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TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2020

TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2020


2020 has been such a strange, stressful and complicated year.  I took a one-year sabbatical leave from work from mid-2019 and managed to do quite a bit of travelling for about six months before the world got completely turned upside down.  I’ve read/listen over 120 books this year, 73 of which was completed during the first half when I wasn’t working and the entire world was on lockdown.  Getting back to work during the second half in the midst of a global pandemic and a new challenging role did affect my ability to read and also write reviews on a regular basis.

Despite 2020 being such a watershed/dumpster year, it’s been an incredible one for my reading as I’ve completed a lot books ranging from great to masterpieces.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve added so many books onto my favourites shelf (many of which were from the same series).  If you’re curious/interested, you also can see my year in books for 2020 right here.

Similar to my previous list, I do not limit this to only books released this year.  There are simply too many great books that have been published prior and that I’ve yet to read, so there will always be older books included.  Below are the parameters that I’ve set for the list.

  • Rereads don’t count
  • One book per author
  • Not limited to books which are released this year.

None of these are ranked except for the top five.  The rest, I’ve listed them in the chronological order of when I’ve read them this year.  Almost all of these have been reviewed by me on Novel Notions and Goodreads, albeit some are quite brief.

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TS’s Top 11 Books Read in 2020 So Far (1st Jan to 30th June)

TS’s Top 11 Books Read in 2020 So Far (1st Jan to 30th June)


2020 has so far been a truly strange, stressful and complicated year, but reading wise it has been pretty incredible for me.  I’ve read/listen to 73 books during this first six months of the year and quite a sizeable chunk of these garnered 4-stars and above.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve added so many books onto my favourites shelf in the same period of time.  If you’re interested, you can see my year in books for 2020 right here.

Similar to my previous list, I do not limit this to only books released this year.  There are simply too many great books that have been published prior and that I’ve yet to read, so there will always be older books included.  Below are the parameters that I’ve set for the list.

  • Rereads don’t count
  • One book per author
  • Not limited to books which are released this year.

None of these are ranked except for the top three, of which two are tied for first place.  The rest, I’ve listed them in the chronological order of when I’ve read them this year.  All of these have been reviewed by me on Novel Notions and Goodreads.

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Book Review: Night Shift Dragons (DFZ, #3) by Rachel Aaron

Book Review: Night Shift Dragons (DFZ, #3) by Rachel Aaron

Night Shift Dragons by Rachel Aaron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: DFZ (Book 3 of 3)

Genre: Urban fantasy

Published: 5th May 2020 (Aaron/Bach, self-published)


Night Shift Dragons delivered a spectacular and hugely emotionally satisfying conclusion to Rachel Aaron’s follow-up urban fantasy series set in the insanely cool, quirky and vibrant free city of the DFZ. 

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TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2019

TS’s Top 20 Books Read in 2019

The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 20 List.


Hello everyone!  This is the first time I’m listing my top reads for the year 2019.  Initially, I wanted to opt for Top 10 but having read 100 books and rated a lot between 4.5 and 5 stars, I felt that I would struggle to limit it to ten.  The parameters for my list are as follows:

  • Rereads don’t count
  • One book per author
  • Not limited to books which are released this year.  Those not published in 2019 will be specified.

With exception of #1, none of these are ranked.  I’ve merely listed them in the chronological order of when I’ve read them this year.  I’ve also included my favourite classic read of the year as we’ve started the Novel Notions Classic Club in July. All of these have been reviewed by me on Novel Notions and Goodreads.

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Book Review: The Once King (FFO, #3)

Book Review: The Once King (FFO, #3)

ARC provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review

The Once King by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series:  FFO (Book 3 of 3)

Genre:  LitRPG fantasy

Publication date:  12th November 2019 (Independently published)


Gripping and thoroughly satisfying, The Once King, concluded the FFO trilogy with yet another compulsive read.

The entire series has been incredibly fun and addictive with lots of action and humour, while packing some solid emotional punches at the same time. Tone and style-wise, FFO is similar to Aaron’s earlier series like Heartstriker, Eli Monpress, and Paradox; they tended towards being lighthearted and hopeful.  While Aaron and Bach had worked together on every book she has written, this was the first time that they shared the writing process, and the result was fantastic.  So much so that I finished reading The Once King in one day, I just didn’t want to put the book down.

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Book Review: Part-Time Gods (DFZ, #2)

Book Review: Part-Time Gods (DFZ, #2)

Part-Time Gods by Rachel Aaron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: DFZ (Book 2 of 3)

Genre: Urban fantasy

Published: 11th June 2019 (Aaron/Bach, self-published)


Rachel Aaron’s talent in creating effortlessly enjoyable and engaging character-driven stories with fascinating worldbuilding is yet again evident in Part-Time Gods, the second book in the DFZ trilogy.

I probably sound like a broken record by now, but Rachel Aaron is my go-to author whenever I needed a pick-me-up. There is just something inherently comfortable and engaging about her writing and her stories that allow me to immerse myself into an intriguing world with its compelling characters right from the start, and it doesn’t let go until the end. I’ve pretty much devoured every single book she’s written in no more than 2 to 3 sittings and over a couple of days at the most, depending on the length.  As Part-Time Gods is not a long book, by fantasy standards, I finished this in a day. And it was a great sequel.

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Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox, #1)

Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox, #1)

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

This is a full trilogy review for Paradox including the 2nd and 3rd titles, Honor’s Knight and Heaven’s Queen.  

The one thing I’ll always credit Rachel Bach/Aaron with is her ability to thoroughly entertain me with her stories, and the Paradox trilogy is yet another proof of that.

By now, most of you will already know that I swear by Rachel Aaron’s books. They are go-to comfort reads; I’ve never picked up one of her books and not found it enjoyable. Her knack of creating great characters is matched by her ability to create worlds which at first glance seemed familiar but is packed with imagination. It’s as if her love of all things geeky brought together some pretty cool influences in her worldbuilding.

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Interview with Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach

Interview with Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach

Hi everyone, TS here!  This is the first time Novel Notions is hosting an interview on a co-authored series.  Forever Fantasy Online is both the name of this LitRPG trilogy and the first book.  Its sequel, Last Bastion, was released yesterday and I have to say that the book was fantastic and an improvement over the first book (which was a fun and great read as well) in every way possible.

Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach have kindly agreed to answer a few burning questions that I have, and so let’s get right to it. 

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Last Bastion (FFO, #2)

Last Bastion (FFO, #2)

I received an advanced reading copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Last Bastion by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Bastion was supposed to mean safety.”

It seemed, however, that Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach decided that safety will be a bit boring for the fictional characters and the readers. Hence, they gave us a heart-pounding, fast-paced, action-packed and dangerously addictive MMORPG-style adventure in the world of Forever Fantasy Online with a great cast of characters.

The story picked up immediately from the ending of the first book. Our main characters, James and Tina, arrived at the city of Bastion to seek refuge and find some answers after the world of FFO was suddenly released from the Nightmare. A term used by the NPCs who are supposedly real people to describe their entrapment in the game environmen, the Nightmare is so named for the dreadful never-ending cycle ofreliving the quests the players undertake, oftentimes dying a painful death over and over again. What greeted the player characters, however, was a city on fire and laden with corpses. Not exactly their idea of a safe haven from the constant danger and fighting they’ve encountered in the past few days.

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Forever Fantasy Online (FFO, #1)

Forever Fantasy Online (FFO, #1)

I received an advanced reading copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review.

Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent characters, an engaging story and geek humour. What more can one ask for?

Forever Fantasy Online is one of my first LitRPG novels, but thanks to the powerhouse couple of Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach, it will not be my last. I will start by talking just a bit about my experience with RPGs as this will provide some context for my review. While I had been quite a geek during my younger days, my RPG days (via books and PC) ended over two decades ago, and I did not have any exposure to multi-player online RPGs. Neither have I been in the anime scene to appreciate the inspiration of this trilogy, which is a hugely popular anime series called Sword Art Online.

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