ZeZee’s Favorite Reads of 2020

Happy New Year, everyone! 😀 I’m excited for 2021. I’m trying not to jinx the year by placing too many hopes on it to be way better than 2020, but I can’t help myself.

I know the new year started last week but my mind doesn’t want to accept that. For me, the new year starts today, January 4, on a Monday. So expect many posts this week reflecting on my reading and blogging in 2020.

This is my favorite time of year as a book blogger, end of December into the beginning of January, because this is when EVERYONE — bloggers, newspapers and other media outlets, and even friends and family — share what the best books they read in the previous year are. I get so many recommendations from such lists. And, although not everyone does it, I also get recommendations from lists of disappointing reads experienced in the previous year. I mean, just because someone hated a book doesn’t mean I will. So if a book on such a list appeals to me, I’ll add it to my TBR.

Anyway, I’m here with my list of favorite reads in 2020. They are categorized but listed in the order I read them. If I posted a review, I will link to it.

Novels & Short Collections

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe ★★★★☆

This is a little collection of three of Poe’s short stories, but the one that falls on my favorites list for 2020 is the titular one, which is about a young man who kills a blind old man and is driven by the sound of the old man’s heart to confess his crime. Oh man! It’s such a thrilling read. I love how it’s narrated. I sped through it and couldn’t believe I waited this long to try Poe’s work. (I gave the collection 4 stars because I didn’t like the other two stories as much, but I gave the Tell-Tale Heart 5 stars.)

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen ★★★★★

This is the second novel in the Waverley Family duology (so far) about the women of the Waverley family who live in a small, eccentric town in North Carolina. These books are romance with a hint of light fantasy (I guess). In this book, a circus magician visits the town when the Waverleys are all jittery about the blossoming of their prophetic apple tree and further throws them into chaos. It is a sweet read that’s perfect for the fall. I do hope Allen will write more books in this series.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison ★★★★★

I read this novel thanks to the Wyrd & Wonder reading event and am glad I did. It’s a standalone fantasy novel about a young half-goblin who suddenly becomes emperor of his father’s kingdom. His father had basically outcasted him so, unprepared, Maia had to quickly learn how to rule the Elflands. I loved it. It’s a strongly character-driven story that was such a compelling read that I barely wanted to part from it for long. I’d love to reread it in 2021. I’m sure I missed much on my first read through.

Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb ★★★★★

It’s the first novel in Hobb’s Soldier Son trilogy, which is about a young man who believes he is destined to serve as a soldier but gets caught up in some… spiritual intrigues that alters his path and destiny. This trilogy started out promising because I really like this book. This was a strong beginning with what seems like the setup to explore some really interesting themes later on, like colonialism and classism. I was so invested in this story, but the other books took a totally unexpected turn that made me feel as if I was reading a different story. Still, I really dig this book. The characters were interesting and so too the plot developments and world building.

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett ★★★★★

This is the twelfth novel in the Discworld series, the third in the Witches subseries, which I’m currently reading through. It’s a fantasy novel about the Ramtop witches — Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick — travelling abroad to stop a girl from marrying a prince. There are a lot of fairytale influences in it that helped make it a fun read as they were often presented in unusual ways. Witches Abroad was a fun, humorous read that was very entertaining and just what I needed at the time I picked it up. I plan to read the next book soon.


Comic books

Nimona by Noelle Stephenson (illus.) ★★★★☆

Oh, this was such a delightful read! It’s a YA fantasy comic book about a girl who’s a shapeshifter. She joins a supervillain as his assistant to learn how to be a villain. It was a fun, humorous, heartwarming read that I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. I wish there was another book after this one for the story to continue. The art style isn’t one I typically like, but it works for the story.

Sex Criminals, Vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction, illus. by Chip Zdarsky with colors by Becka Kinzie and Christopher Sebela ★★★★☆ ½

The first volume of a fantasy comic book series about a couple who can stop time when they have sex. This is here because it’s an entertaining, humorous story that I had a lot of fun reading. It was so unexpected because I couldn’t see how the story would work out or how it would keep my interest. Although I’m not a fan of the art style, I look forward to reading the next volume.

The Boys, Vol. 1: The Name of the Game by Garth Ennis, illus. by Darick Robertson with colors by Tony Aviña ★★★★★

The first volume in a sci-fi comic book series about superheroes behaving badly and the people who’ve decided to police them. The story sparked my interest because I kept hearing about it from those who watched the show on Amazon, but also because I wondered how a story about a superhero with a skewed moral compass would turn out. However, what hooked me was how gruesome and dark this comic book went because I wasn’t expecting that. I just really liked how unapologetically gritty it is. I wasn’t a fan of the art style, but I liked how detailed it is.


Picture Books

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak ★★★★★

This is a children’s picture that has no pictures in it, which, I guess, may seem like it would be boring to kids but is actually a fun read. I didn’t read it to anyone because there aren’t any kids in my house and the adults probably wouldn’t tolerate me doing that and I don’t think we had the cat then so I could read to him. So I read it to myself. I love how silly the book is and its simple aesthetic, which attracted me and made me purchase and read it.

Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall (illus.) ★★★★★

A historical children’s picture book about a lighthouse keeper living in a lighthouse. It was an informative read for me because I knew nothing about lighthouses or their keepers prior to reading this. The text is accompanied by Blackall’s beautiful illustrations that are very appealing and eye-catching. I love the colors and textures used, especially for the sea and the waves in it.

Ocean Meets Sky by the Fan Brothers (illus.) — Terry & Eric Fan ★★★★★

I love this book so much. It’s one of the most gorgeous books I own. Ocean Meets Sky is a very heartwarming story about a boy using his imagination to say bye to his late grandfather, who often told him stories about the place where the ocean meets the sky. I had a similar passing in my family in 2020, so this story was especially poignant to me because I didn’t get the chance to say bye or attend the funeral due to being in a different country while the corona pandemic raged on. I love the story and the illustrations, which are amazing and beautiful and so detailed. The Fan brothers did a great job on this picture book.


Bonus

I reread several books by audio in 2020. Many of them were favorite reads from previous years, but the audio versions I listened to in 2020 were so good that they made my favorites list again this year. I didn’t mention them above since they are rereads and I wanted to focus on new-to-me books, but here are the audio rereads that were also favorites:

  1. Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb, narr. by Paul Boehmer
  2. Tawney Man trilogy by Robin Hobb, narr. by James Langton
  3. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, narr. by Lloyd James
  4. The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey, narr. by Steven Boyer

THAT’S IT FOR MY FAVORITE READS.
LET ME KNOW IF YOU’VE READ ANY OF THESE AND WHAT YOUR FAVORITE BOOK OF 2020 IS. 🙂

35 thoughts on “ZeZee’s Favorite Reads of 2020

  1. Oh I totally get recs from disappointment lists. Sometimes you find someone that has the exact opposite taste as you and it really works out. 😉
    So glad to see The Goblin Emperor on here! My love for that book knows no bounds lol.

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  2. Excellent selection! I think The Goblin Emperor is the highest on my list of priorities of all these. And also Poe’s stuff. I just need to wrap my mind around the idea of reading a huge book collecting his work and tackling so many different ideas/stories first hahaha 😀

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    1. Lol thanks! I’d love to see your thoughts on Goblin Emperor. Hope you have a good time with it too.
      I had a huge book of Poe’s work but it was so thick n intimidating that I unhauled it, lol. It was too much at once.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nimona was epic fun! The Book With No Pictures was a surprisingly great read, which is kind of the book’s point 😊

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  4. Great list. I am with you on being hopeful that 2021 will be better. It has to be. Have a wonderful year and I hope that you will discover many more lovely books to add to your list of favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great list! I loved the Farseer Trilogy on audio as well! I hope to listen to the Tawny Man this year!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

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  6. I love this time of the year too, its fun to look back and see what your favorites were, and also to look ahead. I’m glad you reminded me I need to read Nimona and The Goblin Emperor😁

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  7. The Goblin Emperor sounds really intriguing! And I loved Witches Abroad sooo much, it’s one of my favorite Discworld books! (The Little Red Riding Hood part always gives me too many feelings). Do you have any predictions for what your 2021 favorite reads will be?

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    1. Goblin Emperor is a really good read. Highly recommend it.
      And oh man! Witches Abroad was so much fun. No predictions yet. I haven’t yet thought of my reading plans, lol! Will sort that out this week.

      Liked by 1 person

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