Dear Readers, 2020 is over! It was a horrible time for everything but reading. I broke new records for myself reading 103 books this year. Out of the 103 I have read 40 that were published this year. My big goal this year was to finish up a good deal of book series. I have a bad habit of not finishing, and I finished 6 this year. I will rate the top 10 books I have read that were published this year., the top 5 books I read not published this year, and the top three series I finished this year.
Top 10 of books published this year:
1. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is a groundbreaking new fantasy that is inspired by the history from Pre- Columbian Americas. I did not know a lot about this story going in and was amazed with the world building and unique characters. Black Sun is the first book in The Between Earth and Sky trilogy. The story is rapid paced, with so much conflict, it is hard telling who exactly is on what side of the good or bad coin, but the story was a fun read. The look at politics and religion is the best thing, do you believe in the prophecy? Do you believe so much in the prophecy you will do anything to stop it?
2. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs is one crazy book that you can’t predict or put down. I read this book back in May and it has stuck with me, the book is totally bonkers as characters flip from being good to bad, as the reader learns more secrets. This book has some of the most cringe worthy scenes, not because of gore or anything horrid, but because you are reading about a character that keeps digging themselves into holes. This is family dysfunction at its finest. What would it take for you to chain your mother in her room? The answers come quickly but the reasons behind them stay buried in lies.
3. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is a nonstop thriller that mixes elements of a ghost story with a mystery. This story earned it’s spot at number 3 for pure fun, the book was a blast to read. The pace was nonstop from the beginning, and did not let up as it reached the climax. The story is really fun, I enjoyed finding out more about the ghost and why they haunted the Sun Down Motel.
4. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a family drama about race, focusing on the light and darkness of skin color. I love a good book that will make me think long after I have read it , and this book does that.The book will really make you self reflect your own prejudice and bias based on skin color. Bennett doesn’t just analyze the white standard of skin bias but the black on as well. The book starts in the 1950’s and goes up to the early 1980’s. The story follows 3 generations of the Vinges family women.
5. Harleen by Stjepan Sejic was a fantastic Harley Quinn origin story. The approach was a romance novel gone wrong, and it works really well, so well the book earned a spot at number 5 of my favorite novels of the year. Harleen was runner-up in the Goodreads choice for graphic novels. Harleen managed to balance all four, drama, action, romance, and comedy very evenly. The character of Harley generally wants to do good and help people, the Joker manipulates her feelings, but did she really change the Joker and make him care for her?
6. His & Hers by Alice Feeney is a deeply psychological mystery thriller. This is a great mystery with layers upon layers. This who done it, will have you constantly changing who you think is the killer. His & Hers reminded me of the best parts of The Girl in the Train, the unreliable narrators. Both main characters lie with in the first passage already showing you the reader mistrust.
7. The Living Dead by George A Romero and Daniel Krause is a great zombie epic! It’s scary as hell, in its graphic descriptions that make you see, smell, hear, and even taste the gore. The first 200 pages don’t read while eating please take my advice. This novel is so much more than just a gorefest, it there is heartbreak, love and betrayal. The Living Dead is a morale tale, which ask what is living really?
8. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager is a top notch thriller wrapped in a ghost story. Home Before Dark reminded me of why I love Riley Sager so much, good writing that for the most part keeps me guessing while adding that level of believability, that it could happen that way.
9. Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir is a fantastic, clever, new take on a witch locking a princess in the tower story. The one thing that is clear is Tamsyn Muir is a clever writer and thinks out side of the box. Her writing so far is all about female empowerment with this novel taking it to another level, Princess Floralinda does not need a man to save her, she’ll do it herself.
10. The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a historical nautical mystery that takes an Agatha Christie plot and adds the devil. The plot has so many twist and turns that all make sense. The novel is a fun who done it, with so many suspects all with murder that will make you head spin. The standouts for me is the plot, however crazy it gets there’s always a plausible reason and character work is so good giving all 20 supporting characters their unique voices who all have their own motives and actions.
Top 5 books read this year not published in 2020:
1. The Shining by Stephen King is a truly horrific book. I was shocked how much story was not covered in the movie. Alcohol and ghosts do not mix! King gets into true fear, having someone you love, a father and husband, say, “I’m going to bash your brains”, then attempt to do it. The Shining is a ghost story but the scariest monster in the book is addictions and how it changes your rational choices, to choices that jeopardize your family.
2. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow is Scarface and the Godfather rolled into one. You live as the good guys the bad guys and the people in between that are casualties of the drug war. This looks at both sides like I have never read before, it shows the good guys having to cross lines they never thought they could cross and the bad guys crossing those lines to keep what they have.
3. Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman is the second book in the Arc of the Scythe series. Rarely do sequels ever make my best of list, butThunderhead ramps up the action, expands on the already great world building, it has one hell of a climax, and Dmaintains the high quality writing, that will make you think long after the book is finished. I love this series so much, it is going places I could not imagine.
4. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a clever mystery that blends the characters of the Breakfast Club with the secrets of Pretty Little Liars. The storytelling was really simple with an easy to follow mystery with so many twist and turns. I’m happy to say that I did not guess the killer, kudos to those who did. The story gets going right from the beginning 5 people go to detention, but only 4 make it out alive.
5. Full Throttle by Joe Hill is comprised of 13 short stories, two are written with his dad Stephen King. Some stories are bone-chilling tales of fright, while others give whimsical insight of the unknown. All tales draw you in in some way, some let you go easily, while other try to hold you in a death grip and not let go.
Top 3 best series finished this year:
The Power of the Dog trilogy by Don Winslow which follows the birth of the DEA and the Mexican cartel. The story starts in 1970’s and ends in our present. The story is Scarface meets The Godfather. The first two books were 5 stars and the last was 4 stars. The Power of the Dog trilogy is The Power of the Dog, The Cartel, and The Border.
Arc of the Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman an incredible young adult trilogy that looks at Earth’s future in a smart way. Arc of the Scythe takes the Grim Reaper character and humanizes it, by well making it human and showing the need of death. In a futuristic Earth human’s have beat aging. Thanks to Nano technology there is no disease and death can be reversed in most cases. Scythes bring a permanent death to curb over population. The Scythes are human’s who have been appointed, they have a kill quota must be unbiased in choosing it’s victims. The first two books are really strong earning 5 stars, with the last book falling to 3 stars. The Arc of the Scythe trilogy is Scythe, Thunderhead, and The Toll.
Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco Is a four novels and short stories Young Adult series that starts in 1888 England and ends in America in the early 1900’s. It follows Audrey Rose Wadworth and Thomas Cresswell who are learning to be forensic scientist while not courting each other. The series is romance meets serial killers. The setting is old but feels fresh using feminist ideas from today’s society questioning what is lady-like? This series doesn’t hold back on blood and descriptions of the horrid acts. I rated the majority of books in the series 4 stars. The Stalking Jack the Ripper series is Stalking Jack the Ripper, Hunting Prince Dracula, Escaping from Houdini, Becoming The Dark Prince, and Capturing the Devil.