Best Books of 2020

Dec 23, 2020 | Reading

2020 has been a crazy year filled with ups and downs, but amidst all of it I read some amazing books in 2020 that I want to share with you today. A lot of these books were released in 2020, but there are some backlist books on this list that I didn’t get around to reading till this year. So out of the books I’ve read this year, here are my favorite books of 2020!

Side note, in my rating system I use a small black star to indicate half a star rating. So some of the books mentioned, I have rated as 4.5 stars.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (Cursebreakers #2)

YA Fantasy/Fairy tale Retelling ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✮

This is the sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely, which came out last year in 2019 and became a favorite of mine in 2019. Since this is a sequel, I won’t get into the details or synopsis of this second book in case you haven’t read the first book yet (which you totally should).

This series is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and has great disability representation in it. Our main character, Harper, has Cerebral Palsy, but she doesn’t let that stop her from being a badass and standing up for what’s right. I love Harper’s character and I love her relationship with Prince Rhen (our beast).

In this sequel, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, the story focuses on one of the side characters we meet in the first book, Grey, and a few new characters introduced in this sequel, including a princess named Lia Mara.

Some fans of the first book have been disappointed with this sequel because we are not following Harper and Rhen’s story, however, I found Grey’s story to be compelling on its own and I’m glad we got to see it.

While I agree I would have liked to see Harper and Rhen more, I love the new characters we’re introduced to. Lia Mara is definitely a character that not everyone will take a liking to, but I found her interesting and I enjoyed her storyline.

As for the relationships in this book, the only downside for me was that I felt the main relationship in here progressed more quickly than I wanted it to. In the first book, the relationship between Harper and Rhen was a very slow burn and I kind of wanted that in this book as well, but it progressed quicker than I thought it would.

Without getting into any spoilers for this book, I will say I enjoyed the twist at the end and cannot wait for the third book to come out.

Twisted Fates by Danielle Rollins (Dark Stars #2)

YA Sci-Fi Time Travel series ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Twisted Fates is the second book in the Dark Stars series. The first book is Stolen Time. Since it’s a sequel, I’ll share with you the summary of the first book instead, so I don’t spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

This is a time travel story about a girl named Dorothy who lives in Seattle in 1913 and is trying to escape her arranged marriage. Ash is from New Seattle in the year 2077. Ash is a time traveler and has been traveling back in time to find his mentor, the Professor, who has disappeared.

When Ash crash lands in Seattle in 1913, his paths cross with Dorothy’s. Dorothy thinks Ash is just a pilot of a plane and she sees this as her opportunity to escape, so she stows away on Ash’s ship. Of course, things get a lot more complicated once Ash returns to the year 2077 with a hidden Dorothy on his ship.

The ending of the first book leaves you on a huge cliffhanger, so I was super excited to see where this sequel would go.

The only downside about this book to me was that the first half seemed a bit slow. At first, I was wondering if this book would suffer “middle book syndrome” and be more of a filler than anything, but definitely not. Once you get to the second half, things definitely pick up.

There’s a lot of information we’re given, which is great, but it also seems like for every question we get answered we get a lot more questions in return.

There is another huge twist with this ending, and just like the first book, it leaves you on a huge cliffhanger. One that leaves you going, “what the hell?” This is why I sometimes hate reading books as they come out. I want to binge this whole series now and find out how it ends! The Dark Stars series is definitely one of my new favorite series.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

YA Mystery/Thriller ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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I picked up this book for two reasons. One, it’s by Karen McManus and I read her other YA mystery/thriller last year (One of Us is Lying) and I absolutely loved it. It became a favorite of mine last year, and I knew I wanted to read more of her books.

The second reason I wanted to pick this one up was because of the title on the cover. It reminded me so much of Pretty Little Liars, which I loved watching, until the end kind of ruined things, but I won’t go there.

This is about a girl named Ellery who has to move to a small town called Echo Ridge to live with her grandmother. This town has a history of missing girls. Ellery’s aunt went missing in this town when she was seventeen.

Five years ago, a homecoming queen went missing and was later found dead. Now “someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago.” Another girl now goes missing, and Ellery becomes involved with trying to solve the mystery in this town and find out what happened to all those missing girls.

I loved this book. If you love mystery and suspense/thrillers, give this a try. Karen McManus is great at keeping you guessing every step of the way. The twists and turns are so good and man that ending packs a punch. To see more of my thoughts, check out my full review below.

The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine

Non-Fiction, Self-help/Personal Development ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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I usually don’t have any non-fiction books on my favorites list. Not because I don’t like non-fiction or I don’t read them because I do. However, not many of them make such a huge impression on me that I feel the need to include them on the list.

The Renaissance Soul is definitely an exception. I have never related to a non-fiction book more than this one. This book talks about people who have multiple passions and interest (Renaissance Souls) and how difficult it can be when we try to limit ourselves to just one thing.

It teaches different ways that Renaissance Souls can engage in their multiple passions without feeling like they have to give something up. It gives you tips and practical advice for how Renaissance Souls can manage their time and thrive on their many interests.

If you have multiple passions and interests and are constantly bouncing around, not sure which one to focus on, then I highly recommend this book. Or if you’re in school and stuck trying to figure out what you should major in cause you can go in multiple different directions, then I recommend this book. If you find yourself wanting to switch careers every few years and do something new, again I highly recommend this book.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (Book #1)

YA Fantasy ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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This is a dual perspective book and one of the POVs is a princess named Karina whose mom was just assassinated and so she has to take over and rule her kingdom. However, she doesn’t feel ready for the task, so she plans to use ancient magic to resurrect her mom.

Only thing is, the magic she plans on using requires the heart of a king. Karina comes up with a plan that whoever wins the Solstasia competition (a competition her country does every year), will win her hand in marriage. The victor will become king, and therefore she can get the heart of a king.

Malik, our other main character, is traveling with his sisters to Ziran (the princess’ country). On the way there, his younger sister gets kidnapped by a vengeful spirit. To save his sister, Malik struck a deal with the spirit. He’ll get his sister back if he kills the princess of Ziran, Karina.

Malik enters the Solstasia competition to get closer to the princess, and basically they’re both on a collision course to kill each other.

I loved the characters in here. The world and the magic were interesting. It had such a rich history, and I cannot wait for the next book in this series. I need it now. 😭

Once you get to the second half of this book, you won’t want to put it down and you’ll read it all in one sitting. There’s so many twists & turns & awesome reveals and WTF moments! 😂

This was the first book we read in Holly’s new Diversity is Lit bookclub. If you want to hear more of my thoughts or what others in the group thought, check out the discussion video below.

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (The Last Hours #1)

YA Fantasy ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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This is the first book in a new Shadowhunters series, a spin-off of The Infernal Devices. I’m going to share the Goodreads synopsis of this book since these books are a little difficult for me to explain.

“Chain of Gold, a Shadowhunters novel, is the first novel in a brand-new trilogy where evil hides in plain sight and love cuts deeper than any blade.

Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride.

Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assassinations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.

But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill.

London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.”

I love the Shadowhunter world and was so excited to be back in it. Cassandra Clare’s writing just gets better and better, and I loved this book. Like all the other Shadowhunter books, I love that this is full of action and adventure. I love seeing the character dynamics and interactions between all the characters, and I love the romantic subplot.

The only reason I gave this a 4.5 instead of 5 stars is because there were a couple of times when the characters were being (in my opinion) overly melodramatic. I know it’s Shadowhunters, so it’s going to have angst and some melodrama, but a couple times I actually stopped and said to myself, “ok, this is a bit much.”

Overall, I still loved the book, and I loved seeing Will, Tessa, and Jem again (my favs), and Magnus! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Adult Mystery/Thriller/Gothic Horror ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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I won’t say too much about this book because I think it’s best going into it kind of blind, but I will say it involves an old Victorian estate that may or may not be haunted. If you’re a fan of gothic horror or books with haunted houses, then this is definitely one for you to check out.

I’ve been thinking about this book long after I finished it, and I’ve been wanting to reread it again. There aren’t many books I want to reread right away after finishing them, but this is definitely one of them.

This book has two timelines and dual POVs. One that takes place in the past from our main character’s father’s perspective, and one in present day from our main character, Maggie’s perspective.

This book keeps you turning the pages and does a great job at making you think what’s really going on in this house? Is it something supernatural or is there a logical explanation for everything happening? I love the twists and turns in this book and all of the reveals at the end.

Riley Sager has now become one of my favorite authors. I’ve read all his books and love them, and I will definitely read anything he puts out in the future. Home Before Dark is probably my second favorite book of his, though the more I think about it, the more it may creep up to first place, past Final Girls.

Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa

YA Paranormal/Dystopian ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️★

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Blood of Eden Book 1

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Blood of Eden Book 2

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Blood of Eden Book 3

This is an older series, all of the books are already out, but I hadn’t read it until this year. I can’t believe I waited so long to read this series. I loved it.

If you love YA vampire books, then this series is a must. It’s set in a dystopian world where most of human civilization has been killed off from a disease and the disease has turned a lot of vampires into what is called “rabids.” Rabids are like the zombie version of vampires.

In the first book, The Immortal Rules, our main character, Allie, is a human living on the outskirts of the city and just trying to survive. Allie has a deep hatred for all vampires, until one night when she dies and becomes one of them herself (not a spoiler, this is all in the synopsis).

Forced to leave the city, Allie must try to pass as a human when she joins a group of humans who are searching for Eden, a place free of vampires that might have the cure to save humanity.

I was recommended this series by my critique partner one day cause I was trying to figure out what type of mythology I wanted to use for the vampires in my own story. I thought the vampire mythology in this series was interesting and one that I don’t think I’ve seen much before, so it was definitely helpful.

This series is a fun, fast-paced, action packed series. The writing style is very easy to get into and the characters are great. I loved Jackal cause he reminded me so much of season 1 Damon from The Vampire Diaries. I definitely think Jackal and Damon would be best friends if they were in the same world.

This series is pretty predictable. You can see a lot of the twists coming, but overall it was a fun ride.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (Book 1)

YA Contemporary Fantasy ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

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This is another story that’s kind of complicated for me to explain, so I’m going to include the Goodreads synopsis below.

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic, and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other.

But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

I loved this book so much. It totally gave me Shadowhunter vibes, especially all the action/fight scenes. There’s a lot of action and fight scenes in this book, and I love it!

I love learning more about the King Author tale and the knights. Some of the twists at the end were predictable, but I still loved them! I love Bree and Alice’s friendship! We definitely need more friendships like theirs in YA!

I like some of the representation in here. First time I think I’ve read a book with a bisexual male character (and one that’s not a minor character in the story). It’ll be interesting seeing how this love triangle plays out. Bree and Nick? Bree and Sel? Sel and Nick? Right now, I’m not rooting for any particular couple. Bree and Nick are ok, but their relationship seemed a bit rushed to me. I guess we’ll see how I feel when book 2 comes out.

The one downside was that the magic and the family lines got confusing at times and I’m still not sure I fully understand it, but overall, I can’t wait for the next book!

So those are my favorite books of 2020. Let me know in the comments below what books you’ve read in 2020 and which ones became your favorite.

Until next time,

Happy reading & writing!