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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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Book Review: The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo


The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an audio copy of this book from the publisher, Macmillan Audio, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“I was never truly awake until I began to dream of other worlds.”

The Lives of Saints is a fascinating collection of short stories about, well, the lives of saints, that I’m sure will add greatly to the world building of Bardugo’s Grishaverse. Incredibly reminiscent of books about the lives of Catholic saints, but with more of a fairytale feel, I found the collection charming. I loved the combination of religious and fantastical. The stories are formulaic in the best sense of the word. A collection like this in the real world is supposed to be for spiritual edification first and entertainment second, so I can only assume that’s the feel that Bardugo was going for. However, these were far from dry, and were without a doubt entertaining.

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Book Review: If It Bleeds by Stephen King

Book Review: If It Bleeds by Stephen King


If It Bleeds by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve honestly come to believe that King can simply do no real wrong in my eyes. And I’m still baffled by this turn around, as I vividly recall years of my life when I couldn’t get past the first chapter of anything he wrote. Whatever the catalyst for this change in taste might have been, I’m grateful for it. King is now firmly planted among my favorites. While not every book or story is a masterpiece, they’re all enjoyable. This newest collection of his is no exception. Below are micro-reviews for each of the four stories contained in this collection. Even if I didn’t adore them all, I had fun reading them.

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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: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Book Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

My rating:  4.5 of 5 stars

Genre:  Science fiction, fantasy, magic realism, dystopian

Published:  March 2016 by Gallery/Saga Press (US) and Head of Zeus (UK)


I’ve been meaning to read Ken Liu’s first collection of short stories for a quite a while. His translation for two of Cixin Liu’s books in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy was excellent and I’ve heard a lot of great things about the titular short story of this collection.

In my opinion, the preface alone warrants at least a 5-star and an award. Liu’s writing is utterly beautiful and profound, and one can clearly see how talented and intelligent this author is just from reading his preface to the collection. I’ve highlighted at least half of it because it was so well-written.

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Book Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, by Ken Liu

Book Review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, by Ken Liu


The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I chose to read The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories solely for the title story, which is one of Petrik’s most beloved short stories he’s ever read. Thankfully, Ken Liu proved to be an astonishingly gifted writer. I’ve heard his work referred to as graceful, and I can’t think of a more apt description. The man has a marvelous way with words. You can tell that every single sentence was crafted with care. This collection of stories is unlike anything else I’ve ever read in my life. While I didn’t love every single story, those I did love had a profound effect on me, and I honestly believe that I will still be thinking about them for months, if not years, to come. Below are my (very random) thoughts on each story. I’ve left said thoughts in their raw state. While I wanted to share quotes from the stories themselves, I highlighted far too many to sift through. I highly recommend this collection if you want something that will make you think deeply and treat others with greater kindness. More of Liu’s work is definitely in my future.

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Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle

Book Review: The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle


The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If I had to choose one word to describe Beagle’s writing, I think I’d have to break the rule and use two: melancholy whimsy. He is absolutely brilliant at mingling the lovely and imaginative with the quietly heartbreaking. Before picking up this collection, I had only read two books by him: The Last Unicorn and Summerlong. I thought that The Last Unicorn was achingly lovely, and I completely get why it’s considered such a foundational classic of the fantasy genre and why it is so beloved by some of my favorite authors. Summerlong, on the other hand, fell flat for me, but I’m beginning to think the reason behind that lack of connection was my reading it in the wrong mindset and with impossible expectations. Both are books I plan to revisit, the first to see if my appreciation for it has changed, and the second to find out if reading it at the wrong time could be why I didn’t enjoy it more.

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Book Review: The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5)

Book Review: The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5)


The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Destiny has many faces. Mine is beautiful on the outside and hideous on the inside. She has stretched her bloody talons toward me—”

You can probably guess why I finally picked this book up. I’m stupid excited for the Netflix series of The Witcher. And since I’m a good student, I wanted to at least have read the first book of the series before watching the show. I’m very glad I did. The Last Wish is a wonderful introduction to Geralt of Rivia, the eponymous Witcher of the series. Set up as short stories with a framework, we get to see some of Geralt’s greatest hits of his career, as well as gaining a bit of insight into his character.

“People,” Geralt turned his head, “like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves. When they get blind-drunk, cheat, steal, beat their wives, starve an old woman, when they kill a trapped fox with an axe or riddle the last existing unicorn with arrows, they like to think that the Bane entering cottages at daybreak is more monstrous than they are. They feel better then. They find it easier to live.”

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Book Review: Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill

Book Review: Full Throttle: Stories by Joe Hill


Full Throttle by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vary rarely do I review the audio of a book. Though I’m a big audiobook reader/listener, I tend to swap between the physical and audio versions of I’m reading and generally just review the actual book itself, not the audio production. There have been a few notable exceptions, most especially Daisy Jones & The Six, but those exceptions are few and far between. Today, I have another exception to add to the list with Joe Hill’s most recent short fiction collection, Full Throttle. And it was such a strong collection! There were only two stories that I really didn’t care for and two that I felt were just okay, as opposed to the nine stories that were either 4, 4.5, or 5 star experiences.

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Forward: Amazon Original Stories

Forward: Amazon Original Stories


I love how short stories are making such strides in popular fiction, as is speculative fiction. The Forward Collection is a great demonstration of this, and brings together vastly different authors to theorize on what the future might look like. What binds these stories together is their exploration of possible technological advancements in the not too distant future, without ever really giving away if the changes such advancements would bring would be for our collective good or ill. In most of these stories, technology is both our destroyer and our savior. Below you’ll find micro-reviews of each story, progressing from those I enjoyed the least to those that resonated the deepest. As I listened to the audio version of each story, readers are mentioned with the authors.

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