It’s the last of my posts looking back over my reading in 2020! Today’s post is the end of year book survey, which is an annual survey created by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner to look back at your reading year. I first saw this survey on Laura’s blog @ The Book Corps, so do check out their post as well!
Best in Books
1. Best Book You Read In 2020?
My favourite book of the year is Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia! This book just blew me away. I read it as an eARC before it released, then of course immediately pre-ordered the hard copy and have since also gifted it to 3 or 4 different people. It is absolutely incredible. The atmosphere is so terrifying and chilling and everything is beautifully fucked up. It’s the kind of book you shouldn’t really read at night because it will give you the weirdest dreams (and also you really shouldn’t eat mushrooms whilst reading it…..just no).
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, I longed for more YA scifi just like this! Unfortunately, it was just far, far, far too cringey for me. I almost couldn’t get through because I was literally cringing on every page at all this awkward singing to each other at the silliest moments. And I think because I was so, so excited for this book, it made the disappointment even greater. I was also exceedingly disappointed in Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran, it was my only DNF of the year. It was described as a political fantasy with a sapphic relationships between a Queen and her spymaster (literally everything I’ve dreamed of in a book?!) but it just didn’t make a lot of sense, the characters were very inconsistently written and I had to give up about 40% through.
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett surprised me in such a good way! It was a book I randomly picked up from the library without knowing anything about it, and it was such an amazing read! It was so visceral and so raw and so sensual, it created such a powerful reading experience. And this completely random library pick became one of my favourite books of the year!
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Alongside Mexican Gothic, I also recommended The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey a lot this year. This was such a wonderful debut and I feel it didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved as a sapphic, gothic historical fiction novel. Also that cover?! Is gorgeous?! Please pick up this beautiful book!
5. Best series you started in 2020? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender of 2020?
I read both Jade City and Jade War this year, the first and second novels in Fonda Lee’s epic gangster fantasy series. Both are absolutely incredible, but Jade War stood out to me in particular. I am so excited for the the trilogy finale, Jade Legacy, which is releasing later this year! I need to find out what happens to the Kaul family!!
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2020?
Silvia Moreno-Garcia wrote TWO of my favourite books of the year, horror Mexican Gothic and fantasy Gods of Jade and Shadow. Both were such different books, but had me absolutely enraptured. And I can definitely say that she is now one of my auto-buy authors. Which is excellent given she has THREE books releasing in 2021!
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
2020 was a year I started exploring nonfiction and memories, and it’s a goal for 2021 to further expand this area of my reading! I really adored the memoir How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones. You can really tell that Saeed Jones has a background as a poet, because the prose was so beautiful and powerful and intense.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
This book. THIS BOOK. H-O-L-Y-F-U-C-K. The Ikessar Falcon by K.S Villoso is the second book in the Chonicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy. Both The Ikessar Falcon and the first book in the series, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, could fit this question, but I went for the second one because it is truly a rollercoaster of terrible events. I was blown away just 20% in when something shocking happens and then shit KEPT GETTING WORSE. I love K.S Villoso because I really never know if the characters that I love will win, or even if they’ll still be alive at the end… So this book definitely fulfiles all three qualities for this question: action-packed, thrilling and unputdownable!
9. Book You Read In 2020 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I actually have quite a few books I read in 2020 that I’m planning to reread this year, including the gorgeous The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. But The Unspoken Name by A. K Larkwood was the book that jumped to mind immediately, not least, because the sequel is coming later this year and I will definitely need to reread this book before it arrives. This was one of my favourite books of 2020 and I can’t wait to re-immerse myself in this world!
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020?
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender has one of the most gorgeous covers ever created (and it is an incredible book as well). I love everything about this cover, the colours are so bright and happy, the flowers spark so much joy, and I adore the top surgery scars ON A YA COVER?!? This is amazing! It feels like such a step forward for trans rep with this cover and I just love love love love looking at it.
11. Most memorable character of 2020?
Yes, I have chosen the epic Cara from The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson for most memorable character of the year! This book was incredible, but Cara is definitely one of the best written characters I read about all year. A mere 9% in and one of the biggest twists of the year happened, and I was just in shock?! I loved the way the multiverse background to this book gave such a fantastic opportunity to show what parts of Cara differed and what stayed the same depending on how she grew up in that particular universe. It made for such an interesting read, and one I’m not going to forget any time soon!
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2020?
Erin Morgenstern has some of the most beautiful writing, in both her debut The Night Circus and her second novel, The Starless Sea. She creates the kinds of worlds you just never want to leave, that feel like a dream as you are reading. I am in awe of how beautiful her writing is, every single word is so perfectly chosen to create the most lush and delicate prose.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2020?
N.K Jemisin is always an author who embeds science fiction and fantasy with social commentary, and so always creates incredibly thought-provoking books. The City We Became, the first book in a new series, is no different. Different to her previous trilogies, The City We Became is set in our world, in New York, but in a world where cities can become alive once they reach a certain size and culture. It explores the way racism is upheld in society through the work of The Enemy, who uses those susceptible to bigotry to try and kill the city of New York. It is incredibly well done and is a book I want all white people to read.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read?
The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a book I’ve been meaning to read for soooooooooooo long. Like years long. But I finally bought a copy last year and eventually read it in the last month of the year! It was definitely a very interesting read. It probably didn’t quite live up to the hype in my mind after waiting to read it for so long, but I still very much enjoyed reading it!
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2020?
“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is one of my all-time favourite books, and it was one of my only rereads of 2020! This quote is one of the most beautiful quotes in the world, and I shall love it always.
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2020?
The longest book I read this year was the chonkiest baby The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon at 848 pages. The shortest was the wonderful fairytale novella Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh at 112 pages!
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is a book literally full of plot twists that left me hanging on the edge of my seat. I like to think I’m generally fairly good at spotting plot twists, but I saw NONE OF THESE COMING. Holy shit. The shock I was in at the end of Part 1 is possibly the most shocked I have ever been at a book.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
How could I choose anyone other Kiem and Jainan from Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell?! This book is an absolute delight, it was my last read of 2020 and it was absolutely incredible. This was such a fun book, it was full of tropey goodness and Kiem and Jainan were utterly perfect.
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke has one of the best portrayals of female friendship I’ve ever read! It takes the high school mean girls trope and completely twists it on its head with this coven of witches who will do anything for each other and who welcome Sideways Pike, outcast lesbian witch, with open arms in contrast to everything you expect from a group of mean girls.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2020 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
T.J Klune is fast becoming a favourite author of mine. I read some of the novels in the Green Creek series last year and then a couple more of his this year, including adult fantasy The House in the Cerulean Sea. This book is just such a beautifully joyful story with some of the most perfect characters, including several hilarious children who have the most soul and heart in the entire world.
20. Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.
Anna-Marie McLemore is an author who keeps getting recommended on pretty much every single bookish platform there is. So I finally decided to pick up one of their books in 2020, their newest one, Dark and Deepest Red! I was definitely enthralled by McLemore’s writing but a little underwhelmed after all the praise to be honest…. I definitely think I need to try out some of their earlier novels instead.
21. Best 2020 debut you read?
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson is one of the most outstanding debuts I’ve ever read. The skill in the worldbuilding, the social commentary, the depiction of trauma, the sapphic yearning, the plot twists, everything about this scifi novel was absolutely outstanding and it’s fast gone to being one of my favourite books that I am absolutely longing to reread!
22. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
There were several books I considered for this question, I read so much fantasy that there are so many choices for best worldbuilding! But I decided on The Black Tides of Heaven by Neon Yang which is the first of a four-part novella series. I was particularly impressed with the worldbuilding in this book beacuse it is a novella, and the world and setting that Neon Yang managed to create in such a small book felt as detailed and expansive as books four times its size!
23. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
This was another book I read late in the year in December, and oh my god, it was the most fun!! It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian is a book all about changing the direction of your life for pleasure. It gave me so much to think about how I currently live my life and why I don’t put my own happiness at the centre of my actions and it was just such a romp. Also the beautiful depiction of bisexuality is absolutely fabulous!
24. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2020?
I really don’t often cry at books – at all. But I do get teary-eyed and no one can make me teary-eyed as religiously as T.J Klune! I love that his books are the perfect example for writing that has you laughing on one page and crying the next. They are so full of heart, he has such an emotional way of writing every single word that you can’t help but cry.
25. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans was an absolute delight and I need more YA readers to know about this book! It is the perfect book for all the plant gays out there. It is such a magical, hopeful little read full of magic about dryads and nature and fairies, and has a nonbinary lead, a f/nb relationship, a trans boy. It is just such a lovely and gentle book about friendship and love.
26. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Look, if you’ve read The Dragon Republic by R.F Kuang, I have no need to explain why this book is the one that crushed my soul into smithereens. And if you haven’t read it, all I have to say is WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ IT please go read it now.
27. Most Unique Book You Read In 2020?
In my review of A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, I have the sentence “It is one of the most unique science fiction novels I’ve ever read.” So obviously, I had to pick this one for this question! The book is part murder mystery, part political thriller, part a love letter to poetry and on top of all that, a science fiction novel. And it is utterly marvellous!
28. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
I’m so sad this one made me mad! Because unfortunately, The Empire of Gold by S.A Chakraborty is not here because it made me mad with joy. I’m just so mad because one half of this book was some of the most incredible, heart-renching, soul-destroying fantasy I’ve ever read (the sections in Dara’s POV). But Nahri and Ali’s journey was some of the worst. It made no sense compared to the previous two books and created this really bad juxtaposition of Dara going through some of the worst things of life, whilst they did nothing but moon over each other despite Nahri never showing feelings for her friend, yes friend, before…. Fairly shocking ending to be quite honest.
1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2020?
It’s so difficult to choose just a few wonderful new accounts I discovered in 2020, everyone has such wonderful content. But I adored exploring Hsinju from Hsinju’s Lit Log’s blog and bookstagram and watching them read Cantoras THREE TIMES even though they knew it would break their heart! They read so widely across so many different genres and put so much effort into supporting LGBTQIA+ indie publishers – go check out their post with all the sapphic indie books publishing this year!
2. Favorite post you wrote in 2020?
I hate looking back at things I’ve written lol….But I think my favourites posts were the series on SFF fiction after the mass harassment allegations in the community were revealed during the middle of last year. I looked at the adult fantasy, YA fantasy, horror, adult science fiction and YA science fiction you could be reading instead of books by old, white racists!
3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2020?
I really love this photo of a stack of trans, nonbinary and gender diverse books I took! I love the colouring of the books with the colouring of the candles, and it shows off one of my favourite plants! (Which has since now…..kind of died….Here’s hoping I can bring it back from the brink of death).
4. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2020?
In December, I managed to hit over 1000 hits in one month on my blog for the first time! I never thought anyone would want to hear me talk about books so to know so many people came to my blog?! And read the nonsense I wrote?! I LOVE YOU ALL THANK YOU.
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
The most challenging thing about blogging this year was probably my 30 Days of Pride series. I posted every single day in June to celebrate Pride month, and holy fuck, it was so much work. Since I moved jobs earlier last year, I’ve also had less time to work on my blog and reading, as I now often have manuscripts to read for the day job on top of doing all my own reading and blog work.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My most popular posts of last year were the YA fantasy books to read instead of books by old, white racists, and my most anticipated books of 2021! The latter definitely contributed to the increase of views I saw in December which helepd me reach the 1000 total views milestone that month.
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I really wish my creation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show book tag had gotten more attention! I had so much fun writing it, I love that film so much and I love doing book tags so I wish others had done it too. Maybe next Halloween?!
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2020 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2021?
A Little Life has been a book I’ve been meaning to read foreeeever, and 2021 is going to be the year, I promise! It is top of the list of my ‘must read books of 2021’. I’m hoping to start it near the end of January, or in February. Although February is F/F Feb, so maybe March….? And before I know it, it will be 2022…
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2021 (non-debut)?
Like I was going to pick just one!! These are some of the books I am hugely excited for in 2021!
- A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
- We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen
- Under the Whispering Door by T.J Klune
- The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
- The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
3. 2021 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
And here are another five, debuts this time which I am absolutely so excited for (especially since I have an ARC for several of them!!)
- She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
- On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu
- The Unbroken by C.L. Clark
- The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon
- Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2021?
In 2021, we have Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee, The Thousand Eyes by A.K Larkwood and The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S Villoso! These are all the finales/sequels to three of my favourite fantasy series so I am incredibly excited.
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2021?
This year, I’m hoping to actually work on my physical TBR! Last year, I had several months that were so focused on library books and ARCs, that my physical TBR got a little out of control. So this year I need to actually finish the books I own!
6. A 2021 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable)
Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell is absolutely glorious – it is the direction I want to see more of in SFF. Brilliant tropey fun, a wonderful romance, and the kind of characters that make you want to give them a hug and never let go! It was such a funny read and I had an absolute blast reading it.
And that’s the last of my posts looking back over my 2020 reading year! I’m hoping to have a more relaxed reading year in 2021, I don’t want to put the same kind of pressure on numbers that I did last year as I think it made me struggle to actually enjoy the books I was reading, in the race to try and read as many books as possible. I hope everyone has a good first month of the year!