Top 10 Books of 2020

10. The Empire of Gold

by S.A. Chakraborty

…brings this expansive trilogy to a rousing conclusion…Chakraborty’s writing continues to impress and it flows beautifully once again in this book. …this trilogy is such an impressive achievement. FULL REVIEW


9. Riot Baby

by Tochi Onyebuchi

…visceral, staggering, and powerful…a satisfying read that packs quite a bit of fire into its limited page count. FULL REVIEW


8. Nophek Gloss

by Essa Hansen

Exciting, Inventive, and packed with imaginative ideas – Hansen’s debut space opera is the coolest novel I’ve read in some time. It’s hard science fiction at its finest. FULL REVIEW


7. The Obsidian Tower

by Melissa Caruso

…I had a really fun time with this book. Each page crackles with magic. Caruso’s writing flows well and moves the narrative forward at a swift pace with a steady stream of action and court intrigue throughout.  FULL REVIEW


6. Call of the Bone Ships

by RJ Barker

Barker absolutely stuck the landing with this second book of the Tide Child trilogy...Every moment spent voyaging through Barker’s Scattered Archipelago is incredibly satisfying. I highly recommend this series. FULL REVIEW


5. Piranesi

by Susanna Clarke

It was a real delight to be lost in the labyrinthian walls of Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi…this is a cracking good read that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a brief escape to a more hopeful world. FULL REVIEW


4. Greenwood

by Michael Christie

Add this title to the growing trend of excellent books about trees that have sprouted up in recent years….Christie’s prose is beautifully composed and his descriptions of nature are stunning. I’d recommend this to any lover of nature or fan of epic family sagas.  FULL REVIEW


3. The House in the Cerulean Sea

by TJ Klune

TJ Klune has written something truly wonderful here – a positively delightful book that warms the heart and soul. Each page brims with life and joy and it gives me hope for a better world. I’m not sure what else you can ask for from a book. FULL REVIEW


2. The Vanished Birds

by Simon Jimenez

This is an exceptional debut novel. Simon Jimenez is clearly a skilled storyteller and is an exciting new voice in science fiction. His prose is beautiful and in The Vanished Birds he seamlessly weaves multiple threads into a tightly-plotted tour de force…[It’s] a profound and deeply human story told on an epic scale across millennia. I loved it. FULL REVIEW


1. Black Sun

by Rebecca Roanhorse

This is pitch perfect epic fantasy. Everything works so well together — propulsive pacing, exceptional characters, excellent world-building, and a fascinating mix of cultures, politics, religion, and lore…one of the best books of 2020. FULL REVIEW


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Review: Nophek Gloss

Title: Nophek Gloss (2020)
Author: Essa Hansen
Pages: 480
Series: The Graven #1 (Series Tracker)


Caiden is on a quest for vengeance after his family’s subjugation and slaughter. His anger and hatred are unrelenting. His desire to quench his thirst for vengeance fuels the main quest of this novel. Caiden’s journey to enact revenge is brutal but not without a beating heart. Whether blood-related or found-family, his love for his family drives everything.

Exciting, Inventive, and packed with imaginative ideas – Hansen’s debut space opera is the coolest novel I’ve read in some time. It’s hard science fiction at its finest.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My thanks to Orbit for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: A Dead Djinn in Cairo

a-dead-djinn-in-cairoTitle: A Dead Djinn in Cairo (2016)
Author: 
P. Djèlí Clark
Pages: 
45
Series: Fatma el-Sha’arawi #1 (Series Tracker)


P. Djèlí Clark’s short story tells a tale of an alternate Cairo filled with steampunk flourishes, supernatural oddities, and a deadly plot that could destroy the world. Clark packs a complete story into this vivid setting and it works splendidly. A considerable amount of time is spent on exposition, but it’s all fascinating and I imagine it makes this story a great primer for both his 2019 novella and his 2021 novel, which are set in the same world. I’ll surely be checking those out after this excellent start.

★★★★ out of 5

Review: The Dragonbone Chair

The Dragonbone ChaiirTitle: The Dragonbone Chair (1988)
Author: 
Tad Williams
Pages: 
672
Series: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn #1, Osten Ard Saga #1 (Series Tracker)


What an enjoyable read. This story feels special and timeless. Williams’s worldbuilding is deep and impressive. Although he raises considerably more questions than he answers, I’m fully invested in seeing this through to the end.

This series has been on my TBR pile for the longest while and if all goes well, I hope to work my way through the remaining Osten Ard books in anticipation of the new book being released in 2021.

★★★★¼ out of 5

Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Invisible LifeTitle: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (2020)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Pages: 448


Addie LaRue makes a deal with the devil to be free, but at the price of being forgotten. We follow her over the next 300 years dealing with the repercussions of her Faustian bargain. 

While initially engrossing, I never quite fell in love with this book. In fact, my feelings matched how I felt after reading A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab’s most popular novel – well-written, intriguing premise, but it could never quite win me over. I felt every one of LaRue’s 300 years and I was exhausted by the end, which I suppose was the point, but in the end, the ultimate destination did not make the journey worthwhile. Schwab may not be the right author for me, but judging by the exuberant reaction to this book by critics and readers alike, it seems I’m in the minority here.

★★★ out of 5

Review: Call of the Bone Ships

The-Call-of-The-Bone-ShipsTitle: Call of the Bone Ships (November 24, 2020)
Author: R.J. Barker
Pages: 512
Series: The Tide Child #2 (Series Tracker)


Despite its massive storms, brutal battles, and monstrous fauna, R.J. Barker keeps the characters at the forefront of his world. The ever-evolving relationships between Joron, Lucky Meas, and the Tide Child crew are really wonderful. Specific attention was paid to flesh out the backstories of several background crew members, which allows them to carry the narrative when Joron or Lucky Meas are sidelined. That said, Gullaime the windtalker remains the standout character of the series and it was exciting to see it again and learn more about its species.

Barker absolutely stuck the landing with this second book of the Tide Child trilogy. The Bone Ships was my favorite book of 2019 and this sequel will surely vie for a top spot in 2020. Every moment spent voyaging through Barker’s Scattered Archipelago is incredibly satisfying. I highly recommend this series.

★★★★¼ out of 5

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Piranesi

PiranesiTitle: Piranesi (2020)
Author: Susanna Clarke
Pages: 272


It was a real delight to be lost in the labyrinthian walls of Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi. Clarke’s dizzying descriptions of endless hallways, vestibules, and staircases was disorienting but also mesmerizing.

Piranesi, our kindhearted and peculiar main character, is a wonderful window into this world. There are many mysteries that surround him and the maze he finds himself in. Clarke answers more of these riddles than felt necessary, but ultimately, this is a cracking good read that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a brief escape to a more hopeful world.

★★★★¼ out of 5

Review: The Empire of Gold

EmpireOfGoldTitle: The Empire of Gold (2020)
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Pages: 736
Series: 
The Daevabad Trilogy #3 (Series Tracker)


It took me longer than I’d care to admit to make my way through this hefty tome, but I come away satisfied and content with the way everything is brought to a close. The Empire of Gold brings this expansive trilogy to a rousing conclusion. 

The journeys of our three main characters are given plenty of time to breath, while being really well-balanced against each other. Chakraborty’s writing continues to impress and it flows beautifully once again in this book. I’m excited to see what Chakraborty writes next, as this trilogy is such an impressive achievement, especially as a debut.

★★★¾ out of 5

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Black Sun

Black SunTitle: Black Sun (October 13, 2020)
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Pages: 464
Series: Between Earth and Sky #1 (Series Tracker)


This is pitch perfect epic fantasy. Everything works so well together — propulsive pacing, exceptional characters, excellent world-building, and a fascinating mix of cultures, politics, religion, and lore.

The story builds and builds as each chapter moves us closer to the ill-omened “Convergence” (a solar eclipse). I could not stop turning the pages until the explosive finale, which does not disappoint. It also leaves a tremendous amount open-ended, which makes me excited for the future of this series, as it feels like Roanhorse has barely scratched the surface of where to go with these characters and this world. Altogether, this is one of the best books of 2020.

★★★★½ out of 5

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.