My favourite books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. The current Top Ten is MY TOP TEN FAVORITE READS OF 2020, predictably so. Let‘s see, how many 5-star reviews I can scare up for this year… no particular order, I listed them as they popped up.

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)
by Patricia Briggs

I re-read the whole series, plus Alpha & Omega spin-off, at the beginning of this year. Still good and still one of my favourite UF series of all time. I am looking forward to the new Alpha & Omega in March 2021.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to Suffer
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard,  Cliff Rathburn

I am slowly working my way through The Walking Dead, the ultimate zombie graphic novel, that spawned an ever increasing horde of books and TV series… this volume was a very good ones. I am still at it, currently reading Volume 13.

To The Center Of The Earth
by Greig Beck

As pure escapism goes, this was an excellent choice. Cavers go down to find the centre of the Earth. And things they did not bargain for. Reminding you of Jules Verne? Yes, indeed.

Paper Girls #1
by Brian K. Vaughan,  Cliff Chiang (Illustrator)

Paper Girls is another excellent graphic novel by Vaughan, that I really should continue. Good story, great colouring, fun!

Dune (Dune, #1)
by Frank Herbert

Another re-read, in a pretty Deluxe hardback edition. The book shows its age and author‘s bias in the treatment of women and LGTBQ representation, but if you can look past that it is still one of the best SF novels out there.

The White Dragon (Pern, #3)
by Anne McCaffrey

This seems to be my year of re-reading old favourites, because I also read the first Dragonriders of Pern trilogy again. And I still like it a lot, phew. The treatment of women in this one is even more problematic than in Dune though. Odder still, the author is a woman. However, if dragons are your thing, this series should be on your list.

Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild
by Marjorie M. Liu,  Sana Takeda (Artist)

Another graphic novel series that is still going strong. The plot thickens though in this horror/fantasy story full of demons and gorgeous artwork.

Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

My winner in the romance genre for this year. Good sense of humour, believable and not cringe-worthy amounts of drama and angst, blessed lack of the most stupid romance tropes. 

Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers, #1)
by M.C.A. Hogarth

Finally I picked up something by Hogarth again, after a longer break. Very chilled, very relaxing, a nice amble through her unusual universe. Let’s call it Pastoral Science Fiction. A slow book with mellow drama and a slowly building asexual romance. Uplifting. Another reviewer called it a cozy, finding-one’s-place story and that sums it up nicely.

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5)
by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews, well… I would rate their shopping list with five stars.

Not a very sophisticated list with a lot of literary merit, but I had fun. I could list a few more graphic novels. In terms of novels there were no massive highlights this year. Plus the longer I review books, the stricter I seem to get with my ratings.

Seasonal backlist

I have this fairly big backlist of books on Goodreads (and in my head), that I haven‘t posted here. Just going through them one by one and cross-posting them is fairly dull. So, hey, maybe it‘s more fun via meme? Ok, then. TOP TEN TUESDAY is doing a Holiday/Seasonal Freebie. Turns out that I don‘t have a lot of books on my list with the words Christmas, winter or snow in the title!

There is The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation (The Dukes of War, #1) by Erica Ridley.

Short, silly, predictable, entertaining. It feels like a much shorter story, although the print editions manage to be around 200 pages. Well plotted, believable characters, no big surprises. The ending feels a bit rushed. A little bit more build-up would have been nice. And maybe a twist or two. Good choice to get a glimpse into the series and to see, if you might like Ridley’s writing for a bit of mindless Regency romance fluff.

How about some snow on the cover? I give you Christmas on Conrad Street (Misty Harbor, #2) by Marcia Evanick

It was a touch too light for my taste. It was so predictable, I found it difficult to keep interested after reading about half of the book. The characters are a little too simplistic and not very mature. I liked the first book of the series, so perhaps I was just not in the mood for this one.

And that‘s it! Apparently I am not a very seasonal person…

November Wrap-up

Here is my November. Sorry for the long break since my last post. Slow book and not a lot of reading mojo at the moment…

BR novels finished:
– The White Dragon, paper, featured BR, ★★★★¾, the runt of the litter saves the day. 
– The Doors of Eden, audio, featured BR, carry-over from October, ★★★¾☆
– Conventionally Yours, netgalley, romance readers, ★★¾☆☆, new adult, enemies-to-lovers, M/M romance, card gaming à la Magic The Gathering, meh.

BR novels started, carry-over into December:
– To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, audio, group read, at 48%
– Phoenix Extravagant, netgalley, at 40%

Solo reads / comics:
– Fathom Vol. 1 #0, ★★★☆☆, Surfer Barbie plans to go on an adventure.
– Fathom Vol. 2 #0, ★★½☆☆, where is Aquaman, when you need him?
– Fathom Vol. 2: Beginnings, ★★★½☆, backstory, only eight pages. The Artwork seems to be better.
– BLAME! Vol. 5, ★★★½☆
– BLAME! Vol. 6, ★★☆☆☆, not happy how this all played out. Seriously missing some decent plot.

Solo read / Fanfiction:
Performance in a Leading Role, online, ★★★★☆, Johnlock, rom-com with the boys as leading Hollywood actors. 156,714 Words.

The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky The White Dragon (Pern, #3) by Anne McCaffrey Fathom Vol. 1 #0 by Michael Layne Turner Fathom Vol. 2 #0 by J.T. Krul Fathom Vol. 2 Beginnings by J.T. Krul Conventionally Yours (True Colors, #1) by Annabeth Albert BLAME! Vol. 5 by Tsutomu Nihei BLAME! Vol. 6 by Tsutomu Nihei 

Fairly conventional enemies-to-lovers

Conventionally Yours (True Colors, #1)
by Annabeth Albert (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Our main characters Conrad and Alden go on a road trip to a gaming convention. Both of them are desperate to win at the tournament taking place there, for a variety of reasons.

Obviously they don‘t like each other, so we have plenty of strife and arguments on the way. And, rather expectedly, their animosity undergoes a change during the trip.

Chapter POVs alternated between our two main characters, with some slight overlap. Nicely done, but sometimes I had to check back to the chapter headings, to remind myself whose chapter I was reading.

The first chapters did not endear either of the main characters to me. Once the reasons for their desperate wishes to win the tournament got clearer, they became more likable. But I never became a fan of either of them or their blooming romance. 

The story didn‘t do much for me. The road trip was a nice idea, but was pretty dull. Their soul searching was pretty bland as well. Predictable, with a relatively uneventful plot. It wasn‘t boring, but it never grabbed me either. I skimmed heavily during the middle bit, because I simply didn‘t care what happened. I liked the last 30% at the convention. Sadly, the ending felt rushed.

I am giving this New Adult enemies-to-lovers M/M romance the benefit of the doubt, rounding it up to three stars.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Well, not a lot of reading actually…

After a weeklong holiday I have barely read anything this week. A few pages at night in bed, that‘s it. Busy, busy, busy… I did however just add a buddy read to my list for next year…

With nods to Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice, a charming #ownvoices queer rom-com debut about a free-spirited social media astrologer who agrees to fake a relationship with an uptight actuary until New Year’s Eve—with results not even the stars could predict!

Sounds like fun, right? The fake-relationship trope is one of my favourites anyway. So, added to the pile… yes, yes, I didn‘t want to plan (many) buddy reads next year or buy new books. Sigh.

Oh, my prediction… they marry at the end! Let‘s see…

More November reading…

Conventionally Yours (True Colors, #1) by Annabeth Albert

When two “big name fans” go head-to-head at a convention, love isn’t the only thing at stake. Charming, charismatic, and effortlessly popular, Conrad Stewart seems to have it all…but in reality, he’s scrambling to keep his life from tumbling out of control. Brilliant, guarded, and endlessly driven, Alden Roth may as well be the poster boy for perfection…but even he can’t help but feel a little broken inside.

When these mortal enemies are stuck together on a cross-country road trip to the biggest fan convention of their lives, their infamous rivalry takes a backseat as an unexpected connection is forged. Yet each has a reason why they have to win the upcoming Odyssey gaming tournament and neither is willing to let emotion get in the way—even if it means giving up their one chance at something truly magical.

The first chapters have not endeared either of the main characters to me yet. Chapter POVs alternated between Conrad and Alden. We‘ll see how that turns out, I am a quarter into the book… RTC!

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you! #NetGalley

October Wrap-up

BR novels:
– Monstress, Vol. 5, comic, ★★★★★, siege of a city, war, revelations about the past. This was good, although different to the previous ones. More of an ensemble cast and more focused on setting up the scene for that siege and the war that will probably pick up speed in the next volume.
– Dragonquest, paper, ★★★★★, fun 2nd Dragonriders book. Fire-lizards! I enjoyed this a lot and it was much better than I remembered it.
– The Only Good Indians, audio, ★★☆☆☆, revenge, indigenous people, hunting. Carry-over from last month. There were some good parts in this. Some of it I even liked. It just didn‘t come together well. 
– The Ministry for the Future: A Novel, ebook, Netgalley, ★★☆☆☆, DNF at 56%, climatefic, too little plot, more a collection of essays, too much economics, blockchain, weird surrealistic meta-fic somethings. The plot that was there, I liked. The rest bored me silly.

Ongoing BR:
– The Doors of Eden, audio, featured BR, 6 hours left, will finish in November… Good so far, I like it. Tchaikovsky writes well and is great at world-building. I have to get to his back catalogue one of these days.

Planned BR, but didn‘t read:
– The Butterfly Garden, ebook, didn‘t manage to squeeze it in and after reading a friend‘s review I am not sure if I want to. Postponed.

Solo reads:
– Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory, short, ★★★★☆, intermezzo for Mensah and Murderbot 
– Shakespeare’s Sonnets, poetry, ★★★★☆, read-along with Sir Pat on Instagram.
– BLAME! Vol. 4, manga, ★★★★☆, fighting and exploring the megastructure.

Plans for November:

BR novels:
– The White Dragon — started already! Fun!
– Phoenix Extravagant, netgalley 
– Conventionally Yours, netgalley — romance readers
– Great Expectations, read-along on wordpress — this will be postponed, month tbc

September Wrap-up

Towards the end of the year my reading always seems to go down. Not sure why. Anyhow, I just finished one audio and will post the review later. And I am about to start the next audio. I have one credit left with Audible and yet again I am contemplating to cancel my membership. Sometimes I enjoy listening to audio, but most of the time it feels more like a chore to sit and listen. My listening comprehension is not as good as my reading comprehension and I do have to make more of an effort to understand and follow the stories.

There are a few notable exceptions. One exception are the Peter Grant novels—not because they are fun, but because they are so excellently narrated. And the Expanse novels by Corey were a fun ride as audiobooks. So there is at least one more audiobook in my future, for that I would revive my Audible—the last Expanse novel, Leviathan Falls, to be published sometime in 2021…

So, what did I read in September?

Buddy reads:
– Mindtouch, ebook, ★★★★★, pastoral SF, non-sexual not-quite-romance, finding your place in the world… Another one of Hogarth‘s offerings in her Pelted Universe.
– Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5), ebook, ★★★★½, all the Ilona Andrews fans go „Yay“. Enough said.
– Sourdough (zombie), ebook, ★★★★☆, techy San Francisco and a mystical sourdough starter. This made me bake.
– The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, ebook, ★★★¾☆, solitude, books, family, trivia and romance.

Comics, aka my guilty pleasure:
– Captain America: Sam Wilson Vol. 1: Not My Captain America, ★★★☆☆, Sam Wilson takes over as Cap. And turns into a werewolf. The bad guy is Donald Trump in disguise.
– Pretty Deadly #1, ★☆☆☆☆, weirdWestern, allover the place, no plot.

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5) by Ilona Andrews Captain America Sam Wilson Vol. 1 Not My Captain America by Nick Spencer Pretty Deadly #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers, #1) by M.C.A. Hogarth The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman Sourdough by Robin Sloan 

Summer read for book nerds

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
by Abbi Waxman (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Nina lives a solitary life with her cat and books. She not only owns a library card, but also works in a bookstore. And then her absentee father dies and leaves her with a sprawling, complicated family. And then a potential boyfriends shows up. And anxiety follows suit.

I did not enjoy the first 40 pages or so, the clichés just came too thick and fast. The stereotyping was somewhat painful. Apparently avid readers are all socially inept introverts. 

The book eventually grew on me though. I didn‘t love it, but it was better than ok, once I accepted it as a light summer read without much substance. 

Nina’s family are more stereotypes, but they are also quirky enough to be fun. Lots of potential as well. I can see another book coming out for each of them. And I would probably even read some of them. Lydia and Lisa would be my preferred choice.

The romance was light, without too much drama. Nothing is explored too deeply. It‘s not laughing-out-loud, but feel-good material. 

I am not rushing to find more by the author, but might be persuaded to pick up another one.

3.5 stars, rounded up.

Notes of the overbooked and overcommitted…

Would there be any interest in a read-along of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens for September? I will host it if there’s any interest. Please …

Interest in a September Read-Along?

Well, it looks as if I committed to a Charles Dickens read-along in November (September didn‘t work out). The ebook is downloaded, I took a note in my Goodreads calendar, I am ready and not quite as overbooked as in September!

My plans for September 2020:

Again a lot more than I had intended. It just happened. Next year I have to make more of an effort, not to committ to too many BRs… 

BR novels:
– Mindtouch, ebook started
– Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5), ebook started
– The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
– Sourdough 
– The Mother Code
– Axiom’s End
– Maybe The Only Good Indians

Solo reads:
– Something from Prime Reading (KU)
– maybe The Ippos King, To be published September 15