As a whole, 2020 sucked. But! There were so many amazing books that published this year, and so many fantastic books that I read this year! Today’s post is all about the sixteen books I loved THE MOST in 2020, sorted by genre! (and in a few cases, age range!)
*While today’s list does include books that were published before 2020, it does not include any publishing in 2021. I’ll have a different post on those books coming soon! (Tentatively Friday, but possibly next week)
And now without any further ado, here’s this week’s Top Ten Tuesday!
Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter
Series: Winterborne Home #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 3, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Thriller
April didn’t mean to start the fire. She wasn’t even the one who broke the vase.
She had absolutely no intention of becoming the only person who knows that Gabriel Winterborne, the missing-and-presumed-dead billionaire, is neither missing nor dead and is actually living in the basement of Winterborne House, sharpening his swords and looking for vengeance.
Now that April knows Gabriel Winterborne is alive, it’s up to her to keep him that way. But there’s only so much a twelve-year-old girl can do, so April must turn to the other orphans for help. Together, they’ll have to unravel the riddle of a missing heir and a creepy legend, and find a secret key, before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Published by Tor Books on October 6, 2020
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA+
A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason
Series: The Thorne Chronicles #1
Published by Daw Books on October 8, 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Retellings, Thriller
First in a duology that reimagines fairy tale tropes within a space opera--The Princess Bride meets Princess Leia.
Rory Thorne is a princess with thirteen fairy blessings, the most important of which is to see through flattery and platitudes. As the eldest daughter, she always imagined she'd inherit her father's throne and govern the interplanetary Thorne Consortium.
Then her father is assassinated, her mother gives birth to a son, and Rory is betrothed to the prince of a distant world.
When Rory arrives in her new home, she uncovers a treacherous plot to unseat her newly betrothed and usurp his throne. An unscrupulous minister has conspired to name himself Regent to the minor (and somewhat foolish) prince. With only her wits and a small team of allies, Rory must outmaneuver the Regent and rescue the prince.
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse is a feminist reimagining of familiar fairytale tropes and a story of resistance and self-determination--how small acts of rebellion can lead a princess to not just save herself, but change the course of history.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Published by Tor.com on April 5, 2016
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Aspec
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children: No Solicitations. No Visitors. No Quests
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.
No matter the cost.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Published by Scholastic Press on August 2, 2020
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQIA+
Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?
The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton
Published by Page Street Kids on May 5, 2020
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Moxie meets A Knight’s Tale as Kit Sweetly slays sexism, bad bosses, and bad luck to become a knight at a medieval-themed restaurant.
Working as a wench—i.e. waitress—at a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant in the Chicago suburbs, Kit Sweetly dreams of being a knight like her brother. She has the moves, is capable on a horse, and desperately needs the raise that comes with knighthood, so she can help her mom pay the mortgage and hold a spot at her dream college.
Company policy allows only guys to be knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s place and reveals her identity at the end of the show, she rockets into internet fame and a whole lot of trouble with the management. But the Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight. As other wenches join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove that gender restrictions should stay medieval—if they don’t get fired first.
Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli, Brett Helquist
Series: Creekwood #3.5
Published by Balzer + Bray on June 30, 2020
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQIA+
Fall in love all over again with the characters from the bestselling Simonverse novels in this highly anticipated epilogue novella. Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli, the movie Love, Simon, and the new Hulu series spin-off, Love, Victor!
It’s been more than a year since Simon and Blue turned their anonymous online flirtation into an IRL relationship, and just a few months since Abby and Leah’s unforgettable night at senior prom.
Now the Creekwood High crew are first years at different colleges, navigating friendship and romance the way their story began—on email.
Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on February 4, 2020
Genres: YA, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Aspec
Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome wor.
Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.
Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.
But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.
Spellhacker by M.K. England
Published by HarperTeen on January 21, 2020
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Thriller, LGBTQIA+
From the author of The Disasters, this genre-bending YA fantasy heist story is perfect for fans of Marie Lu and Amie Kaufman.
In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.
Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.
But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Published by Flatiron Books on July 7, 2020
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Retellings, LGBTQIA+
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse...
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it's not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother's wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she's willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming...human or demon. Princess or monster.
Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
Series: Dread Nation #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 4, 2020
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction, Alternate History, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Aspec
The sequel to Dread Nation is a journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.
After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.
But nothing is easy when you're a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880's America.
What's more, this safe haven is not what it appears - as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.
But she won't be in it alone.
Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by - and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.
Watching Jane's back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it's up to Katherine to keep hope alive - even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.
The Camelot Betrayal by Kiersten White
Series: Camelot Rising #2
Published by Delacorte Press on November 10, 2020
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Retellings, LGBTQIA+
Everything is as it should be in Camelot. King Arthur is expanding his kingdom’s influence with Queen Guinevere at his side. Yet every night, dreams of darkness and unknowable power plague her.
Guinevere might have accepted her role, but she still cannot find a place for herself in all of it. The closer she gets to Brangien, pining for her lost love Isolde, Lancelot, fighting to prove her worth as Queen’s knight, and Arthur, everything to everyone and thus never quite enough for Guinevere–the more she realizes how empty she is. She has no sense of who she truly was before she was Guinevere. The more she tries to claim herself as queen, the more she wonders if Mordred was right: she doesn’t belong. She never will.
When a rescue goes awry and results in the death of something precious, a devastated Guinevere returns to Camelot to find the greatest threat yet has arrived. Not in the form of the Dark Queen or an invading army, but in the form of the real Guinevere’s younger sister. Is her deception at an end? And who is she really deceiving–Camelot, or herself?
The second book in a new fantasy trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White, exploring the nature of self, the inevitable cost of progress, and, of course, magic and romance and betrayal so epic Queen Guinevere remains the most famous queen who never lived.
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr) on October 22, 2019
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Retellings
Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.
When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.
Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?
The Game by Linsey Miller
Published by Underlined on August 4, 2020
Genres: YA, Thriller, Contemporary
A game turns deadly with a killer who picks his victims one by one, letter by letter.
Every year the senior class at Lincoln High plays assassin. Lia Prince has been planning her strategy for years and she's psyched that not only does she finally get to play, she's on a team with Devon Diaz. But this year, the game isn't any fun--it's real. Abby Ascher, Ben Barnard, and Cassidy Clarke have all turned up . . . dead. Can Lia stop the ABC killer before he reaches D?
Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer
Series: CatNet #1
Published by Tor Teen on November 19, 2019
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Thriller, LGBTQIA+
How much does the internet know about YOU?
Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I.
When a threat from Steph’s past catches up to her and ChesireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Inheritance Games #1
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on September 1, 2020
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Thriller
A Cinderella story with deadly stakes and thrilling twists, perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying and Knives Out.
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why--or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man's touch--and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he's determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather's last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
What were your favorite books of 2020? Do we have any that we share? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous week!