When I made this list last year, there were 35 books that had 5 stars from me, and this year that number has risen to 45! Once again, I have to reiterate:
And nope, I am NOT GOING TO CHOOSE! Here you have all my 5-star first-reads of 2020! (Click through for reviews/links to GR)
October Daye by Seanan McGuire
The October Daye series is a new favorite – with most of the book getting 4-stars from me, and these being my favorites among them. I didn’t think I would start a 10+ books series anytime soon, but Rosemary & Rue had me hooked. It is about a half-faerie (aka changeling) who used to be private investigator, and now she solves mysteries for the faerie realm, after losing 14 years of her life, and her connection to her family while on a case. During the series, she takes on big challenges, even going up against some powerhouses of faerie, battling monsters and monarchs alike. Also, the narrator for the audiobooks (Mary Robinette Kowal) is quite good, so I enjoyed listening to them!
The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaires was a series I picked up on a whim, and I was so thoroughly invested within the first book itself, I read them one after another voraciously. The space setting and futuristic sci-fi elements were exciting enough, but the main character being a misanthropic robot (human-AI mix with human-like body) who would rather watch online streams than fulfill their directive of being a heartless (literally) killer bot was too perfect! It has humor, high stakes, some pet humans, a cheeky AI, and more. I’m so looking forward to reading Fugitive Telemetry (the 6th book) as my first read of 2021!
Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo
What happens when you have a high class spy, an accomplished assassin, and a tiny psychic? You get a perfect family, of course! Or at least, one that is appearing to be perfect! Said spy, Twilight, adopts the psychic, Ana, and marries the assassin, Yor, (who btw belongs to his enemy nation), without knowing about their secrets, and puts up a persona of a doctor in said enemy nation, to infiltrate the inner circles by getting his daughter in the same prestigious-but-exclusive school as his target’s son. Ana knows what is going on with both of them, but since she herself is hiding her psychic-ness, it is everybody having their own secrets in this family. It is filled with hilarious shenanigans, has excellent artwork and is my favorite manga series of the year!
How could at least one Schwab book not make my favorite books? I read up on the earlier Schwab books – The Near Witch & The Dark Vault series, as well as her new release this year – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. All were excellent reads, and these above made my top lists. The Archived & The Unbound are about a girl who is part of an afterlife organization that guards people’s dead; it is actually a library and every dead person is a book.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is about a 300 year old practically-immortal French girl who made a deal with a dark god to get her freedom but instead is cursed to be unable to leave a mark on the world in any way, shape of form, doomed to be forgotten by everyone she meets, until she meets the one who doesn’t forget her. There’s a delicious triangle of a romance here (I don’t say love, for REASONS).
The Locked Tomb by Tamsyn Muir
Another awesome series I have sunk my teeth into is The Locked Tomb trilogy which has lesbian space necromancers! Yep, its sci-fi and fantasy at the same time, with the necromancy very much rooted in anatomical knowledge so its scientific.
The first book has a hilarious protagonist in the form of Gideon Nav – a himbo jock of a lesbian who wants out of the Ninth House, but her only way out remaining is by accompanying the head of her house, Harrow Nanogesimus as the latter goes for her calling to Lyctorship. The first book is sort of a locked room mystery, but only an entire palace-like building being the locked room in question. People keep dying one by one, and they still have to undergo the Lyctorhood trials, that are supposed to confer greater power on the necromancer undergoing it.
The second book is in the aftermath of the first book, when Harrow has become what she wanted to be, at great cost. But the process hasn’t been complete, and she is split within herself, and paranoid about hidden enemies. We get to see the Emperor Undying and his Saints, and what were the purpose of their mission and what is going on in the galaxy at large. If you didn’t understand how the necromancy in the previous book worked, Harrow provides a generous lesson in this one. Also there are a lot of millennial jokes here to enjoy!
I started some excellent series this year and I look forward to their upcoming sequels! (Technically the Priory is a standalone at the moment but the author has expressed that she is working on further books)
These are not similar to the ones above, as American Demon is more a restart of a series (it was completed at book 13, but we get a new arc with this 14th book) while The Fever King was the start to a duology that ended this year.
Ending a series satisfactorily is an important thing, otherwise it will just ruin your image of the series as a whole, and these books did well to fulfill my expectations for the endings of their respective series!
I’ve read some webnovels this year, and while all of them were excellent, Golden Stage, was a perfect balm for all the angst endured in the other ones! So much fluff and its queer, too!
These contemporary fiction novels brought out the feels! Late to the Party is about a queer teen feeling left behind on teenage milestones. Early Departures is sort of speculative science fiction, but the tone is more about the characters and concept of grieving than the science involved, so I count it here.
Is it any surprise that my favorite novellas of the year are also queer with morally grey characters involved?
A Cathedral of Myth & Bone is a collection of urban fantasy short stories. Red, White & Royal Blue is a new-adult romance about the first son of the US and a prince from the British royal family. The Degenerates brings a perspective of girls institutionalized for being in some ways not the mold of a proper girl; it has disabled, physical or mental, characters, and other marginalized characters and realistic in tone to its era.
Both second books in their series, both bringing a lot to the table of my feelings.
Which books are your top books of 2020?