Hello everyone !!!! It’s finally that time of the year when we love taking stock of what we have loved and hated throughout the year, and so I am here to talk about all the wonderful books and series that helped me get through the year from hell that has been 2020. But I am feeling too out of sorts to choose which ones I love more than others, so I am just going to list out all of them in the order in which I read them. Let’s get started and I hope you enjoy reading this post !!!!
Girl Gone Viral was my first romance novel of the year and it was so soft and sweet and lovely, that I thought it was a great sign for the months ahead. Though that didn’t work out, I still can’t forget how emotional and happy this book made me, and proved once again why I love Alisha’s writing so much.
When I got approved for the ARC of The Electric Heir, I decided to binge read the duology and it completely blew me away. It deals with very difficult but important topics, but ultimately it’s an ode to survivors and I’m constantly awed at the strength that the characters in this series possess.
Surrender Your Sons wasn’t even on my TBR but when I saw it up for request on Netgalley, I found the premise very compelling. And when I got approved for the ARC, I read the book on the same day in a single sitting because I just couldn’t put it down. The themes it deals with may be grim and painful, but it’s also a thrilling story of found family and friendship, one which is very memorable and left an impression on me for months after.
I have never been much of a sci-fi reader, but one of my goals of 2020 was to explore the genre more. And I started my foray into it through the Murderbot diaries, and I couldn’t have chosen a better series. This story of a socially anxious, lover of binge watching Murderbot was the perfect antidote for this year, and it just brought so many smiles and joy to my life.
A young adult version of Dr. Kendi’s acclaimed work Stamped from the Beginning, Stamped is a compelling book about the history of racism, told in a very accessible manner. But it’s the narration of Jason Reynolds in the audiobook that made it one of my favorites of the year, because he brings a certain emotional depth and gravitas to the proceedings and makes it unforgettable.
I discovered P. Djeli Clark’s writing this year through his short fiction A Dead Djinn in Cairo and the Hugo/Nebula nominated The Haunting of Tram Car 015. Both these stories are absolutely stunning with exquisite worldbuilding and memorable characters, and I can’t wait to read more of his books set in this world.
N. K. Jemisin is a master author, and The City We Became is no exception. The way she deals with issues like racism, white supremacy and gentrification while literally bringing the city of New York is a masterstroke in writing, and I was left utterly gobsmacked by this story.
Just like the two gorgeous looking covers, the writing in the Singing Hills series is beautiful and exquisite, and very much makes me wanna read them again and again.
I picked up this collection, Exhalation because a couple of the stories were nominated for the Hugo and Nebula, but I did end up reading all of them because I was very impressed. Ted Chiang really has a great grasp on philosophical themes as well as very futuristic ideas, and his stories are quite thought provoking.
The Tensorate series is a perfect example of the magic that happens on page when we have evocative writing, lush worldbuilding, memorable characters and a story that is expansive and heartwrenching. I loved my experience of reading these novellas and I hope the author writes more in this series.
I kept putting off reading the An Ember in the Ashes series till now because I was just scared of all the pain it would inflict on me. But I finally gave up the pretense and binged the first three books in four days and they were all amazing. Having recently finished the finale too, I have to agree with all the other older fans that this series is one of the best in YA fantasy and it has some of the best character arcs ever.
This was another duology that I put off reading till this year despite following and loving the author on twitter for a long while. However, the wait was worth it because Tasha’s writing is so beautiful and emotional and the love stories in these books literally made me cry with how amazing they were.
I was expecting to enjoy Hunted by the Sky but I didn’t think I would fall in love with it so much. The pacing is super fast and I couldn’t put it down, the characters are very well rounded and setting and it’s mythology is very compelling. And all the desi elements were just like icing on the cake.
Raybearer literally swept me away. It’s my favorite YA fantasy of the year and nothing comes close to it. The world building and it’s West African inspired folklore, the found family dynamics, the beautiful romance, a complicated mother/daughter relationship – this book has it all. It’s just perfect in my opinion which is made even spectacular by the amazing narration in the audiobook.
I guess it’s not a surprise that atleast one Mahabharata related book made it to my favorites of the year list. Krishna doesn’t really tell a conventional story – it’s more contemplative about the necessity of war and Lord Krishna’s divine purpose in his form. But the beauty of the book lies in it’s artwork which is just breathtaking, and I can’t wait to buy a physical copy of this for my collection.
Ring Shout is probably the only horror novel I have ever read after a couple of Goosebumps ones in my childhood. But after discovering Clark’s writing this year, I couldn’t give it a miss. And it was brilliant. A perfect combination of thrilling action, superb characters, excellent commentary on white supremacy and racism, and lots of eldritch horror – the author managed to pack so much in a short novella and it just leaves you spellbound with how it punches you in the gut with some very relevant realities of the world.
Another top favorite fantasy of the year, The Bone Shard Daughter has a very fascinating coding type magic system and an excellent set of ensemble characters. I was hooked on the audiobook right from the get go and was very excited to see where the story was going. And ofcourse I would be remiss in not mentioning the cute Mephi who is the highlight of the book.
I never thought I would read a children’s book or that it would make my favorites of the year list, but Ritu weds Chandni is special. Featuring a desi lesbian wedding, it shows the beauty of our traditions despite a non-traditional ceremony and an innocent child who is just excited to be part of the proceedings, while not understanding what the whole negative fuss is about. The story sheds light on the fact that children are born open-minded and it’s their upbringing that has the possibility of making them bigoted, and how easy it is instead to teach the children about all kinds of families and let them be open and accepting.
A great ending to a wonderful duology, The Ever Cruel Kingdom is an enjoyable story of sisterhood and sacrifice, but what makes it special is the contemporarily relevant commentary on the ravages of climate change and how those responsible for the worsening conditions are always ready to deny their part in it and shift the burden onto other innocent citizens.
Well, there’s not much I wanna say about the explosive finale of the Poppy War trilogy, The Burning God. It was emotionally devastating and the perfect way to the end the series, even if it broke my heart. You can checkout my review if you wanna know what more I thought about it.
And here comes the Numero Uno…!!!!!
Mo Dao Zhu Shi (or) The Untamed (or) The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation – whether it was the translation of the web novel, the live action on Netflix or the donghua on YouTube, this story has kept me sane this year and I have rightfully become obsessed with it completely. Even months after reading/watching it for the first time, I still look everyday on AO3 for new fics set in this fandom because even when it makes me sob uncontrollably, it gives me joy. Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji have all my heart, and so do Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo… 🙂
Here ends the list of my favorites of the year…!!! Did you enjoy any of these books as well? Did any of them make your favorites list ? What else kept you going during the pandemic? Share all your thoughts and links in the comments below…