2020 is finally over (thank goodness), so you know what that means… It’s time for my annual Best Books of the Year list!
The thing is, I was in a really bad reading slump for the first few months of 2020. I honestly don’t think I picked up a book until the beginning of April! But thankfully, I still managed to bounce back and read tons of fantastic books in 2020! I devoured over 100 novels last year, so it’s difficult to narrow them down to a select few favorites, but I’m going to try! I’m not going to be including rereads, because that would defeat the whole purpose of this list, don’t you think? The following books are ones that I discovered this year and fell absolutely IN LOVE with. If you follow me on Bookstagram, you’ve probably seen me gush about them endlessly on my stories and posts! I’ve probably mentioned some of them here on my blog as well! But there are quite a few that I haven’t talked much about, which is why I’m so excited to be sharing this list with you all!
I’ll be listing these books in no particular order. As we all know, I’m an extremely indecisive person, and being forced to rank my favorite books is basically the worst form of torture I can think of. These books were all so good, and while I enjoyed some more than others, ranking them would be wayyyy too stressful. So let’s just… not???
Oh, and just to be clear, these are all books that I READ in 2020, not books that CAME OUT in 2020 (though some of them did)!
Now, with that out of the way… LET’S DIVE RIGHT IN!
Ladies, gents, and gentlefolk, allow me to introduce you to THE BEST BOOKS I READ IN 2020!!!!! Starting with…
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
I picked this book up on a whim with literally no expectations at all, since I’ve read hardly any rom-com novels. But I ended up absolutely LOVING it. Maui is probably my favorite place on the entire planet, so getting to visit the island alongside our main characters, Olive and Ethan, resurfaced so many happy, pre-pandemic memories. Olive and Ethan have such sizzling chemistry, and I’m pretty sure I shipped them from their very first interaction. Their witty banter was charming and hilarious, but Christina Lauren also did a fantastic job of showing us what a healthy relationship looks like through their romance. Olive and Ethan challenge each other in the best ways possible, and throughout the book, they have so many important yet difficult conversations with one another that you don’t often see in the rom-com genre. This meant SO much to me, because I love how we get to see the light hearted, playful side of their romance as well as the serious side. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find another rom-com novel as good as The Unhoneymooners, but it has definitely left me wanting to explore the genre more! As someone who mainly reads fantasy, I’m really happy that I took a leap outside of my comfort zone and decided to read this book! It was absolutely fantastic, and reading it was utter bliss!
Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi
It’s impossible to put my love for this book into words… It took me completely by surprise! I was quite scared to pick up Defy Me, because I had heard from other fans of the Shatter Me series that it was a very disappointing installment in the series. But I ended up LOVING IT. The tone of Defy Me was far more emotional than the tone of the previous Shatter Me novels, and I think that’s why I loved it so much. There were so many scenes that had me tearing up, and I think that it’s truly incredible when a book is capable of drawing that much emotion out of a reader! Juliette, Warner, and Kenji continue to go through so much wonderful character development in this novel, and getting to read through all of their perspectives was a dream come true. They each have something valuable to contribute to the story, and I know that without a doubt, this book wouldn’t have been the same if it was only told through Juliette’s perspective (I love her, of course, but Warner and Kenji are amazing too)! These characters have my whole heart, and I can’t express how much I love and connect with them. I finished this book weeks ago, but Juliette, Warner, and Kenji are still constantly on my mind, and carry them in my heart everywhere I go. I’m not sure if I’ll ever read another series as beautiful and addictive as this one, and while I understand that it has it’s flaws, it will always be very special to me. I’ll definitely be reading it again in 2021… it’s left me with the WORST book hangover EVER!
One Way or Another by Kara McDowell
I was lucky enough to receive this book as an ARC earlier in the year, and it ended up being one of my favorite books of 2020! With a relatable main character, a swoonworthy love interest, an adorable romance, and phenomenal mental health rep, One Way or Another was the YA contemporary novel of my DREAMS! And guess what? It’s also a Christmas book! What could be better than that? Pretty much nothing, if you ask me! I flew through One Way or Another in just one sitting, the endless fun, hilarity, and charm of the story giving it a sort of addictive quality. Paige, our protagonist, was someone I could really relate to, and it felt so good to see some of my own inner struggles mirrored through her. Overall, this book is simply fantastic, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether it’s the holiday season or not! Even though it’s a Christmas novel, One Way or Another is a book that can be enjoyed any time of year (I should know, I read it in August)! Its heartwarming themes, fabulous mental health rep, and wholesome romance all make it an absolutely spectacular story. I truly cannot recommend it enough!
Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoaka
Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoaka is yet another 2020 release that I received as an ARC last year! And guess what? It was BREATHTAKING! I have only just begun to dip my toe into YA contemporary these past few months, but Everything I Thought I Knew showed me just how beautiful and heartbreaking the genre can be. It is a powerful and beguiling story of love, loss, hope, reality, and heartache, and every single second of it was wonderful. It captivated my imagination from the very first page, and before I knew it, I was done with it! I rarely read books in a single sitting, but this one easily made an exception! Shannon Takaoka’s writing is classically stunning, and her words just flow so smoothly across the pages. Not only that, but her characters were so easy to love and relate to, and it was a delight to see them develop throughout the novel. All in all, this book was simply fantastic, and whether you’re a contemporary reader or not, I HIGHLY encourage giving it a read!
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s trilogy really snuck up on me in 2020! I’d known about it for quite awhile, but for some reason, I never felt strongly about picking it up. What a fool I was, because this trilogy was FANTASTIC! It’s one of those series that just gets better and better every book, and that’s why the third book, The Winner’s Kiss, made it on this list! It was the perfect finale to this wonderful trilogy, though I will confess, there were times where I was FURIOUS at Marie Rutkoski for messing with my emotions so much! I didn’t realize how attached I’d become to our main characters, Kestrel and Arin, until they were forced to go through so much devastation in this novel. They’re easily two of my all time favorite characters, as they are both so thoughtfully written! I love them AND the Winner’s trilogy endlessly… I can definitely see myself rereading it in the future!
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Wow! Just wow. Reading Aurora Rising reminded me how much I LOVE science fiction! It was my first Kaufman-Kristoff novel, and I couldn’t be more impressed by it! It’s one of those rare books that is equally plot-driven AND character-driven. The plot is fueled by constant action, suspense, and wild spaceship chases, making it nearly impossible to put the book down! And the characters??? Oh boy, where do I even start?! They were all so complex and interesting! I think my favorites have to be Kal and Scarlett, but I truly do love all of them. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are both incredibly talented authors, and I’m beyond excited to dive into more of their work in 2021. It’s only a matter of time before I start Aurora Rising’s sequel, Aurora Burning!
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
The Queen of Nothing was a sensational conclusion to the Folk of the Air trilogy! Jude and Cardan are some of my all-time favorite characters, and I love how even in this final installment, Holly Black never shied away from writing them out to be extremely morally grey. Characters that have a little (or a lot) of wickedness in them are always the ones I find most interesting, and that’s why I adore Jude and Cardan so much! This series has been quite a wild ride, and while I’m terribly said that it’s over, I know that I’ll definitely be re-reading it in the future! If you haven’t read it yet, you MUST! It’s such an enchanting, magical series that will leave you with the WORST book hangover once you finish it. Holly Black is a truly amazing author, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
The Shadows Between Us was such an entertaining read! It had a fast-moving plot, addictive romance, and fascinating characters. The protagonist, Alessandra, was downright EVIL, and I absolutely loved that. Like I mentioned before, I always find myself most drawn to characters who are morally grey, and that’s exactly was Alessandra was! She was calculating, selfish, and violent, but all the same, I was so intrigued by her character. Would I want to be friends with someone like Alessandra in real life? Well, probably not. But I LOVED getting to read through her perspective, as she was such a fun character to get to know! I highly recommend The Shadows Between Us if you’re looking for a short, captivating story that will have you hooked until the very last page!
All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
All the Stars and Teeth is the fantasy novel I never knew I needed, for it contains ALL of my favorite fantastical elements. Princesses, mermaids, pirates, magic, sea monsters, curses… What’s not to love?! Nothing, if you ask me! I loved every single second of this book, and by the time I finished it, I felt so close with the four main characters: Amora, Vataea, Bastian, and Ferrick. They were all so different and complex, I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. I swear, if anything bad happens to them in the upcoming sequel, All the Tides of Fate, I WILL SCREAM!!
Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Danielle L. Jensen is one of the new authors I discovered in 2021, and I am simply in awe of her work! So far, my favorite book by her is Stolen Songbird. It took my breath away with its vivid world building, sizzling romance, and complex characters. Cecile and Tristan, our main characters, were both very easy to root for, and the chemistry they had with one another was so addictive! The magic system in this novel is spectacularly developed as well, as it completely debunks everything you think you know about certain mythical creatures. This was such a thoughtful and unique approach for Danielle L. Jensen to take, and it’s especially impressive since Stolen Songbird is her debut novel. In short, if you’re searching for a delightful fantasy novel that will allow you to escape reality for a few hours, Stolen Songbird is definitely the book for you!
What a wonderful reading year!
I know that as a whole, 2020 was an absolutely horrendous year, but I feel extremely lucky that I managed to find solace in so many wonderful books amidst all the confusion and chaos. It is my sincerest hope that you all were able to enjoy some fantastic reads last year too!
Cheers to a better 2021!