Curating lists like this is so hard. How do you narrow down what you loved when you’ve consumed so much media? I’ve adored so many books this year but I’ve managed to narrow it down to five books to go into detail about and another five that I’ll just list.
Unsurprisingly, this list is very sci-fi and fantasy heavy. There are no sequels in either of the lists so if you’re looking for a good book to start off your new year with then you can always check out some of these ;).
One final thing I want to add before we get into the meat of this obviously amazingly curated list, I want to say that four of the five books on the main list are diverse in some way. And if there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that we should be supporting more diverse media and we should be doing it all the time. We shouldn’t just be buying books by black authors because another black person has been murdered, we shouldn’t be picking queer books up because it’s pride month or someone has been outed. And we should definitely be reading more books about and by people with disabilities.
The world is a varied place and that is beautiful. Some of the books on this list may be good places to start but I’ll be hoping to see a lot more diverse books on other people’s lists next year – if they aren’t already on this years that is!
So let’s get into what you’re actually here for! These books are in no particular order, please don’t ask me to rank them as I wouldn’t be able to!
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
This book! This book! Don’t you just adore that cover to start with? It’s absolutely stunning and one that I was hyped for from the second I heard about it. It follows Sheetal, the daughter of a star and a mortal who has been growing up on earth missing her mother. But when her magic goes awry and she accidentally hurts her father, she has to travel to the celestial courts to find her mother and to ask to heal her father. But she winds up involved in a competition for the sake of her mother’s family which is more than she ever expected.
I loved this book so much. I don’t know much about Hindu mythology, I barely remember any of the little of it we learned in primary school. So this book opened my eyes again and made me want to read more on it. The celestial magic was fascinating and seeing all the clothes, food and culture were just wonderous. I devoured this book so quickly and it was just as good as I thought it would be! I have a review of it here if you’re interested.
Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp
This was probably my last favourite book I’ll read this year so it had to make it onto the list. I’m truly learning to love YA thrillers and the queer and disabled characters involved in a mystery that’s closely involved with roleplay? C’mon, this book is so me that I was obviously going to be obsessed.
Even if We Break follows five friends who have gone away to a cabin for the weekend for what’s supposed to be the last session of their roleplaying game. Four of them are hiding secrets and that’s been causing tension and making trouble with them as they slowly fall apart. But they had no clue that someone might have tracked them down who wants them dead. And it’s all they can do is to try and survive.
This book was so fast-paced. I will admit that it gets a little slow after the killer is dealt with. There are some resolutions of plot points as they try to get home and that did feel like it dragged a little bit. But I still read this book in one session. The tension, the mystery, the characters. All of it was so good and you really felt for some of the characters. Even if some of them have been doing wrong. If you’re looking for a thriller that you can’t put down then this is definitely the book for you.
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
With this book featuring my new book boyfriend and the fact I was begging for an ARC of it, this book had to be on this list. It just HAD to! This is an amazing fantasy read set in historical Italy following Emilia as she tries to find the murderer of her sister and winds up involved with the Wicked. The Princes of Hell.
Yes, in a lot of ways this will be your very typical dark YA fantasy for older teens. I don’t think it quite reaches new adult but it’s got clothes, demons, food and the hint of something steamy without going into the mature categories. This book feels completely different to the Stalking Jack the Ripper books which I loved but it works really well.
If you’re looking for something fun that will draw you in quickly, this is the book for you. Just don’t read it hungry. If you want a little more you can check out my review!
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
The cover of this book is so shiny and beautiful in real life. Ahhhhh I love it so much and this book too. When I picked it up I wound up half-listening to the audio and half-reading the physical book as I was struggling to read at the time. And yet it absorbed me so much that I still loved it enough to put it on this list? What does that say about this book, huh?
This book follows two main characters; Karina, a Princess who has just lost her mother and wants to bring her back to life and Malik, a refugee who has to make a deal to try to kill her as payment to a powerful spirit for entering the city. There’s a lot more to it than that but it’s filled with romance, magic, hidden cities, spirits and whatever else you might think you’ll need. I believe that the rights of this have been sold so I’m super excited to see how this will translate on-screen and for the sequel next year.
Just ahhhh, I have the urge to reread this book right now as I’m a lot more focused and it deserves my whole attention.
The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis
The only adult book to reach this list, I was absolutely obsessed when I received this book. It’s one I’d never heard of until I saw a giveaway for it but I knew it would be amazing once I did and I’m glad I entered. This is an adult, very queer sci-fi cast with a fair-sized cast and a lot of character building and angst. It’s so damn good, and of course, my favourite was the sassy genderfluid person. I love them so much.
This story follows the First Sister, who is the top of a group of women that are basically prostitute nuns, Lito; a soldier with a difficult past and Hiro, a former soldier turned traitor who’s memories give no clue as to where they’ve gone but who is fascinating all the same. I found it really hard to describe this book. Because everything I want to say is spoiler-heavy and it’s best off if you go in not knowing this stuff.
But, man, this book is so worth it and it isn’t even if that thick. Even if you’re not usually a fan of adult sci-fi this is definitely a book to check out if you love character-driven narratives.
Once again you’ll find a review to this book here.
The Other Shortlisted Books
I said there would be another five books that I’ll quickly list. There were way more than this books I loved but these are a few others that I absolutely devoured!
- I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick (audio recommended)
- Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters
- Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
- Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
- Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
Did you love any of these? Let me know what’s on your top books of 2020 list!