And That’s a Wrap 2020: Top 10 Favourite Reads

Here we are, both the last day of 2020 and my final wrap up post of the year! Today is the day that I get to gush about the amazing books I read this year *happy dance*.

According to my reading tracker, my most frequent ratings for books this year were 3 and 3.5 stars. I also did quite a few re-reads in 2020 (which I exclude from these types of lists). With these two things in mind, picking my top 10 this time around wasn’t as difficult as it has been previously. However, it also means that this list only includes a couple of books that I actually rated 5 stars. For those who saw my mid-year favourites post, you’ll notice some familiar faces here.

Like in 2019, I’ll be ordering this list from the bottom to my top read of the year. Now, let’s start the count down!

10. To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Becky Chambers

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This fantastic, little novella swept in at the last moment to score a position on this list. For something so short (only 135 pages, in fact), it crafts such a wonderfully immersive journey. The story follows a four astronaut research team sent to explore far off planets and study their local lifeforms. It’s a quiet, gradual story, more focused on scientific discoveries, the joy of exploration, and the bonds between the characters than action or high speed adventure. The writing can be quiet science heavy at points but it really does add to the believability of it all. I loved how diverse the cast was, both ethnicity and LGBTI wise, and how hopeful the story felt. However, I do wish that the mental health of the astronauts had been dealt with in more depth, especially during one troubling part of their mission. As a whole though, beautifully done.


9. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

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Classics usually aren’t my thing, even the modern ones. In the interest of trying new things I decided to give The Secret History a go hoping to find some murderous, dark academia magic. Shockingly, I really enjoyed it. I’m still kind of mystified as to how it happened really – slow pacing, unreliable narrator, characters who are all shitty people, general sense of pretentiousness, and YET it’s so good! The best way I can summarise it is: a group of university classics students who try a Bacchian rite end up killing someone and have to cover it up. Dark, immersive, mysterious, over the top, tension-filled…insert a multitude of other adjectives here. The only reasons I couldn’t rate it higher on this list are my complicated feelings about the ending and a slight lull in the middle. Still, I can definitely see myself re-reading it in a few years time to see what I missed.


8. Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall

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I confess, I picked this book up because it gave me serious Red, White and Royal Blue vibes. In the end, it was different but wonderfully enjoyable all the same. It’s about the son of a rock legend named Luc who, in an effort to clean up his public image, makes a deal with a barrister called Oliver to fake a relationship for the press. Although it was super sweet, Boyfriend Material was also so much funnier than I expected it to be. The banter and chemistry between Luc & Oliver was fantastic but the supporting cast was hilarious as well. While a plotline involving Luc’s dad didn’t really end in a satisfying way, I didn’t mind so much because of how much I loved the way the opposites attract relationship developed. Easily one of my favourite romances of the year.


7. Know My Name – Chanel Miller

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Many of you will be aware of the Stanford Rape Case in which swimmer Brock Turner was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster during a frat party. For years, this woman was known only to the world as Emily Doe but, in fact, her name is Chanel Miller. In this memoir, Chanel tells her story in her own words. It’s so difficult to rate and review memoirs, especially one as difficult to put to paper as this would have been. However, this is honestly one of the most beautifully written, raw and powerful things I’ve read. I was expecting this to be a hard book to read, what I wasn’t expecting was how fantastic a writer Chanel would be. Everyone should read this and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


6. Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

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I’ve been raving about this book all year (to the point where I think you guys are glad it’s almost 2021 just so I’ll finally stop). As if it wasn’t going to make an appearance on this list. Wolf by Wolf is an alt-history story set in a world where the Axis won WWII and now hold an annual, deadly motorcycle race across the world. Yael, a shapeshifter, survivor of Auschwitz and member of the resistance enters the race as part of a plan to assassinate Hitler. I’m not usually big on journey narratives but I love a good competition plot and this one was handled fantastically. The pacing is good, the MC is strong yet vulnerable and well developed, the story itself is engaging, the romance is subtle and there’s a great cliffhanger ending. If only the second book had been this good but hey, it was a high bar to overcome.


5. Becoming – Michelle Obama

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By the looks of my top 10, I should be reading more biographies/memoirs. Becoming is a fantastic autobiography and I’m so glad I decided to go with the audiobook. What could be better than Michelle herself telling you her story? I really enjoyed learning about Michelle’s life, all the way from her childhood on the second floor of her great-aunt’s house in Chicago to her time as FLOTUS in The White House. In retelling her journey, Michelle touches on so many important topics such as politics, parenting, relationships, the experiences of Black Americans, and the difficulties of the working class. This is the kind of book I believe anyone could take something away from. I know I certainly learnt a lot. Even if you’re not a Michelle Obama fan, it’s a thumbs up from me.


4. Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

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As I mentioned in my surprises and disappointments wrap up, I did not expect to love Conversations with Friends as much as I did. This little book came out of nowhere, stole my heart and I’m still shocked. The characters are largely unlikeable people and yet they’re complex and just feel so real and human. The book deals with love, intimacy, monogamy, loneliness, and youth, and I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards. It’s about a college student named Francis and her ex-girlfriend Bobby who are drawn into the world of a journalist named Melissa and her husband, Nick. Francis soon begins an affair with Nick which changes her outlook on life and herself. 


3. Starsight (Skyward 2#) – Brandon Sanderson

Another entry from my mid-year favourites list which managed to make its way onto my end of year list. As soon as I finished Starsight, I knew it would be sitting on this top ten somewhere. Skyward was my number one pick of 2019 so I was incredibly relieved that the sequel was so darn good. While it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and very different from the first book in terms of narrative, pacing and characters, it was still a really engaging and entertaining read. I loved the expanded world building and additional character development, and I am crazy excited for the next book in 2021.


2. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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This is another book that I haven’t shut up about this year so no one should be surprised to see A Little Life in the number 2 slot. With its very difficult content and 700+ page count, this definitely isn’t a book for everyone. But despite the fact that it completely wrecked me emotionally, I adored it (clearly I’m a masochist). The book follows a group of four university friends who move to NYC together and showcases the highs and lows of their lives over several decades. I loved the writing and have a special place in my heart for the characters. I don’t know if this is a book I can recommend exactly but I can say that I thought it was beautiful, memorable and worth all the tears.


Okay, time for the big one, my favourite book of everything I read in 2020…

1. The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang

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Yes, that’s right. While The Poppy War may have cracked the number three spot in my top reads of 2019, it’s The Dragon Republic which takes out the number one for 2020. When the first book in a series is amazing, I always get super nervous about the sequel but this one blew me away. I loved every minute of its 650-ish pages. The world is amazing, characters fantastic, battles engrossing, and the plot is the chef’s kiss, it’s so, so good. There’s so much action but Kuang manages to balance it out perfectly with emotional content and character development. I easily consider this series among my favourites now and I cannot wait to read the final entry. Perhaps it’ll take out the crown in 2021?


And that’s it for 2020! For those who’ve been following my blog for a while now, thank you for your continued support, it means the world to me. To those who discovered me this year, welcome! I hope my little blog has, at the very least, helped take your mind off what’s been a troubling year for many people. I’d like to wish you all and your families a very happy new year and plenty of five star reads for 2021.

My other wrap ups for 2020:

November TBR: Picking Books Based on 5 Star Read Predictions

We are now officially in November which means there are only two months left of 2020. Considering the way this year’s been going, that’s probably a good thing but it also means we’re getting closer and closer to my annual top ten reads of the year post. I’ve read some great books this year but you know what? I want to make choosing my ten favourite a real challenge. I want some pained groans, frustrated hair pulling, face on desk smashes. Let’s up the difficulty. So, with this in mind, in November I’m going to be tackling a list of books I’m hoping will be just amazing enough to earn, or get close to earning, a spot in the top 10.

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang

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The Poppy War was a five star read for me and hit number three on my favourite books of 2019. And yet, I still haven’t read the sequel. I’ve left it so long now that I had to re-read the first book last month to refresh my memory (it’s still amazing, by the way). Sequels are always a worry when the first entry in a series is so good, especially considering where book one in this series left off. However, considering it has an average GR rating of 4.34 and some wonderfully positive reviews, I am super confident in the fact that I’m going to love this book. Bring on the gods, monsters, war and heartache.


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V. E. Schwab

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SCHWABY! I’m so excited that this book is finally out, I’ve been looking forward to it for aggggeeeesss. My copy is still slowly making it’s way over to Australia (the pains of deciding you like the US hardback better than the easy to get UK edition) so I won’t be able to read this one first up, but as soon as it gets here everyone better leave me the hell alone. I’m pretty sure of a high rating for this one for three reasons: 1) it’s written by one of my favourite authors, 2) the ratings and reviews for it have been ridiculously good, and 3) the premise sounds right up my alley – a girl who makes a deal with the devil for immortality in exchange for being forgotten by everyone she meets. Pretty please be good!


The Toll (Arc of a Scythe 3#) – Neal Shusterman

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How have I still not read this book? Arc of a Scythe is one of my favourite YA series and somehow I’ve put off reading this for pretty much a year. It’s even worse when I think about the massive cliffhanger Thunderhead left me on. Now that I’ve re-read books one and two in October, I feel fully ready to tackle this book. The first two entries in the series were five and 4.5 star reads for me so I’d say the odds are good that The Toll will be up there as well. I’ve seen a couple of disappointed reviews but also some super happy ones, then again the same thing happens with every popular series. Please just make sure my sweet, little cinnamon roll, Grayson Tolliver, is okay.


Know My Name – Chanel Miller

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I’ve been wanting to read this memoir since late 2019 and considering how woeful the non-fiction section of my 2020 TBR is looking at this point, there’s no time like the present. For those who don’t know, Chanel Miller is the young woman who was sexually assaulted by swimmer Brock Turner at Stanford University. Her victim impact statement was widely read and praised. Here she details the events leading up to and years following the incident – the emotional hardship, impact on her day to day life, and the long, painful journey to trial & conviction. It’ll be a difficult read but a really important one.


Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf 2#) – Ryan Graudin

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There aren’t many standalones on this month’s TBR, are there? Well, here we are with another sequel, this time to Wolf by Wolf which was one of the books I included in my ‘Favourite Reads of the Year so Far’ list back in July. This is another read that I should have jumped on earlier than now purely on the basis of the dramatic, cliffhanger-ish ending of the book before. But here we are. I’m very interested to see where the story goes without the structure of the motorcycle race this time and to find out whether the resistance will actually kill Hitler. A few people were disappointed in this book while others liked it better than the first entry. Only one way to find out which I am.



I’m feeling good about this month! But I guess there’s always the chance that I’ll be completely wrong and end up a bitter mess full of crushing disappointment. Please bookish gods, do not let this happen to me. What books are on your November TBR? Are there any that you’re almost positive will be five star reads?

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my TBR I Predict will be 5 Star Reads

I’ve never done a post like this before. Why? It’s simple, I don’t give out many 5 star ratings. Check my Goodreads ‘read’ shelf and you’ll see that books with those five shiny things after them are in short supply. Remove all 7 Harry Potter books, and the list gets even shorter. The reason for this is that I don’t often read books that I absolutely crazy adore and have very few negative things to say about. I know I sound like a snob, and perhaps I have too higher standards, but unfortunately, it’s just the way I am. Because of this, posts like these have always seemed unrealistic for me. However, today we’re making an exception and attempting to be optimistic! Okay, not over the top optimistic which is why there are only 8 books on this list instead of 10. As far as final ratings are concerned, I’ll still consider it a win if any of these books manage to get a 4.5 star rating.

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang

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The Poppy War was one of my favourite reads of 2019. I even gave it one of my rarely awarded 5 star ratings. With sequels is always hard to know whether they’ll live up to the original and before TDR was released, I was very nervous. After the ending of book 1, I wasn’t sure where the story could go but I now have a good feeling about this one! The average Goodreads rating is high, reviewers I trust have said super positive things and the blurb sounds great. So I’m pegging this for another 5 star read and I think the odds are high.


A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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I’ve only just started this book but I’m willing to make a bet that A Little Life will crack the big five stars. Now, this is in no way a short read – it’s over 700 pages long, and I’m fully aware of the fact that the story is supposed to be emotionally grueling (majorly so). Yet, I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it – the writing, the realistic and wonderfully crafted characters, the fact that it doesn’t leave you until long after you’ve finished it. I’m looking for something that’ll worm its way into me and stay there. I really hope this is it.


Educated – Tara Westover

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As I’ve mentioned a few times over the last couple of months, non-fiction reads have started to grow on me and Educated is a book I’ve had on my TBR for a few months now. I actually started it a little while back and got distracted but I’m determined to go back. A story about a young woman from a survivalist family, who with little education at all, managed to teach herself enough to be admitted to university and eventually earned a doctrate sounds like the kind of story I need in my life. I’ve seen some rave reviews of this book so I’m hoping it lands 5 stars with me also.


The Toll (Arc of a Scythe 3#) – Neal Shusterman

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This is another book where I’m basing a five star prediction on the fact that I rated previous books in the series highly. Scythe was a 5 star read and Thunderhead a 4.5 star read so the chance of another high rating seems likely here. I really love this series so it would be heartbreaking for it to stumble at the final hurdle. Book two ended in a major cliffhanger and I’m super excited to find out what happens next (well, after I re-read books one and two to refresh my bad memory). I’ve seen some amazing reviews and some disappointed reviews. I’m desperately crossing my fingers hoping I’ll be in the former camp.


The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

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Another enormous book and another one I’ve started and will have to return to at some point. While the few pages that I’ve already read of Priory weren’t exactly grabbing me in a choke-hold of engagement, with a book this big I’m willing to put the time in to reach a point where I’m sure things will pick up in a major way. I still have a good feeling about this one being an amazing read. I’m trusting the hype train to be right here. It has everything I need – dragons, a badass female ruler and warrior, magic, a good verses evil battle. Don’t let me down Samantha Shannon!


The Wise man’s Fear – Patrick Rothfuss

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Time for another sequel. In 2019 I finally, FINALLY read The Name of the Wind and to my immense relief, I thought it was fantastic. It ended up being a 5 star read and got a place on my top 10 list of the year. Now, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll enjoy the sequel. I’m guessing another 5 star rating is likely but the problem is, the third book is still nowhere in sight and it’s already been YEARS. Who knows if it’s ever coming??? As a result, I think I’ll be putting TWMF on hold for a while even though I know it’ll be good. Don’t worry Kvothe, I’ll come back for you eventually.


Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Now, Mexican Gothic hasn’t even been released yet so with this one I’m going entirely off a great blurb, good feeling in my gut and gorgeous cover. It’s a little scary though because these days I’m such a Goodreads rating snob. I’m really hoping that this book is what the movie Crimson Peak could have been if it had actually lived up to its potential and not gone…well, off the rails. A haunted house, creepy family, debutante heroine, suspense, mystery, and all in 1950s Mexico. I’m super excited. Please be gooooooooodddd.


Empire of the Vampire – Jay Kristoff

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Jay’s Nevernight series is one of my favourites and I’m hoping that lightning strikes again with EotV. Teenage Ashley was majorly obsessed with vampires and I’ll admit, I still have a guilty pleasure love of them so I’m super keen on the idea of a darker, more adult fantasy approach. If anyone can pull it off, Jay can. As with Nevernight, this seems like another historical based world which is also really exciting. Basically bring on the violence, blood, romance, witty dialogue and emotional trauma. And GIVE ME A 5 STAR READ, PLEASE.


What do you think of my 5-star predictions? Way off base or likely to hit the mark. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes.

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

I’ll be honest, at the moment I’m kind of experiencing a bit of book burn out, or a slump, or whatever you want to call it. In order to help with it, I’ve limited this list just to books that I’m crazy excited about. As in, wish-I-had-them-in-my-hands-right-now-because-the-waiting-is-killing-me kind of excited. While I do have some other books that I’m definitely interested in reading that have yet to come out in 2019 (e.g. Spin the Dawn or Wilder Girls), they don’t quite meet my hype criteria so I’ve left them off. As a result, this list is only a top 6 Tuesday.

Darkdawn (Nevernight 3#) – Jay Kristoff | Sep 3

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Surprise, surprise. I know. It’s not like I don’t talk about this series all the time. Originally this book was slated for a much earlier release but because Jay is a masochist is writing a ridiculous number of things at the moment, he needed some extra time to perfect this one. As the finale to one of my favourite series, I’m so excited for this book. I need to know how Mia’s big revenge story ends. I’m assuming it won’t be happy or blood free.


The Toll (Arc of a Scythe 3#) – Neal Shusterman | Nov 5

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Nearly every entry on this list is a sequel. As with Darkdawn, The Toll also happens to be another conclusion to a series and it’s similarly one I’m dying to get stuck into. Book two in the Arc of a Scythe series ended in a major cliffhanger. We’re talking ridiculously cruel here. By the time this book comes out, fans will have been waiting only a couple of months less than two years to find out what happens next. To say that I’m keen to find out what happens to Citra, Rowan and Grayson is an understatement.


The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang | Aug 6

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The Poppy War has been one of my unexpected loves of this year and I think it’s pretty much guaranteed that it’ll make my top ten list of the year (even though we’re only halfway through 2019). It’s intense and extremely dark at points but it’s also amazingly done. After the events of the climax of book one, I honestly have no idea where things are going to go in the sequel but boyyyyyyy…..am I ready for it. Or maybe I’m not, if it throws me for a loop just as much as the first one did. Guess I’ll just have to see.


The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air 3#) – Holly Black | Nov 19

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So, I basically absorbed The Wicked King when it was released earlier this year (or I might as well have with how quickly I finished it). Originally The Queen of Nothing was set to release in 2020 but Christmas came early and the release date was unexpectedly moved up to Nov 2o19. I flipping love this series. I can’t even explain why – its just so dark and twisty and magical and addictive. After the dramatic end to book two, I can barely contain my excitement for book three. Give me more Jude & Cardan already!


Starsight (Skyward 2#) – Brandon Sanderson | Nov 26

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Skyward is another book almost guaranteed to make my top ten books of 2019. It’s the novel that showed me just how damn amazing Brandon Sanderson is as a writer because I cannot even express how much I enjoyed it. I’m kind of glad I waited a little bit to read it – less time to wait for Starsight! There were a few truth bombs dropped at the end of Skyward so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out in the sequel. I’m also really looking forward to seeing how the characters continue to develop and getting more of that great humour.


Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo | Oct 1

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Ninth House is only non-sequel entry on this list but unsurprisingly it’s from an author I already know and love. This book is a slight change of pace from Leigh’s previous books. For one thing, it’s set in the real world rather than a fantasy one. The story focuses on secret societies, the occult and a bit of mystery. The cover makes it seem like it’ll be a little bit darker and more sinister than some of the other YA books out there which I’m definitely here for. Fingers crossed it’s good!

And that rounds out my six. There are more books that I’m excited for but unfortunately I can’t expect them to show up until 2020 rolls around which is still AGGGGGGEEEEEESSS away. Hopefully I’m come across some more books over the next few months that are amazing enough to burn that obsession fire in me like these ones have. Until then, this is where my burnt out bookworm butt is sitting on the anticipated releases front.

Which books still to come in 2019 are you most excited for?

** Top 10 Tuesday is currently hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl**