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This train wreck of a year is finally ending and it’s time to post my top ten books of 2020! I revived my book blog in June so I haven’t written reviews for all of these. I’m leaving out books that I re-read and these obviously weren’t all published this year; I simply read them in 2020. Here we go!
I’m very stingy with my five-star ratings but these made the cut, in no particular order:
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden–This series, beginning with The Bear and the Nightingale and ending with this book, has been phenomenal from beginning to end. I’m not familiar with Russian folktales or history at all but Ms. Arden beautifully wove them together in this trilogy. (Affiliate links)
Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston–The Once Upon a Con series is adorable but also has a lot of heart. Poston’s take on Beauty and the Beast (my favorite fairy tale since the animated movie came out in 1991) was almost guaranteed to get 5 stars from me.
Goldie Vance by Hope Larson, illustrated by Brittney Williams–I was never a fan of mysteries as a kid but Goldie Vance would have changed my mind. She practically leaps off the page! The diverse characters and fun retro artwork only add to the appeal.
Melissa (Formerly published as George) by Alex Gino–Poor planning on my part left me scrambling for short books to read and review for Banned Books Week. I stumbled onto George and the rest is history. George is a girl but she was born in a boy’s body. Her struggles within herself and as she slowly reveals her secret to loved ones swelled my heart to bursting.
Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright–An old classmate who’s a librarian recommended this to me and I’m so glad she did. I wouldn’t have believed that a book about plagues would make it into my top ten books during a pandemic but here we are. The book was somehow funny yet informative. It also gave me hope since, for every plague humanity has faced, someone has risen to the task of fighting it and we’re still here.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune–I’ll post my GoodReads review in its entirety here: “I think my heart just grew three sizes. I loved the characters, I loved their life lessons, and most importantly, I loved that they were seen. I love books with characters who build the families they choose, and what a delightful family this band of outcasts created.”
Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy, read by Val Toomey, George Newbern, Marin Ireland, and Joel Froomkin–I love a good twist but I’m usually disappointed by twisty books that others love. Not so here. Goodnight Beautiful didn’t just twist, it corkscrewed! It also turns the “crazy girl” mystery trope on its ear.
Devolution by Max Brooks, read by a full cast–My husband and I were living in Portland, Oregon for six months with his job when I listened to this book, and being so close to the setting may have bumped my rating up a little. But the phenomenal narrators and the almost-believable Sasquatch horror made this one of my top reads for the year.
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys–This author brings history to life for me in a way that few others can match. She’s outdone herself in this book about an American teen spending a summer in Spain in the 1950s and the girl he meets there. The glamor of the expatriate lifestyle contrasts harshly with life under the dictator Franco and the unthinkable cruelties he inflicted on political dissidents.
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, read by Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler–Ms. Ryan explores the transformative power of music in this historical book written for young adults. Following three young people and an amazing harmonica through WWII, this is another book that warmed my heart.
That’s my list! Have you read any of these? Did they make your list? Which books did/would you choose? Link up every Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl!