last year, I started keeping track of this list early – from January this time. I made sure to note down every single 5-star read of the year so that the post was influenced by the more recent reads. When the time came to formally compile this list, I went through my reviews and picked the 10 books that just thinking about them gave me the biggest emotional/I need to re-read reaction.

My list this year is a bit surprising. It doesn’t reflect the leaning of my reading at all – YA fantasy hardly has a show in when it was over half of what I read. The three non-SFF titles reflect the 30% non-SFF read this year too.


10. THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LA RUE, by V. E. Schwab

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Book cover for THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LA RUE: title in white on dark blue surrounded by forget me notes and gold threads

I feel like THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LA RUE needs no introduction after the extensive publicity and enormous success it has enjoyed this year – and well deserved too. This is a breathtakingly written book, with a prose that utterly sweeps you into this world that feels like a twilight-version of ours.

I was a bit hesitant going in – it’s more literary leaning than I tend to enjoy, and it’s been so hyped that I was nervous it would be another let down. But I struggled to put this book down, and I’m hoping this might propel me to read more literary reading fantasy in 2021.

9. AN UNAUTHORISED FAN TREATISE, by Lauren James

Genre: Thriller
Age Range: YA
Cover for AN UNAUTHORISED FAN TREATISE: title in blue on grey, as if it's a screenshot of a blog page

I am sure I could quibble with someone over whether AN UNAUTHORISED FAN TREATISE counts as a book or not (if it’s on Goodreads, it counts in my opinion). It is an online serialised story, though I think it is going to be adapted into a book? I’m pretty sure it’s linked to one of her contracted projects somehow.

Either way, this thriller was such an twisty tale, and I devoured it one afternoon, so grateful all instalments were released. The reveal of information is brilliant – a study in how to do pace it out to be explore the consequences and yet engage the audience. Not to mention how many times I had to reassess EVERYTHING I thought I knew.

8. SKYWARD, by Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Sci-fi
Age Range: YA

SKYWARD is the second Brandon Sanderson I’ve read – except I listened to this book. I was just about ready to give up on audiobooks, but thought I’d check this one out – and I could not stop listening.

The UK narrator is Sophie Aldred, and she was superb. She didn’t put on two dozen voices, but she modulated her voice to make the different characters distinct. She brings the world and story to life as Spensa fights to join the star pilots and protect her world.

7. STORM FROM THE EAST, by Joanna Hathaway

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA

The first YA fantasy on the list, STORM FROM THE EAST is the second in the Glass Alliance trilogy, a series that is fast becoming one of my absolute favourites. I will be so sad when it wraps up in 2021, though I cannot wait for the last instalment.

This is a World War Two inspired political fantasy (I’ve been calling it WW1 – oops!) The aerial dogfights are brilliant, as are the ways this book really delves into the consequences of war on both civilians and soldiers alike. Alongside this, the twisty political tale of the motivations and underhand dealings of war continues.

6. LOVE FROM A TO Z, by S. K. Ali

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Range: YA
Book cover for LOVE FROM A TO Z: block drawn title on blue with images of main characters leaning on letters

LOVE FROM A TO Z was an utter surprise when I read it on the recommendation of a friend who would not stop raging about it. It is a contemporary romance, a genre I usually avoid with a barge pole, so I picked it up with some trepidation. However I was in flood of tears when I read it.

It is not a sad book – they weren’t tears because my heart was put through the ringer. It’s actually really uplifting. No, I was crying because this was the first time I’ve seen such staunch, unwavering faith in a relationship portrayed in such a positive light.

5. THE OBISIDIAN TOWER, by Melissa Caruso

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult

Was there every any doubt that Melissa Caruso’s latest offering would be on this list? THE OBSIDIAN TOWER is the first in her new trilogy, set in the same world but 150 years after her debut trilogy. This time, instead of following the (human) Raverrans, we have a Vaskasran MC – the Raverrans’ historic enemies.

It was a brilliant, intricate story deftly woven – as I’ve come to expect. I loved all the little easter eggs to the original trilogy, but they did not overpower the story with nostalgia. Instead, Ryk takes the reins of her own story with aplomb.

4. THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS, by Micaiah Johnson

Genre: Sci-fi
Age Range: Adult

THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS is a stunning debut that I almost missed out on as the cover didn’t grab me. The mystery at the heart of this parallel world sci-fi threaded it all together in a highly readable fashion, but what really stood out was the concept.

It is such a high concept book – you can only access alternate realities where your alter-self is dead. Luckily, the book lives up to this concept, and really cleverly written. I feel like I cannot truly appreciate the whole story unless I read it again knowing what’s to come. Given how avidly I re-read, I love the feeling that I will get more out of a book on a second run.

3. A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAGICIANS, by H. G. Parry

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Book cover for A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAGICIANS: title in white and red surrounded by gold swirls and a red wax seal

Part of me wonders if the reason I have not been able to stop thinking about A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAGICIANS is because I am writing a book that will perfectly comp to this one. However, that would be underselling this book.

Set in an alternative world that almost perfectly resembles the 1700s except for magic, this politically fantasy cleverly weaves magic into history, throwing a new perspective on the French Revolution and English politics. I loved how realistic the world felt, and how closely the real events were mirrored by this book.

2. HOLD BACK THE TIDE, by Melinda Salisbury

Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Age Range: YA

The only other YA fantasy on this list, HOLD BACK THE TIDE is Melinda Salisbury’s sixth outing – and the one she decided to make really hard to classify or describe.

Partly fantasy, partly horror, partly eco-thriller, this atmospheric read is set in a fictional Scottish Highlands where a papermill is draining the local loch, endangering the town. It was impossible to put down – I picked it up and devoured in about three hours as I followed Alva with increasing dread as the story unfolded. It is a stunning, must read for all fans of the unnerving.

1. GOOD GIRL, BAD BLOOD, by Holly Jackson

Genre: Thriller
Age Range: YA

The sequel to my favourite read of 2019, GOOD GIRL, BAD BLOOD returns to Pip and Ravi’s town somewhere in the English countryside for another gripping thriller. The multi-media mix is even more obvious in this book, and it works so well to tell the story.

The world hung onto Pip’s every word as she released a podcast detailing her attempts to solve a cold case, but now everyone is watching as she tries to locate a missing friend. Red herrings abound as the pressure mounts, and there are secrets hiding in her town people will go to any length to protect.


Honourable Mentions:

  • THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS/AS THE SHADOWS RISES, by Katy Rose Pool
  • DARK SKIES, by Danielle L. Jensen
  • HAVENFALL, by Sara Holland
  • VENOM, by Bex Hogan
  • THE EMPIRE OF DREAMS, by Rae Carson
  • A THOUSAND SHIPS, by Natalie Haynes
  • ISLE OF BLOOD AND STONE, by Maiika Lucier
  • THE EMPIRE OF GOLD, by S. A. Chakraborty

What were your favourite books of 2020?

23 thoughts on “Favourite Reads of 2020

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