Hi everyone! Today I bring to you my most anticipated post of the entire year, my top 10 reads of 2020. For me, 2020 has been a year where I truly immerse myself into the YA category and start on my historical fiction journey. Thanks to book blogging, I have uncovered so many amazing books, I can guarantee that 80% of these books were recommended by you all, and I am grateful for that.
Before we start I would like to just mention that as I reflected on my top few reads of the year, I am both thrilled and disappointed. Thrilled that I found so many amazing books but disappointed due to the lack of diversity, with many of these books being by White authors… as an Asian myself, I would have loved to have read more diverse books. I think why this happened was partially because this is my third month of blogging and I have mostly been catching up on all the “popular” books in the bookish world, most of which aren’t the most diverse. However, I am thankful to be aware and will definitely be diversifying my reads in 2021.
Another thing I would like to mention would be that I’m including other reviews of my top 10 books from blogs I love and follow, this is because an overly excited Cherelle is 100% biased and not the most coherent, plus the other reviews are really well written so you should check them out!
First, here are some honourable mentions because I had too many good books and could not only feature 10!
HONOURABLE MENTIONSWarcross by Marie Lu: Warcross is incredibly atmospheric and the virtual reality world building is so so immersive. Marie Lu delivers a plot that twists and turns and twists and turns and… (you get it) as we journey with Emika, one of the most feisty and coolest characters ever. Must read for sci-fi fans! Unlocked by Shannon Messenger: Ahh another installment in the never-ending Keeper of the Lost Cities series! This book lacked in action but definitely made up with the banter (YES LEX AND BEX AND REX) despite the darker tone, as well as those legit game changers. And the series guide was SO amazing, my admiration for the world building is now at another level! Renegades by Marissa Meyer: Marissa Meyer absolutely swept me away with The Lunar Chronicles… perhaps it was because I read that series first that I didn’t love Renegades as much. But I still enjoyed it a lot! The superpowers and morally grey aspect made this series a compelling read! We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter: The remarkable thing about We Were the Lucky Ones is how it managed to weave about 6 points of view into a flowing story brimming with so much love and familial relationships. This was one of the first books that I happy cried (though there was ugly cry too) and I truly recommend this uplifting world war 2 novel. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: Wow. Breathtaking. I totally get how The Midnight Library won the GR choice awards. It deals with pretty dark themes of suicide and depression but I absolutely loved how it weaved quantum physics, mental health, philosophy and life into such a hopeful story. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman: The fact that a 70+ page novella can leave me in tears and resonate so much with is enough reason for you to read it. The relationship between Noah and his grandpa is so endearing and Backman deals with the topic of dementia with so much sensitivity and grace that I am both in awe and in tears. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes: Ladies who don’t conform. Who want to spread the love of literacy to rural area. Plus lots of friendships and hopes and dreams. Read it. Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian: Ash Princess and Lady Smoke were so-so reads for me but I am extremely glad I carried on with the last book because woahh… the plot was impressive, I loved the political intrigue alternating with the battles and magic… and oh my gosh that ending. *shocked pikachu face*
10 THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
“I am haunted by humans.”
The Book Thief follows Liesel, a girl who just became an orphan, as she adapts to her foster family and witnesses all the brutality in that time of war. This book is painfully real and we can truly see a young, innocent girl’s response to these horrors, and how she still tries to show love.Despite the dark overtone, this book is also filled with many moments of love and hope with all the family and (unlikely) friendships. Oh and did I mention that this book is narrated from Death’s point of view?
- Other reviews to check out: Tiction @ Fictionally Crazy
09 THE HUNTRESS by Kate Quinn
“Not a sky witch, or even a water-bound lake witch. Something else. Something new. Nina looked around at the ladies of the 588th, all of them that made up something the world had never seen before, and saw smiles tugging their lips, flashes of teeth showing in private, pleased grins. Night Witches.”
In The Huntress, we see 3 vastly different protagonists: one, a woman who was a pilot in the war with a messed up childhood. Two, a journalist devoting his time to tracking down war criminals and is determined to find The Huntress. Three, a young lady whose life got turned upside down and crosses paths with the two.
Apart from the incredibly complex characters, I loved how much they failed. Like Kate does not give them a easy time in their mission. They lose lead after lead and end up at dead ends all the time. Furthermore, I loved how the storyline was weaved through all three storylines of different time periods, each holding equal significance. I was gasping so many time at the cleverly planted clues and subversions of expectations.If you want strong but flawed characters with pasts, action action all the way, as well as a meaningful exploration of guilt and justice (oh and banter too!), then do yourself a favour and pick up The Huntress.
- Other reviews to check out: Siena @ Booksophobia
08 THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab
“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives—or to find strength in a very long one.”
If you didn’t know already, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue follows Addie who makes a deal with the devil to live forever. But everyone who meets her will forget her. Until she meets someone 300 years later who does. I’m not going to rant about it too long because I think everyone has enough of talk about this book haha (but if you’re interested, you can read my full review) but the few key things I loved was the premise, the writing, the characters and the themes. (okay that is more than “a few” lol)The premise of this book was so creative and I think it truly dug deep to resonate with us, reliving our fear of not being remembered and desire to make our mark on the world somewhere. Addie LaRue is a slow read, and repetitive. I disliked that element at first, but then I realised how well they set the tone for the book and reflected Addie’s own bleak, monotonous life and allowed me to understand her more deeply. Add on V.E. Schwab’s phenomenal writing. Plus the characters and their backstories. (gonna stop here and not transform this into a full length review)
- Other reviews to check out: Jawahir @ The Never Ending Chronicles of Jawahir the Bookworm | May @ Dreamer of Books and Coffee | Alex @ The Scribe Owl | Lia @ Chain of Novels
07 A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES Series by Sarah J. Maas
It was the world building in the series that captured my heart first. The world of Prythian is so scenic and intricately crafted, I loved the different courts with their values and relations with others. The complexity of the world was made even more so with the rich history between the faeries and the humans uncovered slowly, I gobbled all that up. And of course, the charming characters. Feyre’s growth arc across the series was just astounding. And all the other side characters who emerged in A Court of Mist and Fury were my favourites (we stan a found family!)… the banter and care and hopes they all shared was so sweet! Update 2021: I am now aware that Sarah J. Maas is a problematic author and will hence stop openly promoting her books.
“To the stars who listen… and the dreams that are answered.”
- Other reviews to check out: Becky @ Dusts of Magic | Georgia @ Lost in Neverland | Allison @ Universe Within Pages
06 THIS TENDER LAND by William Kent Krueger
“Of all that we’re asked to give others in this life, the most difficult to offer may be forgiveness.”
This Tender Land follows Odie, a white boy in the Lincoln Indian Training School where Native American children are educated. However, Odie gets into some serious trouble and flees along with some of his friends on a journey to find a home.
This Tender Land was narrated from Odie’s POV and I loved this 12 year old boy’s voice. It was so realistic, a combination of childishness and some maturity as he dealt with tough topics such as forgiveness and faith.
And I simply adore the four orphan vagabonds, each of them on their own genuine journey to find home, to find out who they were… Their friendship turn family was so endearing and made me bawl both eyeballs out.
The writing was also poetic with beautiful metaphors, the setting so lush and vivid which as so apt given the connection to the land this book touched on! Truly a masterpiece!
05 A LIST OF CAGES by Robin Roe
“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.”
- Other reviews to check out: Belle @ This Belle Reads Too
04 AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir
“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.”
Phew, I think I don’t think I have recovered from the huge hangover from Sky but let me share with you why you. must. read. this. series.Laia and Elias have officially been branded my favourite characters and those that need-to-be-protected-at-all-costs. For a good reason. For Laia, her character arc through the books is simply remarkable. She isn’t your typical YA heroine who starts out all strong and badass, instead she is weak and ordinary and makes a mistake and as her courage and confidence grows we still see her falter big time, and I loved it. Elias, oh my goodness don’t get me started, I loved (actually hated lol) how honourable he was and always sacrificing his time and effort and soul for others, his struggle between duty and freedom across the books was so incredibly written! Another thing I loved about this series were the side characters, their relationships, identities and roles were significant plot points and I gobbled it all up. The last thing I want to mention would be the world building. As much as I loved the Ember Quartet, no way would I want to go on the adventures with them because their empire. Is. Brutal. The series was so realistic in portraying hardships, so intense with how high the stakes are… I am just in awe of how it was created.
- Other reviews to check out: Sam @ Literary Delirium | Abby @ Beyond the Read (book 4) | Nehal @ Books and Words | Leah @ Leah’s Books
03 LOVELY WAR by Julie Berry
“If music stops, and art ceases, and beauty fades, what have we then?”
Lovely War is a stunningly beautiful book that will slip in and wreck you. So PLEASE do yourself a favour and go read it. Thanks for coming to my TED talk. (ALSO, it’s narrated by Greek Gods, kay!!)
02 THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles is probably the most astute definition of my soul. The first book follows Cinder who is both a cyborg and a mechanic, in a time where a disease plagues the population of New Beijing and finds herself entangled with a lot of big business. Some of the main reasons why The Lunar Chronicles is both a comfort read and an intense read = favourite read for me would be the characters. Marissa Meyer just brings these characters from fairytales and twists them into something new and sh-sh-shocking. Like Cinder as a cyborg mechanic? *ahhh* Not only are the concepts of the characters, their backstory and all, insanely creative, the development of them and their personalities is also stunning. (and also all that sass and sarcasm!) Each character is so unique and has their own vulnerabilities, such as self-identity which I found could resonate deeply with me. It is just so inspiring to see them overcome these blocks and rise up the occasion with the duty to save the world, making me root for them all the way. (especially seeing all these girls who are being discriminated/bullied rise up *scream scream scream*)
“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.”
We have all these complex characters already and Marissa Meyer goes one step further and BOOM adds a newfound family trope to it which makes me melt. And adds fantastic world-building. Plus themes of discrimination etc. And sprinkles so much good and shocking (well, most of the time) plot… every time you see a nod to the original fairytale, you really can’t help but smile at the subtleness and ingenuity.
- Other reviews to check out: Noelle @ Wordgazing and Magic | Lilly @ Lilly’s Little Library | April @ Booked Till Midnight | Lauren @ Twenty-Seven Letters
01 SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
Imma jump right into all the hype and be yelling “No mourners, no funerals” with all my breath. Because Six of Crows was simply ELECTRIC. It mastered the misfits with clashing personalities and pasts banding together and finding a “family”. I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS, 6 unique ones with so much depth within less than 500 pages, all outcasts and criminals and morally grey characters but each determined and incredibly uplifting to read about whether it be their courage, wit or even trickery. GIVE ME ALL THE SASS AND BANTER AND BROKENNESS AND TRYING TO HEAL AND RELATIONSHIPS AND CRAZINESS AND EVEN GREED. GIMME. The characters are so real, so horrible to the extent of being lovable and the different romantic and friend friend relationships evolving between all of them gets me EMO. EVERY. TIME. Even after reading a one-liner quote. We say no to over-intricate and obsessive plots, yes? But Six of Crows is incredibly intricate and so detailed and PURE BRILLIANCE. The different plans for the heists, the way everything planned goes into the dumpster and crazy things start happening and them somehow finding a way out (I NEED KAZ’S BRAIN. ONE BRAIN CELL WOULD SUFFICE. JUST ONE. PLEASE???). When they teeter on the edge of dying, literally going with the flow at such a rapid pace… I’m just breathless I am lost I am nonexistent. And the instances when they wing it? YES YES this is my reason for existence.
“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”
In short, this duology is at the tip of my tongue many many all the time. And my favourite book of 2020 for a reason. Go read it and have the time of your life AND STOP MISSING OUT OKAY!
- Other reviews to check out: Kirsten @ The Novel Existence | Sunny @ Revolution Reading | Ahaana @ Windows to Worlds
And we are done! Oh my goodness I had so much fun writing about all my new favourites, though I am pained as I feel so bad for ranking some lower than others and have to resist the urge to change the rankings ahhh. I’m truly grateful that I’ve managed to discover so many incredible books this year. Thank you for reading!