In 2020 I read 64,046 pages across 229 books.
I gave six books five-star ratings, and for the first time none of them were rereads.
A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan (Brothers Sinister #1.5)
He’d done it to himself. He had a dreadful sense of humor, a too-blunt tongue, and he’d never seen the point in holding either back. But she’d never take him seriously now. He had told her outright that he loved her, and she hadn’t seen it as anything but another volley, another ill-considered jest. The entirety of his feelings had become a joke. She didn’t even see him as a friend, let alone a suitor.
Around this time last year the romance world was a little bit on fire, which had the side effect of bringing Courtney Milan to my attention. She is a bisexual Chinese-American author and her fiction features characters that are sexually, racially, and neurologically diverse.
This is a sweet, funny, and emotionally intense novella that is technically part of a larger series, but requires no real prior knowledge.
The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (Brothers Sinister #2)
Anjan was Batty because Bhattacharya had too many syllables. He’d told one man his first name; the fellow had blinked, and then had immediately dubbed him John. That’s who they thought he was: John Batty. These well-meaning English boys had taken his name as easily, and with as much jovial friendship, as their fathers had taken his country.
Speaking of that larger series of historical romances, they’re all worth reading but this was the one that made me cry the most. It displays all of Milan’s strengths, and has strong, well-defined characters with understandable motivations and conflicts that feel real, rather than implausible misunderstandings that arise at a plot-convenient time and could be resolved by literally anyone involved opening their mouth.
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Once, there was a girl who found a sword in the woods. Once, there was a girl who made a bargain with the Folk. Once, there was a girl who’d been a knight in the service of a monster. Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.
- Angsty teenagers
- Magic sword
- Gay fairy
- Gay angsty teenager
Gay magic sword
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch #3)
For the vast majority of the rest of the universe, that ending might as well not ever have happened. Every ending is an arbitrary one. Every ending is, from another angle, not really an ending.
Breq is back, and this weird niche space opera about aliens, consciousness, and alien social consciousness is ready to wrap up, leaving you with more questions than answers (and a vague desire for tea.)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I didn’t know what to do with that piece of information. So I just kept it inside. That’s what I did with everything. Kept it inside.
My siblings and I have been doing a virtual book club since near the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns in the US, and this was one of L’s picks.
Aristotle and Dante are teenage boys, and by the end of this beautifully written book they learn to be slightly less immature teenage boys. Like every book on this list, it deals with trauma and loss and hope and made me cry when I read it. You, too, should read it and cry.
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (Spoiler Alert #1)
Unapologetic Lavinia Stan: I think I desperately needed to read and watch the story of how a woman most considered homely or downright hideous could earn respect, admiration, desire, and eventually love from the man she desired and loved herself. (Aeneas, of course.) I needed to witness how her character, her choices, and her words would come to mean more to him, in the end, than whether the rest of the world would call her pretty.
This is a book about adults with traumas dealing with them in a respectful, emotionally intelligent manner. For the most part.
It’s also a book about fandom, fanfic, and fantasy; everything that happens revolves around Gods of the Gates, a television adaptation of a popular series of fantasy novels that degraded quickly once the showrunners ran out of book material to adapt. If you’re not interested in fanfic or would find thinly veiled references to Game of Thrones and Braime grating this is probably not for you.