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Favourites Of 2020…So Far

Best of 2020 So far

It’s time for the quarterly favourites of 2020! Normally, this is where people say “I can’t believe it is already April”, but this year I think we can all agree it’s more “IT”S ONLY APRIL?! WTF!” We are living in a perpetual version of the Upside Down and it is getting hard to imagine the “other side” … but, thankfully, I have been able to escape into some fantastic books.

My tastes as a reader are definitely changing this year – whether influenced by the world events, or just a natural progression – I am finding myself more drawn to adult fantasy, literary fiction, and stories that centre around themes of history, magic, and heart wrenching characters who struggle. Characters who are morally grey, fail repeatedly, and are painfully, humanly selfish. “Chosen one” or “unlikely hero” tropes … bah! I’m just sick of. Show me characters that lose rather than win and how they climb back up.

And apparently I like a slow build! Now, as I’ve discussed with my husband, slow build does not equal stall out. The story still needs to progress in a forward direction and not just sit stagnantly while an author dumps information and description upon the reader. I think this is why YA fantasy has been letting me down – stop rushing your story. Take your time. Let me visualize the world, let me understand these characters. Show me, don’t tell me. I’m finding more and more YA to be a nice, neat, standardized 320 pages with an arresting cover and completely similar plot arcs. Maybe I’m reading the wrong YA, but for whatever reason there is not a single YA in my top 5 Quarterly favourites … no YA even made it close …

Without further ado … 5 Favourite Reads So Far of 2020 (not in any order)


Uprooted book coverWritten by Naomi Novik

Published by Del Rey Books

Evil, eery, vengeful and sentient forests combine with strong, stubborn, greedy, selfish, but ultimately compassionate and brave characters, reside in this classic fairytale style retelling that teases with wisps of Beauty and the Beast. This isn’t your Disney fairytale, nor is it your paint by numbers retelling, this is dark and twisting and you’re going to have to work for it. While not long in page count Naomi Novik has a densely plotted writing style that forces your constant attention. I thought this to be a drawback when reading it, but the pay off is very rewarding.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock book coverWritten by Imogen Hermes Gowar

Published by HarperCollins

This completely original historical fiction magical realism is definitely not for everyone. Gowar is very controlling of her pacing that she unlaces slowly, methodically, and intentionally. She paints a vivid canvas of late 18th Century England holding nothing back when exposing the gritty, seedy underbelly of common life. A descriptive, original, haunting story that combines mythology, mermaids, magic, touches of romance and unapologetically flawed characters. Central themes of greed, waning beauty, substance over style, freedom, and independence are woven throughout.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The City of Brass/Kingdom of Copper

The City of Brass book coverWritten by S.A. Chakraborty

Published by Harper Voyager

(I read the first and second book in this trilogy back to back and have roped them into one entry on this list because I honestly cannot tell which I liked better). This captivating Middle Eastern fantasy series takes us deep into the mythical, bloody world of Daevabad, where magical gods and half bloods are locked in a centuries old war of alternating ruler and persecution. While there is a bit of chosen one/unlikely hero trope happening with Nahri, it was seamlessly sold because she is so wonderfully real, headstrong, and passionate. I never get tired of a good “strong woman coming into her power to lay the world out” storyline and this Daevabad trilogy definitely delivers this along with glittering description, complete world building, atmospheric setting, and genuinely interesting characters. It is dark, it is bloody, it is a slow build, it has dense, descriptive writing and it is a beast of pages … but it is so so worth it.

Full reviews HERE and HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org (City of Brass) Bookshop.org (Kingdom of Copper)

Three Things About Elsie

Three Things About Elsie book coverWritten by Joanna Cannon

Published by Scribner Book Company

My heart always gravitates toward the elderly characters in novels, so when I read the synopsis for this heartfelt story centring around a cast of characters in a nursing home I knew it needed to be read. We never hear enough from this overlooked voice in fiction and for a world that is so obsessed with staying young, fearful of aging, and determined to associate youth with beauty, power, and intelligence we NEED to listen to these voices to guide us, warn us, and really … calm us the heck down. But aside from that little spiel of mine, Joanna Cannon delivers us some truly fabulous characters that I absolutely fell in love with. This literary fiction is told in first person narration from the perspective of Florence and just begs to be listened to as an audiobook. With compassion, genuine insight and perspective on the human condition … and little bit of thriller/mystery thrown in … it’s just an excellent read that made me mad, made me think, made me cry, and left me with a smile. This will remain on my favourite list this year.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of January book coverWritten by Alix E. Harrow

Published by Redhook

I’m a sucker for stories about stories within stories for the lovers of stories … so I kept getting drawn back to this novel, even after hearing some criticism about its slow pacing. But, as I’ve self discovered, I like slower reads… plus how can I resist that gorgeous cover? I loved this as an audiobook that read like a journal entry from the perspective of our main character Janaury. While it is easy to assume this is a fantasy about discovering and travelling through doors into hidden magical worlds (which of course is in here), it is really January’s story of personal discovery, growth, her fight for autonomy, and to discover who she is and where she came from. Sexism, racism, and classism at the turn of the 20th century play central themes in this historical fiction/fantasy that ultimately is a slow building self narrative of discovery and forgiveness.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

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