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This list is also available on my Booktube Channel if that’s what you preferred: https://youtu.be/1gXaV7SQVio
Click here if you want to see the list of all the books I’ve read this year: Petrik’s Year in Books (2020)
Here we are, 2020 is ending very soon! This year, I managed to read and reviewed 119 books (91 traditionally published books + 28 self-published/indie books.)
It’s slightly higher than the previous year, and despite the insanity of this year, 2020 ends up being one of the greatest reading year for me. Seriously, it’s ridiculous how many incredible books I read this year. As usual, I will be applying a few rules into this list:
- Rereads don’t count.
- One book per author.
- The books listed here are not all exclusively published this year; the list consists of the top books I read for the first time within this year. Non-2020 published books on this list will have their first date of publication included.
Do note that although there’s a rank to this list, I HIGHLY recommend every book/series on this list. All the books listed below received a rating of 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars from me, and they’re all in my “Favorites” shelf! Without further ado, here are the top 20 books I’ve read in 2020! (Full reviews of these books can be found on Novel Notions and my Goodreads page.)
20. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Publisher: Ecco (US) & Bloomsbury (UK). First published in: 5th September 2011
“Guard your heart and mind carefully; there’s a prophecy conjured that they won’t remain unscathed after you read the breathtaking lyrics written in The Song of Achilles.”
19. The Crimson Queen (The Raveling, #1) by Alec Hutson
Publisher: Alec Hutson (Self-published/Indie). First published in: 28th November 2016
“An incredibly captivating debut with an intricate world-building and a meticulously beautiful writing style . . . The Crimson Queen feels like classic epic fantasy with a modern epic fantasy voice.”
18. Underlord (Cradle, #6) by Will Wight
Publisher: Hidden Gnome Publishing (Self-published/Indie). First published in: 1st March 2019
“Underlord is powerful, emotional, and visceral. I can personally understand why Underlord receives such unanimous praise from its fans, it is the best of the series so far, and Wight will have to do a lot of improvement if he wants to top what he has written here.”
17. Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse
Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press (US)
“Fascinating world-building and riveting narrative. Black Sun was my first venture in Rebecca Roanhorse’s works, and it certainly won’t be the last.”
16. The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire, #1) by Andrea Stewart
“Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames in 2017, The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang in 2018, The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan in 2019; other than The Poppy War, all of these books are published by Orbit. The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart will be the best fantasy debut of 2020. Don’t miss it.”
15. Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15) by Jim Butcher
Publisher: Ace Books (US) & Orbit (UK). First published in: 27th May 2014
“I don’t have anything else to say, believe the super positive reviews and average ratings for this book. Skin Game is easily one of the best books in the series…”
14. Hollow Empire (Poison Wars, #2) by Sam Hawke
Publisher: Tor Books (US) & Bantam Press (UK).
“Wonderful, emotional, and satisfying… Hollow Empire is one of the best books published this year, and it’s easily one of the best sequels I’ve ever read.”
13. Dragon Mage by M.L. Spencer
Publisher: Stoneguard Publications (Self-published/Indie). To be published in: 8th January 2021
“Dragon Mage is a compelling epic and an immensely satisfying standalone fantasy that will remind readers why they love classic epic fantasy in the first place.”
12. Shorefall (The Founders Trilogy, #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett
Publisher: Del Rey (US) & Jo Fletcher (UK).
“Shorefall is an absolutely spellbinding sequel that blew my mind with its compelling plot progression, sympathizing characters, thrilling actions, and clever inventiveness in its manipulation of reality, time, and souls.”
11. The Stone Knife (The Songs of the Drowned, #1) by Anna Stephens
Publisher: Harper Voyager
“The crimson macabre sequences demonstrated by Stephens in The Stone Knife will stay with its readers for a long time. Whether it’s peaceful tranquility or ruthless bloodshed, the scarlet claw in the narrative had a visceral grip on the reader’s emotions and attention.”
10. A Fool’s Hope (The Last War, #2) by Mike Shackle
“A Fool’s Hope is one of the best fantasy novels of the year. Shackle has outdone himself by crafting such a heart-hammering sequel, and I’ll go as far as saying that it’s one of the best middle-book installments I’ve ever read.”
9. The Fires of Vengeance (The Burning, #2) by Evan Winter
“This is, without a shadow of a doubt, an exceptional sequel that succeeded over its incredible predecessor.”
8. Kings of Heaven (Ash and Sand, #3) by Richard Nell
Publisher: Richard Nell (Self-published/Indie)
“Kings of Heaven has carved Ash and Sand as one of the best fantasy trilogies I’ve ever read.”
7. Paternus: War of Gods (The Paternus Trilogy, #3) by Dyrk Ashton
Publisher: Paternus Books Media (Indie)
“War of Gods is urban fantasy at its utter best. If you love massive battles, mythology, engaging narrative, and a satisfying conclusion, you have to read this book.”
6. The Burning God by (The Poppy War Trilogy, #3) by Rebecca Kuang
Publisher: Harper Voyager
“The Burning God is indisputably one of my favorite books of all time, and more than ever now, the completion of The Burning God earn R.F. Kuang her rightful crown and throne as one of the queens of modern fantasy.”
5. The Trouble with Peace (Age of Madness, #2) by Joe Abercrombie
Publisher: Orbit (US) & Gollancz (UK)
“Incredibly mesmeric and brilliant. The trouble with reading Abercrombie’s newest book is that there’s no more new Abercrombie book to read.”
4. The Light of All That Falls (The Licanius Trilogy, #3) by James Islington
Publisher: Orbit. First published in: 10th December 2019
“The Light of All That Falls is an absolute marvel, a prodigious finishing touch to an ingeniously plotted series.”
3. Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive, #4) by Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books (US) & Gollancz (UK)
“Brandon Sanderson is a storming genius. Rhythm of War is another scintillating masterpiece in The Stormlight Archive series—one of my top favorite series of all time, and easily the best ongoing series right now.”
2. The Labyrinth of the Spirits (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #4) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicholson, Orion Books (UK) & Harper (US). Translated to English in: 2018
“This novel is a brilliant masterwork that every reader must read; Zafón has concluded The Cemetery of Forgotten Books terrifically. I’ll even go as far as claiming that The Labyrinth of the Spirits is my number one favorite non-SFF novel at the moment.”
1. A Time of Courage (Of Blood and Bone, #3) by John Gwynne
Publisher: Orbit (US) & Pan Macmillan (UK)
“A 5 out of 5 stars rating won’t do this book justice. Just like Wrath, A Time of Courage is epic fantasy at its best; it’s a masterpiece that deserves a 6 out of 5 stars rating, simple as that.”
What I said the past two years is, of course, even more applicable this year. Allow me to repeat them once again, and add some.
To every author, whether your book is on this list or not, I want to say—from the bottom of my heart—thank you for writing. The stories you wrote transported me into another world, circumstances, and time; that’s something irreplaceable to me. The insane harshness of reality became saner due to your imagination. I can only hope that the honest reviews and words I spread around help bring more readers to pick up your book; even if you get just one additional reader as a result, I’m satisfied.
To traditional publishers—especially Orbit (Emily Byron, Nazia) and Tor UK (Jamie-Lee Nardone)—and self-published/indie authors, this year I managed to read 40 ARC/review requests thanks to all of you! As an international reader, it means a lot to me that you took some time and money to send me books (both physical and ebooks) to read and review. Please know that I will treasure them with all my heart! None of the books you sent will be wasted! :’)
Lastly, to fellow readers, reviewers, and now viewers! I receive a lot of messages—on Goodreads, Twitter, and YouTube—from you saying thank you for all the reviews and recommendations I’ve posted; some have mentioned that the reviews I wrote have led them to books that sparked their love for reading again, some have sent me books, and some have asked and even support me monetarily. At the end of last year, I mentioned that I would launch Patreon and Booktube this year; I’ve done both, and the result has been so much better than I expected! All of you have no idea how much this means to me, seriously. Next year, I will still read, review books, and post videos on my channel as best as I can.
That’s all from me this year. Thank you very much, everyone! Keep on writing and reading! See any of your favorite reads of the year on this list? What’s yours?