Tuesday, January 12, 2021

My Favourite Books of 2020

One of the things the pandemic actually help me with last year was focusing a little more time on reading - I was pretty stressed out and made it a nightly habit to read before bed, instead of staring at my phone, to help me calm down and sleep better! I have always been a big reader and I typically listen to a lot of audiobooks because I have a bit of a lengthy commute to work. But, I certainly read the most I have in years in 2020, totalling 90 books! (I set my goal for the year at 45 books, which is about what I read in the previous years, so I was pretty impressed with 90!)

I will read anything, and I know a lot of people say that, but I read every genre (maybe a little less sci-fi), but fantasy, non-fiction, young adult, literary fiction, graphic novels, I will try it all! I'm hoping in 2021, to add a little more book content to the blog - it will still be primarily beauty, but this is a hobby I am putting more time in to and I love to share what I'm loving with everyone! 

My Favourite Books of 2020
I purchased all these myself - this post contains affiliate links

So of the 90 books I read this year, I have a top 12 to share as my favourites - these are every book I gave a 5/5 or a 4.5/5 stars too for a rating, and I know 12 is not a pretty number, but I could not take any one of these off the list, so I knew they were all the best of the best! 

Also, I was a little surprised that most very fantasy, romance or fiction - I guess, these were really good escapist books this year and with everything 2020 brought for us, I needed books to help me escape reality for a while! 

Here is a closer look at the books (somewhat in order from my #1 - #12, but this could change on any given day depending on my mood - they are all good!)

My Favourite Books of 2020

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens ~ This was a book that I was actually pretty hesitant to read, I don't always love the most hyped up books and find they can sometimes be disappointing, but the plot of this one sounded great, so I picked it and I was not disappointed. It is about a young girl, Kya, who has essentially been left on her own to raise herself in the marsh with only a few allies to help her on the way. One day, a popular boy in town is found dead and Kya is the main suspect. 

This book was incredibly atmospheric, and the author made you feel like you were in the marsh and knew your surroundings even if you have never seen a marsh, which was very important to the story. This is a slower paced story, with a lot of focus on setting and character development, but it is evenly paced through the whole book. I found myself rooting for Kya, as this story is about her resilience, but it's also a little bit of a murder mystery, with just a hint of romance and I was pretty hooked! I listened to it on audiobook and loved it, but had to pick it up so I can lend it out and have more people meet Kya! 

Legendary by Stephanie Garber ~ Okay, this is the second book in a trilogy, so it's best to read it after Caraval, but I couldn't not include it because it was my favourite book of the set and the plot was fantastic in this one (Caraval and Finale were great too, but this one was the best!) 

I won't say too much about this book because I don't want to spoil it if you haven't read the first, but the series is about sisters Scarlett and Donatella Dragna and while the first book was from Scarlett's perpective, this one was from Tella's point of view, and I found her to be the more interesting and exciting of the sisters so I enjoyed this. They are again swept up in to the magical game of Caraval and it's this engrossing game of magic and finding clues to win. This one had a great setting. It also introduces us to The Fates, which I love and play a big role in the third book! If you are looking for a fun, young adult fantasy series with games and magic, I would recommend these! 

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline ~ Cherie Dimaline is getting a ton of recognition for The Marrow Thieves, her recent young adult sci-fi/fantasy book, which I also quite enjoyed. But, the moment I finished this, I was wowed - it was really wild (you should pick that up from the title)! But, I actually hunted down all of her previous, lesser known books and plan on reading them in 2021 because she is a fantastic writer! If you are looking at picking up more Canadian and Indigenous authors this year, read Cheries books! 

Empire of Wild is about Joan, and Joan is kind of a mess because after a fight one night her husband Victor goes missing, never to be heard from, until one day she happens across him, now Reverend Eugene Wolff preaching in a Walmart parking lot and he has no recognition of who she is. Joan is determined to get Victor back and this book is the story of how she is going to get him back to her from this religious-cult-like group. The book is also loosely based on a traditional Métis story of the Rogarou, a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities. Cherie has this amazing way of writing with traditions, but also very futuristic/fantasy style!

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse ~ I will be honest, I hadn't heard anything about this book before I picked it up, and picked it up soley because of how stunning the cover was, but boy am I happy to have read this one! While I like fantasy, I don't read a ton of high fantasy and this book was a pretty serious fantasy novel - if this is your first introduction to this style, I might suggest the audiobook, as it is a full cast audiobook which was helpful for characters and settings (that's how I read this!) This is the start of a series, and I need the other ones to come out asap!

This book is described as being inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of prophecies, politics and magic. It goes back and forth between characters all on different sides of the story (the Sun Priest, the boy prophesied as the god, and a pirate/sea witch), working towards the day of The Convergence (an alignment of Sun, Moon and Earth), where it has been prophesied that a god will return. The plot was phenomenal, and the characters and setting were well developed! 

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery ~ This is such a classic, Canadian childhood story. I knew the story of Anne well, I've seen the shows, acted in the play in drama lessons and seen the Anne of Green Gables house when I was in PEI, but I can't recall ever reading the book on my own (maybe it was something that was read to me when I was younger, but not since I can remember), and honestly, it's such a feel good, heart-warming story - I read it and all I could think was that 2020 needed a few more Anne Shirleys too make everyone feel a little better. 

It is a story about Anne, an orphan who has been sent to live with the Cuthberts, but when she arrives, she discovers that they had actually requested a boy to help out with the farm work. Anne eventually wins them over before they can send her back, and this is all about her tenacity - she is a loving, passionate, firey girl with a big imagination and heart, but she also speaks her mind without thinking and can get in to a little trouble. Truly, just a fun uplifting classic story and you will fall in love with Anne! 

My Favourite Books of 2020

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab ~ This was one of the most hyped up books of the year, and I certainly jumped on the bandwagon - I really enjoyed V.E. Schwab's fantasy series I've read, and this book sounds amazing: it's about Addie LaRue who wants to get away from her life in France and makes a deal with the devil (or the god's after dark) to live forever; however, he makes it so that everyone she meets will forget her when she is out of sight. But, one day she bumps in to someone who remembers her. 

It is a slow build book, that bounces back and forth from present day to the past 300 years of Addie's life. It's a bit of a love story, but an unexpected one; but, it's also about Addie's ability to be resilient and her savvy in surviving a life that no one remembers her. I enjoyed watching her navigating situations and relationships. I liked the characters and I liked the build and I loved the ending! 

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ~ I felt the same about this book as Where The Crawdads Sings, I was worried because it was so hyped up that I wouldn't like it! But, I was so wrong - this book was great! It was my first time listening to a full cast audiobook and it was a real delight, I would highly recommend! It is written in an interview style and you bounce back between all the band members through the whole time, so you get a bunch of different perspectives as you go through the story which was very unique - it was like a documentary, and I'm really excited to see how this will translate to screen! (It was so well written and read that I actually had to google if this was a real band that I just didn't know about!)

This is about a young girl Daisy, teaming up with The Six and the fame that comes with this duo, but this was about more than just a rock band making great music in the 70s - they all had struggles, personal perspectives, relationships, love, heart break, addiction - this book had it all and you couldn't help feeling for all the characters! Really great! 

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill ~ This was the sweetest, cutest book/graphic novel I've ever read! The art is just amazing and I really want my very own tea dragon and all the tea dragon merch ever. This is actually a book that's really appropriate for middle grade and up!

This is a short graphic novel, but this is a series - the third book comes out in June and I've read all 3 and they are all lovely. This book is about Greta, who discovers a lost tea dragon and she then learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the tea shop owners and she discovers how the enriching the craft is. The story and characters are so sweet and the series touches on a lot of sensitive issues (grief, diverse relationships, disabilities) in a very approachable with the cutest characters. Love. 

Seance Tea Party by Reimena Yee ~ This was another younger/middle grade graphic novel and it was delightful - it was sweet, happy and sad all at the same time (it actually made me cry!) It is a coming of age story focusing on that in between time of getting older, but not being quite ready to get rid of the things from your childhood that you love. 

The book is about Lora who is feeling distanced from her friends who are getting in to newer hobbies as they are getting older, but Lora isn't quite ready, so she has a tea party where she meets Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house, and they soon become best friends; but, eventually their friendship has to change as well. I loved that this was a longer graphic novel as it felt like a very developed story - I loved the friendships and the whimsical feeling with a little hint of magic in there!

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren ~ This was my first book by romance writing duo Christina Lauren and I really enjoyed this! I really enjoyed some fun romance this year - it was a great escape book! It was funny and the banter with the characters in this hate to love style was hilarious. I read it in the Summer and thought it was a perfect Summer, romance read! 

This book is about Olive, who ends up on her sister's honeymoon trip with the best man (her brother-in-law's brother) after everyone but the two of them end up super sick following the wedding meal. They do not get along, but end up with a truce to go on the trip together and have to pretend they are newly weds. Of course, romance ensues, but in a fun root-for-them way. It also has a little drama and it was a fun read.

One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London ~ This book is about, Bea, a plus style fashion blogger who is approached to be lead of a reality dating show, Main Squeeze, after posting about the lack of size diversity on the show. She accepts, but tells herself that she is not going to fall in love on the show. As things get rolling, Bea realizes that things are more complicated than she expected and she was put through the wringer on the show, all while trying to maintain her confidence as a plus-size lead, through all the scrutiny of the media and contestants. 

I'm a big trashy reality t.v. fan, so this really appealed to me and I loved Bea - we watched her go through a lot of ups and downs and you were rooting for her to find love (I cried in the end - it was an unexpected ending, but a good one). I really enjoyed that writing style of this book that included normal writing, but also mixed media, emails podcast transcripts, blog posts and social media posts as different chapters recapping each episode. The only thing I didn't love was when a producer did something pretty terrible, and the "consequences" were not what I wanted. But overall, a really good read! 

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn ~ This is a young/new adult fantasy book - it is a little hard to explain, because it's a big book and there is a lot of content and plot (it is the start of a series!). It follows Bree, who is doing a residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC campus, after her mom dies in car accident, she is trying to get away from her childhood home and memories. But, she witnesses a magical attack and she is sucked in to this life of Legendborns who are a secret society trying to hunt the creatures down. She teams up with Nick to infiltrate the group, when when she discovers the group are descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming and she needs to decide whether to use her own magic to take down the group or join the fight. 

It's a lot to take in, but - whoa, but it's so good! I loved the main characters, and actually all the characters - there was great representative across sexualities and it was really refreshing to see. The book was fast-paced and all the events took place over only a couple of weeks, but I loved all the magical and secret society elements in it - they were well done. I thought the college campus was a good setting, but I just didn't understand the early college/high school thing - I think the characters could have easily just all been college early 20s age instead of 16-18 but at a college-not-high-school setting- I also think maybe it's just not something common in Canada so it confused me a little. But, great read! 

If you have GoodReads, I'd love to connect over there too - you can find my profile here! I always love to see what everyone is reading and find some new books and suggestions! I have set my 2021 Reading Goal at 60, but honestly, if I read at the same pace as I have been, I think it will be more than that! 

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