What a damn year. Amidst all the chaos, it really wasn’t that bad. Personally, I think 2020 brought me perspective, and it has truly made me take a step back and realize what actually matters. Cliche, I know, but I have felt my internal focus shift in a way I haven’t felt before, and for the better (fingers crossed). While I didn’t have any major life events this year, I celebrated many “small” victories, and I think I needed the reminder that grandeur isn’t always more important than the little stuff. I took a gamble and started this blog, and while it is nowhere near perfect, it is something I am truly proud of. I’ve met some incredible bookish people, and I can’t wait to continue to connect with the reading community. Books have always had a major impact on my life, and I wanted to share some of my favorite reads from this last year with you guys. I don’t know about you, but I’ve read some of the best books of my life this year. While there’s plenty of wonderful tales I read, the special books/series below brought me life and adventure, and I cannot recommend them enough. Without further ado, let’s begin!
Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood
Sarah J. Maas
Crescent City follows Bryce Quinlan, ultimate party girl, as she works on the investigation of her best friend’s brutal murder. Bryce was a carefree girl, happy to live life with her best friend, Danika, until Danika was torn to pieces by a demon. When similar murders start popping up across Crescent City, Bryce is asked to help solve the mystery of Danika’s murder alongside Hunt Athalar, a Fallen Angel enslaved by the Archangels. As Bryce and Hunt uncover more clues and start to connect the dots, they discover a darker power at work towards destroying everything they hold dear.
Ok, I say Crescent City because it blew my mind, but truly any SJM book holds a special place in my heart. Love isn’t a strong enough word to describe what her magnificent books mean to me, and each and every one of them personally helped me get through this year. Her world building has inspired me beyond belief, and I’ve fallen in love with more characters than I can count. The details and intricacies of her stories almost make me emotional… I could go on for days (really though, ask any of my family members and they will bear witness to how I don’t shut up about SJM books). If you wanted to dive into Sarah’s stories, I’d recommend starting with the A Court of Thorns and Roses series first, then moving on to the Throne of Glass series, and then Crescent City. This is what I personally did, and it felt right to me… though each series is entirely unique and special to itself. The worlds… the relationships… the depth… the characters… ugh, I’m in love with Sarah and her beautiful stories. Read Sarah’s books if you are a big fan of fantasy, detailed characters, and heart racing action.
Serpent & Dove/Blood & Honey
Lou Le Blanc is a witch, living undercover in the city of Cesarine… where witches are hunted and killed by the Church. She’s lived in secret for the past two years, hiding from both the Church and her past. When fate twists her life with Reid, a chasseur sworn to the Church, she must work even harder to keep her magic a secret from him. Bound by marriage, both Lou and Reid have a lot to learn from each other… until something happens that shakes their world entirely.
This series is incredible. Lou and Reid have become two of my favorite characters of all time; I think authors need to write dual perspectives more often – we readers get such a well developed story when we can see both angles. Serpent and Dove drew me in because witchcraft, duh; plus, I just love Shelby Mahurin as an author. Not only is the magic of the story so unique, but it is FULL of tension on all accounts (looking at you, Lou and Reid). Shelby seized my heart several times in S&D, but then she truly wrenched it in B&H… but I LOVED it! In my opinion, that’s what made it such a good book to read. Stories NEED hardships, and sometimes the characters need sacrifice and torment. It all adds so much more depth to the overall story, and as you all know, I’m a big fan of depth. Read this series if you’re down for some intricate magic, enemies to lovers romance, and memorable characters.
Alex Stern finds herself on a full ride scholarship to Yale, though she never expected herself to be there. At a young age, she turned to drugs and drop-outs, living life barely scraping by until she is the only living witness to a brutal, multiple homicide in LA. That very day, from her hospital bed, she is offered a second chance at redemption: attend Yale, one of America’s most prestigious universities. The catch? Work for the mysterious Ninth House, which monitors the occult activities of the eight secret societies of Yale. As Alex becomes more entrenched in the dark and dangerous paranormal side of Yale, she finds out just how far the societies will go to get what they want.
This is by far my favorite book by Leigh Bardugo, hands down. Holy shit was this novel absolutely thrilling, and I loved every occult aspect of it. What I found the most intriguing was the descriptions of Yale’s secret societies, and how Leigh incorporated their sinister mysteries into this story. Having never been to Yale, I could easily picture myself on campus with Alex as she works toward uncovering a dark mystery surrounding the secret tombs. The fact that these societies exist is chilling, and I more than once had shivers running down my spine. The characters also feel real in an uncanny way, and this book had me THINKING long after I finished it. Definitely read this stunner if you have a fascination with the occult and you love thrilling reads that have you racing to the end.
We Hunt the Flame
We Hunt the Flame follows the story of Zafira and Nasir, the Hunter who has fed her village for years, and the Prince of Death who has become his father’s famed assassin, respectively. Both are famous in their own right for things neither wants to be known for, but fate brings them together on an epic quest to restore magic to their realm. They each must overcome their own personal battles as well as fight together against the evil that has taken over the land they love so dearly.
Yes yes yes yes yes. We Hunt the Flame is a beautiful, breathtaking story set in a richly detailed world reminiscent of Arabia. I was drawn to this book because 1) ummmm have you seen the cover? and 2) any sort of assassin story is like crack to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed Hafsah Faizal’s love of Assassin’s Creed shining through this beautiful novel. Not only was the conflict engaging, but both Zafira and Nasir had such incredible character development over the entire course of the story as well. I loved both of these characters so much, and their personal struggles were each a journey of self discovery, regardless of the evil they fought against. Read this novel if you’re also a fan of Assassin’s Creed, and if you adore stunning fantasy worlds with gripping characters.
So there you have it, my favorite tales I read in 2020. I’m also tickled that each one of these beautiful, beautiful books belong to their own respective series, and I hope we’ll be getting sequel/third installments to all of them later this year *screams/cries/weeps with joy*. As always, check out my individual blog posts for each one of these special books for a deeper dive into why I’m in love with them, and let’s chat. Did you love my favorites as much as I did? What books were at the top of your 2020 list? What do you think I should add to my TBR for 2021? Cheers to a fulfilling new year, friends! Ciao!